Seems like ants are everywhere, right? They are! Ants and termites, along with thier close relatives bees and wasps, make up fully 3/4s of the total insect biomass. In fact, ants and termites make up about ⅓ of the Amazon’s dry land biomass.
Ever wonder what an ant’s nest looks like? Here’s one after it was filled with plaster, and then scientists picked away all the surrounding dirt.
Reasearchers investigated another much larger, but by no means special, nest and found that the structure was over 26 feet deep and horizontally covered over five hundred square feet. To build it, the colony moved 40 tons of dirt—billions of ant loads, each one weighing about four times as much as the worker ant that carried it. In human terms, the dirt was carried over 1/2 mile to the surface.
Other reasons why ants are such a successful species:
Ants are resistant to hard radiation. While plants died around them, ants exposed to intense cesium irradiation suffered no apparent harm nor change in behavior.
Some species are even able to live underwater for up to two weeks or longer.
Indonesian ants have domesticated mealy bugs and feed on sugar and vitamin rich honey dew excreted by the mealy bugs. The ants are nomadic, periodically moving their mealy bug herds to new plants for fresh grazing.
When a colony is disturbed, scout ants spread out looking for a new site. The site is selected by a form of democracy. Individual ants vote by leaving pheromone trails to preferred sites. At the end of voting, the site with the strongest pheromone trail is used.
Grass cutter ants use relay teams to transport food. Each team covers a set distance and hands it over to the next team.
Wood ants harvest tree resin to use as an antibiotic and fungicide.
Grass cutter ants cultivate underground fungus gardens. They build gravity ventilation systems to maintain desired temperature, humidity and CO2 levels.