All About Ants almost Essay Research Paper

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All About Ants (almost) Essay, Research Paper All About Ants (almost) Among the many hundreds of thousands of astonishing organisms with which we must share this earth, there is one seemingly ordinary group of specimens which fascinates many people beyond all others. There is nothing too extraordinary in the proportions or appearance of ants, but it is their history and culture that induces a second look. These insects are about as different from us mammals as two organisms can be, yet it appears that of all the known animals their way of life appears closest to our human way of life. The similarities in the ways in which we organize our lives are astounding. Ants are doubtlessly the most successful of all the social insects of the Hymenoptera, an order also including wasps

and bees. The earliest known specimens are found entombed in the Scandinavian Baltic Amber samples which scientists date in upwards of 100 million years old (The Ant Colony ?89). These primitive samples have evolved into the 5000 to 10000 species known today which vary amongst themselves as widely as the numbers suggest (Social Insects ?68). These remarkably adaptive creatures are found in some form on all continents and all habitats but the extreme arctics. Their success is manifested in the claim that at any time there are at least 1 quadrillion living ants on earth(Groliers ?93). All species of ants are social. They live in organized communities or colonies, which may contain anywhere from a few hundred to more than 20 million individuals. These are organized into a complex

system which may contain two or more castes and sub castes which can be roughly organized into three groups. Queens, males and workers. The queen is much larger than the other ants, and has wings until mating. Her primary task is to lay eggs for the colony. Some colonies have one queen; others have up to 5000. Queens develop from fertilized ordinary eggs, nobody is exactly certain what causes these to develop into queens but it is generally thought that the process comes from an altered diet in the pupae and larvae stages and as a pheremone response, which will later be discussed. Queens have an extended life span of up to 25 years and can lay millions of eggs in that time (Ant Colony ?89). Male ants are winged as well, their sole purpose is to mate with the queens. For this

reason they are the shortest lived ants in the colony. Hatching in the spring, they mate in the summer and upon completion of this task promptly die. As in all Hymenoptera, they are formed from non-fertilized eggs (Social Insects ? 65). The majority of the ants in the colony are wingless females who are generally non-reproductive. These “workers” must perform the tasks of sustaining the colony and all life therein. They are responsible for building, repairing, and defending the nest, and for caring for the queen and the brood. They also generate a source of nutrition and feed all the members of the colony. Some will will perform a single task for their whole lives, while others change constantly. In polymorphic species, where the workers vary in size, the worker sub casts are

most destinguishable. Here there is found a larger or major worker often referred to as a soldier. Her function is often associated with specialization such as guarding the colony, carrying heavy loads, or in species where necessary, foraging for food. While the minima or smaller workers tend the larvae and queen. Once or twice each year, commonly on a warm summer day, every ant colony becomes the source of great excitement. Well rested and cared for young alates begin to make for the escapes and exits from deep within the colony. Large soldiers guard the door as the young winged members are escorted to the open by hordes of workers. Suddenly, yet unbeknownst to man nature gives a signal. Soldiers retreat, and workers make space and assemble on the ground as the males and queens