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    Ants, Little But Mighty Essay (1581 words)

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    Ants, Little but MightyWhat is an ant? Ants are insects, they have six legsand each leg has three joints.

    Ants legs are very strong. With its little legs it can lift twenty-five time its own bodyweight. They have two stomachs. One stomach holds itsfood, and the second holds food to be shared with otherants.

    The out side of their body is covered with a hardarmor. This is called the exoskeleton. Ants have fourgrowing stages, the egg, larva, pupa, and the adult. Thereare over 100,000 known species of ants.

    Each ant colonyhas at least one or more queens. The queens job is to lay eggs. How does she start hercolony? Well in the spring all the males and young wingedqueens leave there nest and fly high in the air and mate. The few ant queens that survive this marriage flight castoff there wings and instinctively begin to look for a spot tostart a new ant colony. After making a nest, the young queen ant seals off theentrance and begins to lay eggs.

    Some of the first batch areeaten by the queen for nourishment. When the survivingeggs hatch they become like larvae. After a few weeks eachlarva spins a cocoon around itself and pupates. In a fewmore weeks, adult workers emerge. It is their job to huntfor food and make the nest bigger. More workers will develop and the colony gets veryorganized.

    The new workers will completely take over ascaretakers of the eggs, larvae, and pupae. Now the queensonly duty is to lay more and more eggs, thousands of themin her lifetime. Many wingless workers develop and help toenlarge the nest into an intricate network of tunnels andchambers that will eventually house thousands of ants. When the colony becomes well established, the queenbegins to lay some eggs that develop into queens andmales. It takes a few years before a colony becomes largeenough to send out winged males and young queens to startnew colonies. The cycle will now begin all over again.

    Ant nests come in all shapes and sizes. One tropicalspecies built a nest that extended forty feet below thesurface of the ground. Another species built a nets thatcovered an area the size of a tennis court. Ants know thebest time to build a nest, thats after it rains. The damp soilis easier to work with. Their are many chambers in an antsnest.

    Some rooms are used to store the food. Some areused for storage of ant eggs. There are rooms for tiered antsto rest. There are even rooms for socializing! When itscold, the ant colony moves down to the deepest rooms ofthe nest where it is warmer. The reason we find ants understones is also for warmth. Stones become hot from the sunand remain warm during the night.

    The warmth will radiatedown into the nest and keep the young and older ants warm. Ants are social insects. Most insects have no familylife, but ants are different. Ants have families and live in communities. They areall related in the colony because the queen ant is the momto all of the ants.

    In the colony, every ant works for thewelfare of the whole community. Each ant has itsappointed work, and does it very well. Ants are everywhere, they can be a big problem for people when they invade thetimber of a house , causing the wood to collapse. Theyeven nest between walls. When ants invade wooden beams, they chew out extensive interconnecting chambers fornests.

    All this chewing is what weakens the wood . Whenpeople discover the ants chewing up their house, their isonly one way to get rid of them extermination!The jaws of an ant are very powerful. Their powerfuljaws not only chew through wood but are also used to fightoff enemies. Ounce an ant gets a bite on its enemy, dontexpect it to let go, even if it is torn to pieces.

    Its jaws arealso used to grasp, carry, cut up food, and carry theiryoung. Ant jaws work differently from human jaws. Theants jaws move from side to side. They actually have twosets of jaws.

    The set that moves side to side are calledmandibles, the other set are called Marilee. These jawschew food into very small pieces. Pieces that the tonguelaps up and passes in to a pouch below the mouth openingthat contains contracting muscles. The muscles actionsqueezes the liquid out of the pieces of food. Since antsswallow mainly liquids, they spit out what is left of thefood. Ants cant use their jaws to talk butthey do communicate, and very well.

    One way theycommunicate is by touching each other with their antennae. They also communicate by producing chemicals calledpheromones. These chemicals can give off different kindsof information. The taste or smell of a certain pheromonecan warn of danger, or mark a trail. Another way some antscan communicate to one another is by sounds. The soundsthey make are like the sounds of a cricket or a katydid, onlynot as loud.

    Also, sounds that communicate informationare made if one ant rubs its armor-like body againstanother ant. Although the ant cant talk, it has greatcommunication skills. There are about 100,000 species of ants. They areusually black, brown, or rust color. There are some that areyellow, some purple, some green, and some are even blue.

    There are to many to write about them all, but here is someinformation on a few ant species. Amazon antAmazon ants cant survive with out slaves. Theyattack the nests of other ants and kidnap the pupae, thenwait for them to develop into adults. The slave ants acceptthe amazon ants, the as their own, because they dont knowthey were kidnapped as pupae.

    These slave ants will spendtheir entire lives working for the amazon ants. The amazonant has a sickle shaped jaw, its excellent for fighting but itis completely useless for taking care of themselves or theirown larvae. They must depend on their slaves to survive. Harvester antHarvester ants can be found almost everywhere in theworld. In the southwestern united states they build hugenests. The mound above ground might be twenty to thirtyfeet across and six feet or more in to the ground, with sixtythousand to ninety thousand ants living inside.

    Harvesterants collect and store seeds in their nest. They chew thekernels into a soft pulp and feed it to the growing larvae. The adult ant will not eat the pulp unless there is a drought,and no other food sources are available. During rainytimes, the ants will not allow the seed to get damp. If theydid they would sprout or get moldy. When days are dry theworkers carry the seeds outside to dry them out in the sun,then carry the seeds back into the storage area beforenightfall.

    They work hard to make sure their seeds dontget moldy or grow sprouts. Leaf-Cutter antsThe Leaf-Cutter ant always looks like its carrying alittle umbrella over its head. Its actually carrying circularpieces of leaves. Using their scissor like jaws, theycompletely strip trees and other plants of their foliage. Theythen carry all the leaves back to their nest.

    The chambers ofthe nest can be as big as a bushel basket. The leaf cutterants nest is very large. The leaves they bring back are noteaten they are chewed into a thick pulp like material, whichsoon sprouts fungus. The fungus is what the ants eat forfood. The ants tend to their gardens very carefully. If theleaves are dry, the ants place them outside at night tocollect moisture.

    If they are wet, the ants place them outside on a sunny day to dry. This all takes place before theystart chewing the leaves. The little ants also know how toregulate the ventilation and temperature of the sponge likemass of chewed leaves by arranging the mass properly inthe chambers. When a queen starts working on a new nest, shecarries along a pellet of fungus in a pocket on her head. She puts the pellet in the new nest and deposits specialsecretions from her body on the pellet. When her first eggshatch, the new workers go out and find fragments of leaves.

    They then bring the fragments back to the new nest. Theseare the leaves that will eventually become the food sourcefor the nest, using the queens pellet as a starter. Bulldog antsThe Bulldog ants are little bullies. They are a jumping,stinging, giant ant. They are one of the most fierce antsknown to man. Just a shadow passing over their nest willprovoke them to rush out and find the enemy, jumping upto a foot off the ground as they approach.

    They make itvery difficult to get away from them. Thirty stings from abulldog ant could kill a man. The only likable thing aboutthem is how loyal they are to the colony. At home in thecolony they are just a typical ant, their always working,repairing, cleaning, exchanging, and gathering food.

    Thebulldog ant is a very aggressive ant, and a very loyal one. Five more facts to think about the next time you see anantAnts are the longest living insects. Workers livefor one year and some species up to four or five years. Queens will live as long as twenty years. Ants are like sharks, they havent changed verymuch physically in millions of years.

    Ants will work together in small or large groupsto move extremely large objects. (team work)When moved to a different climate or location,the ant will adapt quickly. Some ant species can survive under water for upto fourteen days or longer in a state of suspendedanimation. The next time you see an ant, remember. . .

    They mightbe little but they are extremely mighty.

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