Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
Most widely used name for this species
The name of the animal in science
The place where something is found
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
|2mm - 25mm (0.08in - 1in)|
|Number Of Species:|
The total number of recorded species
The average time the animal lives for
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
|Brown, Black, Red|
The protective layer of the animal
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
|Soil and cavities in wood and plants|
|Average Litter Size:|
The average number of babies born at once
The food that the animal gains energy from
|Leaves, Fungi, Insects|
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
|Insects, Echidna, Anteater|
Characteristics unique to this animal
|Social insects and pincers near the mouth|
The ant is a small sized invertebrate that is found all around the world, with the exception of the polar regions including the Arctic Circle and Antarctica. As with many other species of insect, there are numerous ant species inhabiting many different environments all around the world.
There are more than 12,000 recognised species of ant worldwide, but there are estimated to be nearly 14,000 in total. Ants are thought to have developed from wasp like creatures 100 million years ago after blooming flowers appeared on Earth.
Ants are found in many different sizes and vary in colour depending on the species of ant. Some species of ant even have wings so are able to fly which only extends the range of their territory. In the more humid environment of the tropical jungles of the Southern Hemisphere, the ants are generally of the bigger species, often reaching more than a few centimetres long.
Ants are extremely sociable insects and have a complex social structure where every ant individual has a purpose (effectively a job). Ants live in colonies and have a social structure from the worker ants that gather the materials and food, as well as nursing and caring for the ant larvae (the babies), to the queen ant that runs the nest and is the only female that reproduces in her colony.
The queen ant often can live for over a year which is considerably longer than the lives of the worker ants which only really last for a couple of months. The queen ant produces between 800 and 1,500 eggs per day which are fertilised by the sperm of the male ants which is present in the nest. Remarkably, ant eggs that have not been fertilised will still hatch but produce sterile female ants that become worker ants as they cannot reproduce.
Ants are omnivorous animals and therefore eat a mixture of both plant and animal matter. The diet of the ant primarily consists of leaves, fungi, honey, nectar, small insects and dead animals, although the exact diet of the ant depends on the species. Some ants species have a more herbivorous diet, where other species of ant mainly eat meat.
Due to their abundance and small size, ants have numerous animals that prey on them from tiny insects to reptiles, mammals and fish, and even certain species of plant have also developed ways in which they can digest them.
An ant is said to be able lift up to 50 times its own body weight, and be able to be pull more than 30 times it own body weight. This is the equivalent of an average human adult lifting a fully grown African elephant!
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First Published: 13th November 2008, Last Updated: 8th November 2019
1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 13 Nov 2008]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 13 Nov 2008]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 13 Nov 2008]