Want to learn some fun facts about the ant for your school presentation or project? This ‘facts about ants for kids’ article will tell you everything you need to know!
If you’re looking for other facts for kids, be sure to check out the rest of our facts for kids articles here.
Amazing facts about ants
Ants can be a pest. They can get in your home and infest your food, plus some ants can give you a nasty bite or sting. But ants are actually pretty cool creatures. When you start to learn some of these interesting facts about ants, hopefully, you will gain a new appreciation for these incredible, tiny insects.
Ants fact list: Information about ants
Here are some quick ant facts for kids:
- Ants are very successful as they have colonised the majority of the planet (excluding Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland and some island nations).
- There are over 12,000 species of ants and they vary in size ranging from 1mm to 50mm in length.
- Ants are six-legged insects from the Formicidae family.
- Ants can be red, black or brown in colour.
- Ants can live for a very long time – the queen ant of one particular species of ant can live up to 30 years!
- Ants are super strong. A single ant is able to carry many times its own body weight. Next time you see an ant carrying a crumb, appreciate its weight lifting abilities in relation to its tiny size.
Ants habitat: Where do ants live?
Ants live in a nest. This can be known as an ant habitat, ant colony, an ant’s nest, an ant hill or a formicary. All of these words refer to the pile of earth in which ants live.
Ants make intricate tunnels in their nests to get from place to place. Living underground keeps them warm and safe from predators.
How do ants breathe?
Ants don’t have lungs like you and I. Instead, they have lots of tiny holes over their body called ‘spiracles’. Oxygen enters their body through these and carbon dioxide excretes through these holes.
How do ants communicate?
Did you know ants don’t have any ears?! Instead, they listen using vibrations to understand their environment and surroundings.
Most species of ants have either two eyes or five eyes (although some have adapted and don’t have any eyes at all!). Most ants can see but their world is blurrier than the one that we see.
Ants communicate and find their way around using their antennae. Their antennae is used to smell, touch and feel things. They can even speak to each other by tapping their antennae.
When an ant finds food, it can leave a trail of scent (pheromones) that other ants can follow using their antennae to smell the way. An ant’s antennae is flexible and can bend, just like your elbow!
Even with no ears and limited eye-sight ants are great communicators!
What ants make up a colony?
Ants take on different roles in an ant colony.
The queen is at the top of the chain. There are also female worker ants and male worker ants.
Most of the ants you see are female – worker ants and soldier ants are female and their jobs are to gather food, defend the nest, take care of the queen and the young, and tend the nest.
The only real job of male ants is to reproduce. Male ants die soon after mating and their full life span might only be a week.
If you’ve ever owned an ant farm, you might have noticed the ants die quickly. This is because an ant nest needs a queen to thrive and continue.
The queen ant is the only ant in the ant’s nest that can lay eggs, so her job is essential to the future of the colony. The queen spends her adult life laying eggs and she can lay hundreds (and even thousands) of eggs in one day.
Some colonies have just one queen ant. Other colonies can have many queens.
Some ant queens can live for many years (up to 30!) and have millions of ant babies in their lifetime!
Ant colonies need a queen for their survival. If their queen dies, the ant colony is in real jeopardy as they can only survive a few months without a queen.
Why isn’t there a king ant?
Ants have queens but not king ants. There is no need for a king in the ant society as all ants know their roles, and as male ants die so soon after mating their purpose has been served.
Do ants have wings?
Male drone ants have wings, and fertile females that are future queens have wings so they can fly off and create a new colony. The queen of an ant nest will have had wings at one stage but she will shed them when she starts her colony.
Ant bites and ant stings
Have you ever had an ant bite? Ants defend themselves by biting with their jaws and pinchers which are located on their heads, or using their stingers located on their bottoms.
While some ants can be harmless, others can give a very painful bite or sting.
Ant stings can be very painful as some ants inject a venom into your skin. Some people are also allergic to formic acid, a chemical that is released into your skin. This can feel very sore and cause irritation.
Some stinging ants include:
- Fire ants – these bright red or sometimes black ants have pinchers AND stingers. Pain from their bite can last for up to an hour.
- Green ants – these black ants have a metallic green head and they bite you with their jaw and then squirt formic acid into the wound. While the pain can be short-lived, some people can have an allergic reaction to the bite.
- Jack jumper ants – these 10 – 15mm long ants grab their victim by their jaws and then bend to sting using their tail and it can be very painful (as well as resulting in a potential allergic reaction).
- Bullet ants – otherwise known as paraponera clavate – are known for their extremely painful, intense sting that is said to feel like being shot by a bullet. Bullet ants live in Central and South America.
How to soothe an ant bite
If you have a painful ant bite or ant sting you should wash the skin and apply a cool compress to the area. Treatment for ant bites includes applying a topical cream or taking antihistamines. If you are concerned about an allergic reaction, you should seek medical advice.
How many ants are there in the world?
If you’ve been wondering how many ants are on earth, it’s a pretty crazy answer. Myrmecologists (biologists who study ants) suggest there are one quadrillion ants roaming the earth!
How to prevent ants from infesting your home
Ants come into your home looking for food. The best way to avoid an ant infestation is to not leave any food waste that might attract them. Keep counters clear and keep food in sealed containers.
Facts about ants for kids
I hope you’ll agree after reading this ‘facts about ants for kids’ article that ants are pretty cool insects! Ants are super strong, they can live for years (well ant queens can!) and they’ve quite literally taken over the world.
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