Almost all ants live within a strict hierarchical system – working individuals, uterus, and brood.
Those goosebumps that usually catch our eye are ordinary hard workers or barren females. They are unable to reproduce, therefore, the list of duties of such individuals includes the extraction of feed, the protection and improvement of the colony, as well as the care of the brood.
In a number of cases, there is also a distribution into separate subclasses within the working class. Workers with a powerful physique perform the role of soldiers. Their functions include protecting the ant house and storing liquid food supplies in special goiter, for which small working goosebumps are responsible.
The most important and safeguarded member of the ant house building is the uterus, a fully fertilized female.
Outwardly, it differs from ordinary working ants in a more massive abdomen and a slightly different structure of the sternum. The uterus passes the main part of life deep underground, where the workers zealously guard it. The main and only calling of the queen mother is to lay eggs.
Red-chested woodworms and turf ants contain only one fertile female for each family. Her death means the death of the entire colony.
However, red-headed forest, red-headed mimrika, and pharaoh’s ant have even an excessive number of queens – in the first species, the number in the hundreds and sometimes thousands, and in the two remaining ones – in the tens.
The total number of individuals in families among different species of ants is also not the same – for example, in mimriks this number reaches 5 thousand hard workers, but up to a million gluttonous pests can live in a nest of a red forest ant.
The main task of the ant colony is to ensure the survival of their offspring, or brood, which includes eggs, larvae, and pupae. The goose’s eggs are very tiny, with a diameter of less than one millimeter. Working individuals combine them into separate “lots”, which are then dragged into the compartments of the nest with the most favorable temperature and humidity. In the same way, they handle larvae.
The developed larvae are divided and distributed into separate chambers, where they lie on the floor or are suspended from the ceiling and walls. In formation, before pupation, the larvae are wrapped with a hard, whitish-yellow carapace. It is such mini-cocoons that we usually mistake for ant eggs.
Once a season, winged young females and males are selected from an ant nest. Winged individuals from different families form a swarm in which mating takes place. After that, the males die, and the fertilized ladies get rid of unnecessary wings and begin to run on the ground in search of a reliable refuge. Some of them become dinner for birds, carnivorous insects, and toads, and those who were lucky find a new home and start a family.
In fact, ants are truly amazing creatures. See for yourself by watching a short video.