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The Social Behavior of Ants

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Ant Colony Hierarchy

Ants are eusocial insects, which means that they live in one of the most complex social systems. Eusocial insects live in social structures in which adults live in groups, care for young is cooperatively managed, not all individuals have reproductive capacity, and there is an overlap of generations. Many different types of animals are eusocial, including insects, crustaceans, and some mammals, but ants have some of the most complex eusocial behavior on the planet. 

One of the hallmarks of eusocial behavior is that there is an intricate division of labor. For ants, this division breaks down into castes involving queen ants, worker ants (always female), and drone ants (always male). Each caste of ant has their own job and performs these distinct roles to keep each colony functioning properly. 

Queen ants are the founders of each colony. She lays all the eggs in the colony and is the sole reproducer for the whole colony, sometimes producing thousands of eggs regularly. Queen ants live up to 30 years. Worker ants are female ants whose reproductive capability is stunted by chemicals that the queen emits. They are responsible for building and maintaining the nest, for protecting the nest and for making sure the colony is fed. Drone ants are male ants and their only job is to mate with the queen ant. They die as soon as they have fulfilled this job. 

How Do Ants Communicate?

Ants are in constant communication with other ants of their own colony. Several ant species do this through the use of chemical scents or pheromones. Worker ants leave a trail of pheromones as they leave the nest in search of food. This trail can then be followed by other ants to find the source of food and also so that all the ants can find their way back to their nest. As more and more ants find this pheromone trail and follow it, leaving their own pheromones as they go, the trail and scent become more distinct and stronger helping other colony mates to know this is the way to find food or to find your way back home.

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The creator of this review received compensation by RMICPA, LLC on behalf of Terminix®. This review is the opinion of its creator and its claims are not endorsed or evaluated by RMICPA, LLC.

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