Ants may be small in stature but they are considered one of the most highly sophisticated social insects that roam the Earth. From fire ants that deliver very painful sting to harvester ants that harvest plant seeds and store them as a food source, ants are a diverse insect group. Read on to learn more about these incredible and mighty ants.
Acrobat ants are several species of small to medium-sized ants commonly found in Florida and other Southern states. They get their name from their habit of raising their heart-shaped abdomens above their thorax when disturbed, as if performing a balancing act. These ants range in color from yellow brown to dark brown; and about 1/16- to 1/8- inch long. These mighty ants are often found nesting in damp soil, in shrubs, decaying woods, and beneath rocks. They feed on a wide variety of food, including insects, meats, and the honeydew produced by aphids. Like all ants, the acrobat ants may produce “swarmers” — winged, reproductive individuals. Warning: Don’t be deceived by acrobat ant size, they have ‘stingers’; travel in trail and invade food sources, making the food unsuitable for eating.
Amazon ants are any of 6 small reddish ants of the genus “Polyergus”. These “slave-raiding” ants are warriors of the nastiest kind — known to attack the nests of other ant species, carrying off the pupae and rearing them as slave workers. These vicious ants with grotesquely -shaped jaws raids the colonies of other ant species, because they have no workers in their community.
Argentine ants are an invasive species of dark ants native to southern Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. These ants are among the world’s 100 most invasive animals and are a serious pest concern in the United States. Argentine ants are capable of building “supercolonies”. A common household pest, these ants form large nests in wet environments; near a food source such as meats, eggs, oils and fats. There can be multiple queens in a nest. Typically, Argentine ants are dark brown to black in color and measure around 2 to 3 mm long. These incredible and excellent infiltrators do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food.
They are the nomads amongst the ant species because army ants don’t make permanent nests. These ‘legionary ant’ is nocturnal terrors that conduct nighttime raids of other brood nests, using their large, strong mandibles to tear apart their prey. Unlike other species of ants, Army ants built their nests –forming some sort of a ball by linking together their own bodies! Army ant workers are nearly blind, only the queen and drones (males) have single eyes. These active, aggressive insects can kill and eat up to 100,000 animals in a day! Their diet includes: earthworm, lizards, larvae, wasps, turtle eggs among others.
Don’t mess up with these mighty ants, their stingers can inflict potent and unbearable pain! Measuring about an inch long, these huge ants are widespread in lowland rainforests in Central and South America. They live in tree canopy searching for insects and nectar. Colonies consist of several hundred individuals. Workers are sturdy, reddish-black, wingless wasps measuring around 18–30 mm long.
You must be on the look out for Carpenter ants. They get their name because they build their nests in wood. They do not eat it. However, unlike termites that eat the wood, these huge ants will hollow out some areas of it; leaving ‘frass’, a sawdust-like material. Carpenter ants have dull red bodies with black abdomens. Worker ants measure between 1/4 to 1/2-inch long. A colony can have 2,000 or more workers. Carpenter ants feed on sugary foods, meats, insects, as well as nectar from plants. These mighty ants can cause limited structural damage, but if left unchecked, they will eventually damage the wood that keeps the house standing.
These mighty ants get its name from the citronella-like scent they emit when crushed. They built nests in the soil and often create one under slabs and porches. Typically, workers are yellow in color and measure around 4 to 4.5 mm long. The swarmers are about twice the workers’ size and have dark, smoke-colored wings. Citronella ants are active at night feeding on the honeydew (excretions) of aphids. They are treated as a nuisance pest species.
These small, long-legged ants are easy to recognize on sight by their habit of doing rapid and erratic movements, as if they are lost or acting crazy. Crazy ants have a slender body with long, coarse hairs. They prefer to build their nest indoor (in damp locations), especially in the soil of potted tropical plants. The queen measure about 19.1 mm (3/4 inch), while workers are about 6.44 mm (1/4 inch) long. Color ranges from brown to black. Their diet includes food crumbs nectar produced by aphids and insects. These mighty ants are swift operators! Once a food source is spotted, workers will immediately crawl all over the food. In such a short time, the work is done and the food source disappears quickly.
Field ants refer to a large group of ant species under the genus Formica. They build nest in open areas near trees, rocks, firewood piles and sidewalks. They seldom nest inside buildings. Field ants are about 3/8-inch long. Color varies from red, black, brown, or red and black in color. The diet includes honeydew, household sweets and alive and dead insects. Field ants do not sting, but their bites can be painful.
Fire ants get their names from the painful sting they deliver that leaves a sensation similar to what one feels when they get burned by fire. To sensitive individuals, the sting can be deadly! There are around 280 species of fire ant worldwide. These mighty ants build nest in moist soil, near pond edges, water lawns and river banks. When threatened, they will defend their nests aggressively. Fire ants can be distinguished from other ants by their copper brown head and body with a darker abdomen. Color varies from blackish to reddish.
They are the desert ants – large ants measuring from 5 to 6 mm long and come in black, yellow or reddish-brown color. So named because they harvest plant seeds and store them in underground nests as food. They build large nests mounds, using grass clippings as materials. Another ferocious and aggressive ant species, they will defend their nest by inflicting painful bites and venomous stings. Two of the most common species are the Texas harvester ant and the western (red) harvester ant.
They are the desert ants native to deserts of North America, Australia, and Africa. They live underground in colonies. Some species of honey pot ants, notably the Camponotus inflatus are edible and are considered a yummy delicacy by several Australian aboriginal peoples. Workers are reddish-tan to dark brown in color and measure from ¼ to ½ inch long. Honey pot ants feed on aphid honeydew, flower nectar and other insects. Aside from the worker ants, there are the so-called “storage units,” that have larger abdomens than the rest in the colony. They are fed up by workers to the point that the abdomen is too filled with nectar. Why? When times get tough, these storage units will serve as a food source!
Meet the fungus farmers! Leafcutter ants are any of 47 species of ants found in Northern Texas, Mexico, South America and Central America. They inhabit rainforest, scrub forests, and open woodlands. These fungus- gardening ants tear off the leaves of plants and bring them in their underground nests. They chew the leaves and the decaying pulp is to use it as compost to cultivate a particular fungus. Size for size, these ants are so mighty, they can carry pieces of leaves that weigh almost 20 times their own body weight! Leaf-cutter ants are large ants with powerful mandibles and long legs. They are dark red in color and measure from 0.1 to 0.5 inch long.
Trap Jaw Ants
Small as they are, Trap jaw ants are unique species of ants. These mighty ants have large, powerful jaws capable of opening 180 degrees; and can snap shut its jaws on helpless prey with lightning quickness. Studies have clocked the speed of their jaws between 126–230 kilometers per hour! Their powerful mandibles have other uses, including: defense to evade predators, in nest building, and care for larvae. Trap jaw ants inhabit the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas.
These mighty ants are known for their distinctive nest building behavior. Weaver ants are considered tree-dwelling ants where the worker ants are tasked to build complex nests by weaving together leaves using larval silk. Weaver ant larvae are capable of producing silk thread with their bodies, needed to glue the leaf edges together. They are widely distributed throughout the tropical forests of Africa and southeast Asia. Color ranges from yellowish brown to a shade of red depending on the species. Weaver ants are highly territorial and workers aggressively defend their colony. They do not have stingers, but are known for their painful, irritating sting.