Owing to the fact that ants live as well in the most arid deserts as in the wet tropical areas. it is understood that their dwellings can be very different. In fact, in the Tropics, certain species of ants do not have a dwelling at all. Nomads or wandering, these ants form alive walls of workers around the queen and young.
In the cold countries, like the Scandinavian forests, a permanent shelter is necessary. Carpenter ants like those of genera "Camponotus", build their nests in wood: with their powerful mandibles they dig gallery and expel sawdust outside. They succeed in digging in trees, and sometimes also in the beams or frames of the houses. Rooms are arranged in wood and the colony lives thus in this shelter. Certain carpenters ants have a large heads which are used as door of entry: the openings of the tunnels have the same size that the heads of the sentinels and those block the entry, preventing the enemies from penetrating. When the workers return from outside with food, the sentinel lets them enter only if they struck their antennas "for give the password".
There are many species of ants living in wood or using wood like building material, but they are different from the carpenters ants. In the forests of Europe, ants put pin needles and brushwood on the top of their anthill, like that higher rooms and tunnels are heated by the sun. Another species of ant transforms the dry-rotten wood into a kind of paperboard to manufacture nests suspended on the trees.
In South America, a specie of ant build very curious nests. In the equatorial forest of the Amazon basin, where the ground is always wet, these ants collect mud and transport it in top of the trees. Mud is deposited on a branch, each worker bringing a mouthful at the same time, until a large ball is made up. This ball can measure up to 20 centimeters of diameter and they do rooms and tunnels on it. We think ants plant seeds of plant. Quickly seeds germinate, the ball covers flowers and the roots strongly consolidate it: even the violent ones equatorial storms do not succeed in carrying mud. These plants exist besides only in such anthills, one never found them elsewhere!
Other ants of the tropical areas and certain parts of Asia, like those of the oecophylla genera, live in a dwelling do of leaf. They choose suitable leaf and they bring the leaf edge with their mandibles, then you can see an astonishing phenomenon: another group of workers take young larvae which are able to spin silk to made their cocoon. The workers, pass the larvae of one edge to the other of the two leaf and they stick the edge with the silk produce by the larvae. It is one of the rare examples of animals using a tool.
In China, the farmer collect nests of these ants and suspend them on their fruit trees: as they are very combative ants, they draw aside the harmful insects.
The ants pile up the refuses, around the openings of their anthill, doing mound which can done one meter in height. There is always under ground rooms who are used as attics for supply, the nursery, the queen room, and piece where the larvae weave their cocoon and are transformed into nymph.
The ants are very clean and careful and they always leave corpses of the nest. Some put in precise places the deaths like a cemetery
Ants Of Kind Iridomyrmex
The majority of the colonies of ants are always ready to make war to the neighbors. The true domination that the ants of Iridomyrmex-genera established on the others, partly comes from their capacity to push back the other species: there are frightening fighting.
Some species attack separately or without precaution, but Iridomyrmex act as a team. They attack in mass and surround a isolated enemy of which legs and antennas are quickly cut down and the crushed head. Even against adversaries of bigger size, like the ants of wood, Iridomyrmex are almost always victorious.
The warlike ants of tropical areas do not have a permanent residence. They group in immense armies and leave in war, killing and devouring any alive animal met in their way. They form long columns with strongest soldiers ahead and on the sides, in the medium you have weaker ants. In the center of this army the queen and workers are carrying the young; even the hundreds of eggs and larvae are transported: the warlike ants with their long legs carrying the nymphs under themselves.
Columns moving of Eciton, warlike ants of South America, can measure more than 100 meters of length and 30 centimeters broad. The soldiers walk coast to coast, their touching themselves body, and a such mass of fatal ants can count million individuals.
Some ants are omnivorous, eating of all, but the warlike ants are carnivorous: they eat only meat. No animal, being on the way of these terrible destructors, is in safety. Thanks to their enormous mandibles, measuring until half of the size of their body, these ants can kill and devour all kinds of small animals. They can even come to end from larger species like rabbits or pythons, if they are wounded or taken in traps.
The warlike ants leave only bones; even rats and mice are not in safety in their shelter, in their underground residences. We can say that this ant, it is that during their walk they clean up all what cross their path from rodents and harmful insects.
Even water does not constitute for them an obstacle : arrived at a river, they form a large balls, bind the ones with the others, the queen and the eggs in the center. These balls float and walk begins again as soon as firm ground is reached. The small brooks are crossed even more easily: the scouts make simply a bridge of their bodies.
Like the armies of men, the armies of ants have their satellites. Species of wasps and Coleopters accompany the columns and take part in the division of the victims. There are also soldiers in rear-guard. Witnesses described the work of the columns of support which attack after the soldiers of before-guard crushed a great number of adversaries. These columns attack in a direction while in direction reverses the soldiers of before-garde transport their spoils of fresh flesh.
When these ants stop their walk, they group in an enormous alive ball with a room in the center for the queen and they spare tunnels between them for the access to the interior rooms.
Warlike ants of the Tropics move unceasingly to find their food, the slave ants have other goals. There are many species of slave ants, even in our countries, like Formica sanguinea. They attack anthills belonging to peaceful species like Serviformica, force the entries, seize the nymphs which they transport in their own residence. These foreign nymphs are raised and, become adult, will make all the drudgeries in the anthill of their Masters.
Amazons, thus called name of a race of remarkable warlike women which fought the Greeks, are widespread in Europe and America. They are probably the most evolved slave ants, one can even say the most deformed. They have powerful who look like sickles; such weapons can slice in only one blow the head of another ant, but, admirably adapted to the war, this mandible can't be useful for feed or the house works. Amazons became parasites, animals which depend on others for survive. The amazons must capture and make slaves of other ants because they can't take care of themselves, or nourish itself.
The body of Amazons is so much deformed and transformed for the war which they can't even raise their own young. A young Amazon queen must, to found a colony, to force a way to the room of a queen of an ordinary species. Arrival there, she imposes to the workers, group all the nymphs present and resists to the attacks of the workers. She finishes to be accepted bye this ordinary colony, she kills the queen of this anthill and takes its place.
Of course, after the death of the first queen, any ordinary ant birth ; Amazons multiply and quickly become more
numerous than the ordinary ants: it becomes necessary to get slaves. Amazons send scouts in the search of nests
of other ants and as soon as one of them is announced they are formed in column and leave to the attack.
The attacked ants defend themselves courageously but quickly are decimated and crushed by Amazons larger and very
nimble. The finished combat, with many corpses strew the ground and Amazons triumphing turn over
to their anthill by bringing back a great number of young people and nymphs of ordinary ants; these captive will
give slaves who will take care of their Masters. When a young Amazon queen leaves the anthill to found a new
Nowhere in the animal kingdom, there are farmers like ants. Those collect seeds, cultivate mushrooms, milk miniature "cows": the aphid, from which they extract a sweetened liquid. Thanks to their social instinct the ants learned the secrecies of agriculture which exceed the understanding of any other animal.
Ants harvester of the genera Messor and Pogonomyrex exist in many areas in the world. One
Around the mound of ants harvester we often see thick grass tufts. It is seeds simply lost by the ants turning over to their anthill.
Leaf Cutter Ants
More advanced than harvester, the leaf-cut ant of the tropical countries, like the ants of the genera "Atta" Central America and southernmost. These ants swarm on trees and on all the branches the Atta genera is known under the name of ants parasols because each individual carries a leaf above him, like a parasol. These leaf are transported in the underground nests, cut out in small pieces by other workers and chewed, just like the ants harvester chew their seeds. But ATTA, do not eat leaf; they make use of it to make push a particular mushroom species. When the mushrooms develop the ants nourish themselves of mushroom develop.
Atta sow really their gardens to be sure that only will push a desired mushroom species. Not only the adults nourish of these mushrooms, but still they place their larvae in the medium of the small gardens so that they are unceasingly surrounded by food.
Whatever the time, whatever the season, they can always make push mushrooms in their underground nests. Leaf-cut ants
reproduce in great number and only one anthill can cover several hundred square meters. The holes of entry in the
mound can do 7 to 10 centimeters and the tunnels can go down until more than 7
meters. The underground gardens where the mushrooms push are immense: some rooms can measure to 1 meter of length and be wide
Many species of ants raise plant louses. The plant louses, small green or black insects, gathering on the plants, have long horns which, boring fabrics of the bark, enable them to nourish sap. ants are fond of delicacies nectar which the plant louses obtain from the sap. When the ants cherish them their antennas they emit at the end of the abdomen a drop of nectar which ants lick greedily. The ants protect their plant louses, sometimes building around them wall of leaf or mud when they are bound on plants. If predator insects of plant louses approach those, ants push back them by attacking them with their mandibles and their poison.
Some species of ants, genera Lasius, are remarkable stockbreeders of plant louses. They live under ground, in the medium of the roots of graminaceous, and their plant louses never see the sun. They take care of the eggs of plant louses which, once adult, suck the sap of the roots. These ants mainly depend for their food on juice sweetened bye plant louses whose several generations live with same masters.
In the south-west of the United States and in Mexico a species of ant of genera Myrmecocystus uses its own workers like containers to store nectar. First of all workers go to far filling their jabot with nectar then return to their nest; there, in special cellars, other workers cling to the ceiling and leave gaver nectar so much so that their abdomen distends, inflates in an extraordinary way and becomes spherical. These ants bottles, thus gavées, remain hung to the ceiling, in reserve, for all their life. Time with other, cherished by the antennas of a worker of the anthill, they will give some drops of nectar to him.