So, my oldest is a very reluctant writer. He always has been. He’s a literal kid and getting him to read something (or come up with ideas on his own!) and put them into his own words is…a challenge. At best.
Lately he’s been VERY interested in ants. He’s learned SO MUCH in the last couple months, more than most people would ever know about any bug in a life time.
So, because I can, I want to share the report he wrote. I am SO PROUD of the work he’s accomplished on this, with absolutely zero being bugged (get it? heh) by me.
Inside the Lives of Ants
Everyone knows ants. They’re those tiny little creatures you see on your lawn or sidewalk. They are the ones that make those tiny little dirt-hills in your lawn. Sometimes you may even see large masses of ants on the pavement! Those ants are fighting for territory.
Inside ant hills there are different kinds of ants. Some kinds of ants have majors, which are really big ants with huge jaws. They are the jaw-force of the colony. Then there are worker ants, who forage for food and water. Finally, there are queens. The queen’s job in a colony is to lay all the eggs which turn into workers, and soldiers, and more queens, and males. Colonies only produce males and queens once the colony is old enough.
On a special day, known as nuptial flight, queens and males produced by a colony will come out of their ant hill and fly into the sky. Yes, some ants have wings. In the air the males and queens, called alates with their wings, find mates. The males die, and the queens fall to the ground, break off their wings, and dig a tunnel in the ground.
Once the queen makes her tunnel, she lays eggs and cares for the eggs until they are larvae. The larvae then molt three times and turn into pupae. Then, the pupae eclose into workers, who then take over and the queen continues laying eggs. The workers forage for food, care for the queen, and care for the brood.
There are many different species of ant that do many different things. Leafcutter ants are one species of ant. They find leaves and cut them and bring them back to the nest to grow their fungus gardens. Then they eat from the fungus gardens. Tetramorium ants or pavement ants live near pavement and eat food that humans drop on the sidewalk. Lasius or Formica (2 different kinds) ants are probably the ones that dig up your lawn. Carpenter ants are known to live in peoples homes if the wood is damp enough to chew through. They are very big ants that you might see on wood. There are many, many more kinds of ants in the world.
Ants that come into your home are looking for food. To get rid of ants, it is not as simple as wiping them away. Since there is a queen, the queen just lays more eggs which eventually turn into workers. And soon, they will be back again. If you want to rid of them forever, you can make something that the ants have to bring back to the nest to kill them. But if another queen makes a nest near your house again during nuptial flight time, more ants will come.
Ants communicate using pheromones that other ants can smell, and they make tiny noises that humans cannot hear. They can also communicate by touch. Pheromones are how ants swarm food so fast. One ant finds food and leaves a pheromone trail behind. Then the other ants follow the trail refreshing as they go. Then after a minute or so they have swarmed whatever it was they deemed food.
As you can tell by reading above, different kinds of ants live very different lives. And there is so much to learn about ants because they are very sophisticated creatures. Those creatures that most think of as pests and boring are actually really cool.