Army ants

Type: Bug/ Insects

Family: Formicidae

Range: Ants are available on all continents except Antarctica. It is found on forest floors in lowland areas, and forests. It is commonly available in Costa Rica. A large army can be found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Cahuita National Park, La Selva Biological Station, Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, Corcovado National Park, Rainforest Reserve and Palmar Sur.

Size: 0.08 to 1 inch (2 – 25 mm)

Weight: These are smallest having a body length of around 3 mm.

Diet: Most species are omnivorous; they eat other insects, seeds, oil and bread.

Average life span: They can live from several weeks to several years. The queens can live for up to 30 years, and the workers live from one to Three years. However, males can survive only a few weeks.

Habitat: Ants are normally found in hot climates. Over 10,000 known species of ants exist in the world. It is found most commonly in Costa Rica.

Breeding/Reproduction: The queen lays the eggs, while the worker ants, who are sterile, watch them. The queen only mates once in her lifetime and may mat with several males. The male sperm are deposited in her system for the rest of her life. Ants are insect that go through egg, larva, pupa and than adult.

Fact: Ants can lift and carry more than three times their own weight.

Army ants are members of the family of Formicidae. They are known as “Marabunta” or Legionary Ants. These types of ants are famous for being an aggressive colony. They are a type of predators that attacks in gargantuan numbers which is called raids. They are considered as active insects since they move their colonies all the time to search for prey. Unlike other ant species which builds anthill for permanent nesting place, these army ants used their own body to make momentarily nest to protect its queen, larvae and pupae. They unite themselves using their mandibles and their feet. This nest are called bivouac. So when it’s time for them to move again, they will just entangle themselves and move on to another place. These army ants are mostly found in South and Central America as well as in Africa. But others can be found in North America.

Physical characteristics of army ants include their sharp mandibles. Actually these jaws are not for eating since army ants can only consumed liquids. They are mostly for defense measures of cutting, biting and even crushing things. The queen and male army ants possess single eyes. But the workers are all blind. They only depend on chemical routes to find their way around the colony. The antennae that they possess aid them to detect that chemical routes and detect things around them.

Since an army ant is a colony they are separated by clusters. One is a queen. It is the one responsible for laying lots of eggs to sustain the colonies existence. Second are the drones which are males. They are the one who mates with the queen. Last are the Workers who are usually females. They are the one responsible for protecting the colony, capturing and delivering prey to the colony and move the eggs within the colony. Army ants have both nomadic and stationary state of activities. In the nomadic state, they move usually during the day to hunt and capture their food. Most of the army ants diet includes insects, anthropods, earthworms, larvae, eggs, oily seeds and some young animals. The other state is the Stationary phase where in they just stay on a certain place for almost two to three weeks to pave way for their larvae to pupate. Since larvae enter into pupa stage, all the food that they gather will be fed solely to the queen. Then she will lay eggs on this stationary state. At the end of this phase they will now resume again in moving on to nomadic phase.

Army ants were known for being aggressive. They follow two kinds of pattern to attack. One is the Swarm front attacks where in the attacks looks like a big wave of ants attacking. Another type of attack is the Raid front attack where in they will form small clusters and will attack from various directions. The big soldier or guard ants will line the chemical trail to protect the workers.
Two types of army ants are divided by New World and Old World army ants. The new world army ants have an estimate of 150 species which can be found in North, South and Central America.
Eciton burchellii is one of the species that belongs to New World Army Ants

The Old World army ants were mostly known as “driver or safari ants” and found mainly in central and east Africa and to the tropical parts of Asia. These types of army ants make temporary anthills. Dorylus gribodoi mostly found in Africa is one of the species that belongs to the type of Old World.

Army ants have the ability to devour prey on its trail due to the fact that they travel with the whole colony which mostly consists of hundreds or thousands of army ants. So sometimes some animals flee for safety when they are near. The main predators of army ants are usually birds and even chimpanzees. But army ants have some beneficial contribution to human farming since they prey on agricultural pests. Also, some parts in Africa used these ants strong bite to stitch a wound naturally. It usually holds for days so the patient has time to go to a nearby hospital for proper medical care.

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