Kids' Animal Station

For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals

Did You Know?! – Ant Edition

As we all probably know by now, memes are one of the funniest and most effective ways in which information is spread. A meme is pretty much just a humorous or relatable image or video, often with added text or sounds, but they can take vast points of views. They can be about animals, history, celebrities, science or political controversy. Lately me and some of my friends have found a lot of ‘meme potential’ or comedy in insects, especially ants and the strange ways they live so much differently than other people.

A meme made by me about Honeypot Ants

1 The meme above is a great example of information you can learn about a subject through a funny picture/text combo. While the ant in the image may seem fake, did you know that this is an actual type of ant called the Honeypot ant. These ants utilize specialized swelling abdomens to consume and collect food, for example, honey, and bring it back to the colony.

2 Another cool fact about ants that you may not know is that, even though fire ants are the most well known type of ant which can deliver a nasty sting, the bull dog ant is considered the most dangerous ant to humans. Living in the coastal regions of Australia, Myrmecia pyriformis is an extremely aggressive species of ant, with a very strong venom that can be especially potent in an entire colony. The bull dog ant has actually been recorded as being responsible for killing 3 people since 1936.

3 Another one of my personal favorite memes, and ant facts, is displayed below. An ant spiral, otherwise known as an ant mill, is a phenomenon among types of army ants who become confused by differing pheromone tracks and essentially spin as a group in a circle, likely until they die. It is a strange and somewhat unsettling phenomenon to witness, even in videos of the spirals online. Scientists theorize that this has something to do with the army ant’s nomadism, as they are one of the few ant subspecies that do not make permanent colony nests.

An Ant meme made by me

4. In my opinion, differing symbiotic relationships between animal species is one of the most interesting subjects. It is so fascinating to think of a natural ‘compromise’ or connection between animal species, especially ones who may usually avoid each other, such as sharks and the remora fish. Interestingly enough, in this way we know ants mostly for their symbiotic relationship to aphids, who they almost treat like cows. Ants provide protection against larger insects and creatures, while aphids offer them food, nutritious plant sap generated by their diet. However, the Attina tribe of ants is a subcategory of ants which work mutually with certain species of fungus. The ants transport and germinate the fungi while the fungus will break down previously indigestible leaves into edible sugars the ants can then harvest and sustain their larvae off of.

An ant meme, by @cryptid_ant_monster on Instagram

5. The meme above has an interesting commentary on the role of the worker ant in an ant colony. As humans we may find it odd, but the single Queen ant is really the main focus of every other ant type. The common working ants are smaller female ants who mostly stay inside the nest and tend to the young larvae, while a minority of ants are ‘drones’, male ants whose only function is to mate with the Queen, thus continuing the future of the colony.

6. Despite their tiny bodies and perhaps simple appearance, entomologists have experimented to discover that individual ants can perform a vast range of intelligent behaviors. Not only are they efficient at spreading information and forming large communication networks as a colony, but ants can navigate an incredible amount of natural and man made obstacles. Also, ants can then demonstrate that they will utilize newly learned tricks later on in time, remembering from a bank of their techniques and skills. Imagine how smart we’d find out ants really are, if we could get down to their ‘level’ and understand more from their insect perspective.

A microscopic, close up photo of an ant’s head

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Wise Words

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if a person or animal is at stake."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
— Translation of African Proverb

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