The Complex World of Ants
If you’ve ever tried to remove an ant colony, you know how tough and persistent these creatures are. They are a nuisance and can be destructive, but they also have amazing abilities, build complicated structures, and share more than a few traits with humans.
Most people know ants are incredibly strong. They can lift objects 25 times their own body weight. The common American field ant has a neck joint that can withstand 5,000 pounds its body weight.
Like humans, ants are highly social, yet also possess a competitive and sometimes warlike nature. Some species build colonies, and others travel like nomads to find the best food sources. Their societies have many rules, and use division of labor to find and store food as well as building and sustaining colonies.
They have intricate means of communication, using odors to give and receive vital information. They mainly exchange news about impending danger and food. If an ant is killed violently (by crushing) it sends out signal to all other nearby ants, who will go into a state of frenzy in response to the alarm.
Ants have been observed closely by humans, and we’ve determined that they may be the only other species (besides us) who can learn simply by watching another ant. This is known as vicarious learning, and hasn’t been recorded anywhere else in the animal kingdom.