We are the Dolphin Class. Teacher Chelsea is here with Felix, Daniel, Sean, Andrew, Wayne, Evelyn, Kate, Ginny, Ethan and Aaron. We really like ants.
Here are some of our questions:
We want to know, how many different kinds ants are there? Why do ants line up when they walk? Why are ants small? What is the difference between red and black ants? What color of ants are there? Why are ants bugs? Why do ants like to eat what people eat?
The Dolphin Class
Hi Teacher Chelsea, Felix, Daniel, Sean, Andrew, Wayne, Evelyn, Kate, Ginny, Ethan and Aaron (the Dolphin Class),
According to the AntWeb homepage, one of the most up to date and accurate resources for ant taxonomy, there are currently 14,891 ant species known to science. (We have a previous post on ant species diversity here.) These species have been described in detail by expert ant researchers around the world. However, there are likely several thousand more species that have not yet been found or researched so if you start collecting ants now, you could very well find a species that no one has seen before.
Ants leave scent trails on the ground when they want other members of their colony to be able to follow the same trail. This behavior often results in ants moving in a line down the narrow path laid by ants that have gone before. They lead each other around in order to share the location of high quality food resources, move to a new nest site, or even raid other ant colonies. Take a look at this post for a little more information. And speaking of food resources, ants like the same food that people like because they are rich in nutrients that the ants can use to grow and feed their larvae. The very same reasons that we like them!
Ants come in a wide range of sizes and colors. This post gives some details on the largest and smallest species and explains that the largest ants are 3 cm long! Not very small at all. As for colors, you already know that ants can be pure black or bright red but they can also be anything from brown to yellow. Colors often tell little about the differences between ants as they can be quite variable even within species. As you can see in these pictures taken by Alex Wild, there are even bright, golden and green ants.
Above: Camponotus seriveiventris. Below: Oecophylla smaragdina. Photos from http://www.alexanderwild.com.
We are very glad to hear that you like ants so much! Keep thinking about them and ask your teacher as many questions as you can!
Ben Rubin & the AntAsk Team