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Ants: The Phenomenon Of Insect Societies Research Paper

2068 words - 8 pages

IntroductionAs humans, we constantly strive to be on top and yet, we understand that to accomplish amazing tasks, we cannot do it alone. Teamwork is the essence of great success. In animals, we see that cuttlefish are very intelligent creatures but they are missing something. Ants, on the other hand, are mere insects but they have evolved to be so much more. Alone, an ant is nothing except a lowly bug. When put into a group, these ants operate as one unified entity. They are often referred to as a "super organism". These societies are amazing phenomenon that deserves a closer look.Ants are highly organized arthropods that below to subphylum Uniramia. They are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants are very diverse as they have more than 12, 000 species. Ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth and may constitute up to 25% of the total terrestrial animal biomass. They are known for their highly organized colonies and nests, which can contain up to millions of individuals. Each ant is given a particular job and it depends on the rest of the colony for its survival just as the community depends on this particular ant. Individuals are divided into three main castes, the sterile females which include workers, soldiers and other odd jobs, fertile males known as drones, and the fertile female a.k.a the queen of the colony.CommunicationIn any eusocial society, the key to survival and improvement is communication. Ants communicate with each other mainly through the use of chemicals called pheromones. These chemicals are present in most insects but are much more advanced in ants. Ants sense or smell with long and thin antennae located on the top of their head. Because they come in pairs, they provide information about direction as well as intensity. Here are some communication techniques used by ants."Alarm" - Ants use a special pheromone for defensive purposes. When attacked, ants are small and do not present much of a threat so an individual ant will always call others. When released in low concentration, it causes the other ants to adapt a state of readiness or warns others of an impending danger. A crushed or severely wounded ant however will emit a high concentration of alarm pheromones that would send nearby ants into an attack frenzy. Some species use a highly evolved "propaganda pheromone", which would confuse enemies and cause them to fight amongst themselves."Friend or Foe?" - Pheromones are used to identify certain individuals. You can often see ants approaching each other and "sniffing" with their sensitive antennae. This is done to make sure the other ant is a colony member and not an intruding ant from another area. Friends would go along their business or show courtesy by feeding one another. If they are foe, the ants either run or begin battle."Follow me" - When a forager ant is walking around and all of sudden finds a food source, how does it get the rest of her colony to find it? Ants...

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