Ants: Key Facts

Did you know there are at least 12,000 distinct species of ant in the world? Or that ants outnumber humans by as much as 1.5 million to 1? Keep reading to learn more about these and other key facts about ants!

Quick Facts About Ants

Scientific Name:Formicidae
Type of Animal:Insect
Number of Species:At least 12,000
Physical Description:Small, strong insect with head, thorax, body, and six legs. Most are brown to black in color. They have antennae on their heads. Most ants cluster together in large colonies underground. Their larvae are small, white, and oval-shaped.
Distribution:Worldwide; found on every continent except Antarctica.
Habitat:Ants live in a variety of diverse habitats, such as deserts, prairies, woodlands, wetlands, mountains, and tropical regions.
Size:Depends on species; from 0.03 to nearly two inches long, and from 1 up to 150 milligrams.
Lifespan:Depends on species and status within the colony. Worker ants may live anywhere from 2 to 12 months, while a colony’s queen may live from 2 to 30 years.
Diet:Omnivore; ants will eat almost anything, including:
– Sugary foods
– Fruits and vegetables
– Seeds and grains
– Insects
– Small mammals
– Small birds
– Small reptiles
– Decaying meat
Life Stages:Four stages:
– Egg
– Larva
– Pupa
– Adult

What Are Ants?

You’re probably familiar with the dark, tiny insects trying to make off with crumbs from your countertop. But what are these little creatures, exactly?

Ants are a class of insect that includes at least 12,000 known species; scientists speculate there may be another 12,000 species that have not yet been identified. Ants are so common in the world that they outnumber humans 1.5 million to 1.

These insects are smart and highly adaptable to their environment. They are cold-blooded, but they can survive harsh winter temperatures by moving their colonies in warm spots (such as the walls of your house) and clustering together for body heat.

They are incredibly strong for their size, as they can lift up to 50 times their own body mass. Members of a colony frequently work together to move objects and bits of food much larger than themselves.

Colonies are made up of one queen ant, many female worker ants, and male ants who die shortly after mating with the queen. The queen lives many times longer than workers and males and is the only member of the colony that reproduces. 

Ants have four stages of life. They begin as eggs, hatch into larvae which are tended by the worker ants of the colony, morph into pupae, and eventually emerge as adult ants.

Ants are widespread throughout the world and can be found everywhere except Antarctica. They have their own predators as well.

Check out this video to learn more about ants:

What Are Some Strange Facts About Ants?

Ants are really quite fascinating insects, which are very important for the environment. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about them:

  • Most ants are blind and deaf: Ants don’t have ears; instead, they pick up on vibrations in their environment to know when danger is approaching. Some ants also don’t have eyes; they communicate and move around by using their antennae, much as a blind person would use a cane.
  • Some colonies have more than one queen: Some ant colonies grow exceptionally large because they have more than one queen reproducing.
  • 3,700-mile-wide ant’s nest: The largest ant’s nest in the world was discovered in Argentina in the year 2000, and it was made up of billions of ants belonging to 33 species. This 3,700-mile-wide nest was actually a cluster of colonies that had merged into a single nest.


Ants are strong, hardworking insects found throughout the world. They live together in large colonies made up of queens, female workers, and males whose sole purpose is to mate with the queens. 

Don’t forget to read about other forest insects – these are our popular guides about bumble bees, dragonflies, and karner blue butterflies.

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