There are many different kinds of ants all over the world, even in the cities. Scientists have classified around 8,000-10,000 species of the insect family Formicidae that live in highly organized societies called colonies.

Ants belong to an order of insects called Hymenoptera, a group that also includes bees, wasps, and sawflies. Some species of wasps and bees resemble ants in that they live in colonies and are, therefore, said to be social, but ants are the only hymenopterans in which every species is social. 
Scientists believe that ants evolved from wasps more than 100 million years ago. The oldest known fossil ant (an intermediate species between wasps and today’s ant) lived when dinosaurs flourished. The most specific evolutionary trends in the development of ants are believed to be the following: cooperation (presence of several generations in the sane nest); lost or modified sting, presence of a special gland, containing poisonous fluid.

Ants are tiny insects and their size varies from 3mm to 3 cm. They are mostly drab colored - rusty, brown, black, and some can be yellow, green, purple or blue. Ants have a large head and a slender, oval abdomen joined to the thorax or midsection, by a small waist. The antennae are elbowed.

 Fun Fact Collection
Did you know that certain birds are supposed to become “addicted” to ant poison? They sat on an ant-hill and let the ants crawl onto them. At that time the bird loosened its wings, stared and looked ecstatic. In fact, the biological reason for this phenomenon is the insecticide effect of the ants’ formic acid, protecting from parasites.
In all ants, the altrunk contains a special structure called metapleural gland which secretes an antiseptic chemical that destroys bacteria, such as streptococci, staphylococci and also pathogenic fungi. Ants rely on this chemical to keep their underground nests free from microorganisms that might destroy eggs, larvae, pupae or stored food supplies. Some species have a powerful sting at the tip of the abdomen. In addition to the poisonous fluid that ants are able to spray at a distance of up to 10 cm (containing formic acid, alkaloids etc.). Ants use their mandible for biting. Some species possess a very strong mandible – a deadly weapon against many enemies.

Ants go through a complete metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa and adult. They eat seeds, insects or eggs. Their predators include the anteater, pangolin, armadillo and humans. In their daily life ants seek food for their queen and look after their eggs and the young. They fight in order to find a source of food or to protect their nest. Ants armor includes the following weapons: 

  • strong mandible for biting
  • poisonous spray
  • powerful sting
The activities of ants occasionally bring them into conflict with humans. Some tropical ants, such as the Army ants and Driver ants, as well as the Australian bulldog-ant can cause painful wounds. The Fire ant sting leaves pus-filled, itchy bump that is easily infected. Ant envenomation may be very serious even fatal in some individual cases. Apart from the swelling, rash, facial oedema and wheezing, life threatening systemic reactions such as shock, apnea, cardiac arrest and death may occur in allergic persons.

Since ancient times people have been familiar with the medical effects of ant poison. Two thousand years ago, it used to be recommended for treatment of skin diseases. In Africa, tribes down the Nile River treated neurological diseases by burying the patient in a formicary. Local doctors in New Guinea, after performing a light surgical operation, used bulldog-ants to sew up the wound. The jaws held the skin closed and the body of the ant was torn out. Native Americans in some southeastern states sometimes ate honeypot ants as a sweet treat of a form of medicine. People in the American tropics sometimes welcome Army ants into their homes. These people temporarily move out of their homes while the ants sweep through and consume or drive out any pests that may have infested the home.

Preventive measures:

  • Destroy all Hymenoptera’s nests around your home
  • Keep your feet covered outdoors
  • Avoid bright colored clothing and perfumery products
  • Prefer to wear tight that floppy clothing
  • When you encounter the insect, stand still or retreat slowly. If it lands on skin, quickly brush it off. 
  • Use the personal first aid kit to treat allergic individuals