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ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



I loving love ant facts and will be following this thread closely

A couple ant questions I had:

So my understanding is that if you kill an ant, that releases pheromones that make all the other ants go nuts, and this is why if you poke an anthill with a stick or whatever they all come swarming out. But the violent parasite queens kill ants and bathe in their fluids, wouldn't this send the ant colony into a frenzy, instead of making them believe the queen is one of their own? Or is my understanding of this wildly misinformed from some dumb poo poo I read as a kid? How exactly do ant colonies detect when they're under attack?

Also, I dunno if you can help me with this one, but when I was a kid on family trips to Thailand, I have very distinct memories of the ants there. They were red ants (not quite as bright as fire ants I don't think, but similar), and about the same tiny size as the ants I've otherwise always been familiar with, except they seemed to have a second caste of worker ant that was way larger than the others, maybe 3-5x as much. I remember those guys very well because their bites would hurt like hell. There wasn't anything particularly different about them vs the other ants outside of their much larger size (I think their mandibles would've been disproportionately large as well?). I think instead of grainy ant hills their nests were more solid, like they'd been constructed out of mud, but I'm not so sure my memory isn't lying to me on that one. Would you happen to know what species these ants could've been? Now that I'm an adult and have an interest in ants outside of waging child war, I'd really like to know if there was anything particularly notable about the ants that gave me so much grief as a child, but a couple quick googles has not helped me identify them. If it helps, it would've been in northern-central thailand (rural village between Bangkok and phichit, much closer to phichit than bangkok)

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ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012




wow, thanks for this great post! it was definitely major ants that i saw, the body proportions were very very similar to the basic media ants, they were just Way Bigger (they also definitely engaged in regular ant work and weren't just for fighting). carpenter ants makes sense and sounds pretty similar, though trying to google images of them i haven't found anything that really looks quite like i remember. the biggest difference is the mandibles, the major ants i remember had pretty big, almost pincer-like mandibles that would extend off to the sides of the ant while at rest/just walking places (i'm pretty sure. though might've just been that they weren't happy to see me and that's what my memories are based off of). doing some quick googling, their mandibles would've looked more more similar to "trapjaw" ants than what i'm seeing for carpenter ants, just perpetually open (though trapjaws are a decent bit further in the pincerlike direction, and definitely lack any resemblance other than broad strokes jaw shape). my memory of the media ants was that they didn't have those same jaws, and if you were to take one and transplant it in my texan backyard it wouldn't look at all different from the usual ants, but given your explanation that doesn't seem to make very much sense. another big thing i'm noticing is that it looks like typically the major workers have disproportionately large heads compared to media ants (more room for jaw muscles, right?), as if they were playing an old video game and had big head mode enabled, while i'm very certain that the major workers i ran into had pretty proportional heads compared to the media.

onto some actual questions:

while there's many notable species of ant with distinct and highly specialized mandibles, there does seem to be a "standard" mandible shape that is employed by i guess the most commonly seen by humans species. i'd best describe it as "clamp-like." you know, these guys:

what's particularly advantageous about this shape of mandible? how do these mandibles serve their specialized purpose better than the much more knifelike mandibles of, say, driver ants?


question 2: there's a lot of talk about ant hivemind intelligence and their ability to engineer complex solutions to problems, but how much of that is "instinct" vs adaptability? or i guess, to what extent can ant colonies learn and adapt to new situations without having to go through, like, evolution to develop new behaviors or solutions?

do ant colonies develop different "personalities?" can one ant colony be noticeably more aggressive in behavior than another ant colony of the same species, or have other little "individualized" (for as much as that word means for a colony) behaviors like preferred foods or deviations in colony structure?

also years back i watched a wonderful documentary following a colony of driver ants through one transport nest -> build nest -> eat everything -> transport nest cycle, got me very hooked on Cool Ant Facts. do you have any good ant documentary recommendations?

ninjewtsu fucked around with this message at 12:18 on Jul 14, 2020

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



This is a wonderful thread!

What are ant diseases like? Do ants have an equivalent of the flu, or some other kind of common-but-usually-not-serious disease? You've mentioned that they make their own antibacterial, but what happens when a colony gets an infection? Are infected workers put into care chambers or anything, or culled, or does the colony even have a mechanism of recognizing that it has an infection? Assuming it does, how does it do so?

Also are there any ant species especially notable for attacking other ant colonies, like beyond typical turf wars or whatever, aside from the already mentioned parasite queens? What are the conqueror ants

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



StrixNebulosa posted:

Seconding these questions but especially this one I'm trawling youtube for documentaries now. That said ninjewtsu if you can find this documentary again I want to watch it!

e: watching Empire of the Ants now because there's roughly an hour between now and the new Harvest Moon game dropping and what do you know that's the perfect length of time for ant facts

I'll try to remember to find it after work tonight!

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



StrixNebulosa posted:

Seconding these questions but especially this one I'm trawling youtube for documentaries now. That said ninjewtsu if you can find this documentary again I want to watch it!

e: watching Empire of the Ants now because there's roughly an hour between now and the new Harvest Moon game dropping and what do you know that's the perfect length of time for ant facts

here you go bud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwEubzr7sCs



this poo poo is hardcore as hell and i love it. don't mean to be monopolizing the ant questions but i want to know so much more!

iirc i once heard/read that there's tons of ants living under the ocean (underwater? or merely subterranean beneath the seabed?), potentially more than exist on land. i can't find anything backing this up on google so maybe it doesn't exist and i'm full of poo poo, but in any case do ants have any interesting interactions with large bodies of water? i know there's the famous antrafts but is that all there is to it, or is there more to ants and water than that?

also, what are the major ant predators and what are ants' defense mechanisms against these? seems like ant colony growth is generally more limited by access to food than any real predators (and the vulnerable period when a new nest is forming), though there's obviously parasites and whatever the hell anteaters are too.

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



How do ants react to rain? What goes on in the nest during a rainstorm? Doesn't it mess up all their pheromone trails?

Is there any ant prey that have developed sophisticated anti-ant defense mechanisms?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



what are ant emotions like? obviously they have a fear response and can be stressed, but are happy ants a thing? is that something that's considered per ant or per colony? can ants develop mental disorders, like are there ant colonies with PTSD or some kind of ant equivalent? what is ant neurology like

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



What're the most unusual materials that ants are known to construct their nests out of?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



How many queens does an ant colony make each mating season? Is that mostly determined by how much food they get?

If two queens from the same parent colony both survive mating and set up nests somewhat close to each other, do the colonies recognize each other as being from the same parent colony?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Are there any quick nobrainer recommendations you would make for someone considering getting their own ant farm?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Goons Are Great posted:

Oh that's easy and just the right time for this, as getting queens now is super easy!
In terms of equipment you basically need nothing but a small tube, bottle, whatever goes, at best a test tube. Costs a few cents and can be bought en mass.
Then you also need some sort of box, obviously a specific glass formicarium is best, but a properly setup plastic box can already do the trick, too, at least in the beginning.

If you start at the very first step, just a queen, you just need a test tube, or something similar, a bit of cotton wool, water and either red foil or just some paper you can put around the test tube. That's literally it and will do for at least the first two, three months depending on the species. If you get a hibernating species, it might be even be enough for the rest of the year - last year I managed to do just that with a new queen I collected during nuptial flight.

I can go into details in how to start an ant farm if you want, I recently collected three queens during nuptial flight and can demonstrate it easily with them, but it depends on what you want to start.
Any particular species you have in mind? Any special idea you want to follow through? Do you want to get started with pet ants or rather colonize your garden with them? Is it something you just want to try out for now, or are you interested in actually keeping ants permanently as pets?
The general setup is easy to do in about 5 minutes and costs maybe a dollar at worst. Getting the ants is usually the tricky part, but if you're living in the right area currently mating, it should be easy to do and entirely free. If not, buying queens collected by hobbyists and professionals is right now easier than any other time of the year and usually does not cost more than the shipping and a few bucks. My queen, for example, is right now available on eBay or a sophisticated ant store for 2.90 euros.

i'm in the position of knowing basically nothing about ant farms and just kinda wanting to do it on a whim. definitely don't want to colonize my yard or anything with them, ideally they're as contained within the farm as possible (idk if the landlord or my roommates would be super happy with me otherwise). i'm mostly just thinking about it because earlier you mentioned that if it doesn't work out, it's really easy to just release them back into the wild no harm no foul

i guess key questions right now aside form googling "how do i ant farm" is how high maintenance are they? i have adhd and it frequently results in me forgetting to do important stuff, but it sounds to me like as long as i give them at least some food semi-regularly they more or less sort it out on their own, is that the case? how easy is feeding them? is the colony resilient enough to survive just fine if i forget to feed them one day, or am i better off just watching ant documentaries over condemning one queen and her brood to eventually starve to death?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Are there any interactions between ants and bees or wasps or termites? Or do they just occasionally war with each other same as they would vs any other animal

Do ants ever kill people

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Is that why anthills start popping up everywhere when it rains? They only build wet soil?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



I believe I recall hearing that honey ants are eaten in some parts of the world, googling it says indigenous Australians do. Are there any other ant species that are eaten by humans? Have you ever tasted ant?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Do we know how ants store information? Like it was detailed earlier in the thread how ants can learn, but when they figure out that, say, putting soil in the water bowl makes water stop coming, where is the "brain" that that information is stored in? It's not like every ant has all of that information right?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



That seems like the kind of thing you could test by moving all the ants to a new hive. Do ants retain memory when they migrate their nest? In a situation like that nuclear bunker where ants kept falling into the sealed chamber and survived through cannibalism from earlier in the thread, do the separated ants retain memory?

Do supercolonies transport information across large distances?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Sharpshooter and medic ants are so sick, thanks for sharing this info!

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Are there any ant species where the drones do anything other than have sex and die? Or are there any ant species with particularly notable drones?

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Man I know this is the ant thread but termites sound way more fascinating than I'd ever really given them credit for. I think you mentioned earlier in the thread that they're a superorganism species that developed entirely separate from bees/ants/wasps? I wonder if there's cool termite documentaries out there

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



That is so gross but also I'm so much more curious now

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012




drat termites are fascinating

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



If I was interested in ant keeping but really put off by keeping feeder insects are there any ant species that would work well?

I guess like leafcutter ants just need leaves? But I'm guessing theres more complexity to keeping them than "dump some leaves in every once in a while"

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Wait does like, dry dog food work? Feeder insects are a pass for me but if I can just throw in dry dog or cat food that'd be super easy.

Meat like I'd eat myself seems like a decent option too, though I'm guessing I can't just toss a whole rear end steak into their terrarium and expect that to keep them fed for a month or whatever?

ninjewtsu fucked around with this message at 21:21 on Feb 19, 2021

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



A bottle cap of ground beef once a week sounds like a good excuse to cook more hamburgers, though being able to use sunflower seeds or something as their food seems pretty nice too.

Is there a reason the food should be raw and unseasoned? Does this apply to the seeds too - are roasted and salted sunflower seeds from the grocery store not a valid food for baker ants?

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ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Why are some crazy ants attracted to electricity? What's beneficial about that/what other factors led to them developing that behavior?

Also I am tickled pink to learn that the secret that makes crazy ants so scary is "their queens can Go gently caress Themselves"

ninjewtsu fucked around with this message at 21:47 on Apr 7, 2021

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