You may have seen ants crawling around with a pair of wings on their back. These are actually alates — virgin queens and males ready to mate. Around late-spring, alates will wait outside of the nest, waiting for the correct time to take flight. No one knows why this happens but the pattern is after heavy rainfall, as the ground is much softer and easier to dig for queens looking for a place to make their colony. When the time is right, the alates will fly, finding alates of other colonies and participating in a nuptial flight, where queens will be fertilized by 1 or more males. With this sperm, the queens will be able to lay their worker eggs and, for some queens, the sperm lasts a life-time. In some cases, the queen will mate once every few months, as in the case of the driver ant.
A well-known species of ant, the bullet ant is renowned for its painful sting, similar to the feeling of receiving a bullet wound. It most commonly makes its home under very specific species of plants in South America and they mostly forage in the trees. They rarely forage for food on the ground and usually only in relative emergencies. Their main significance is their involvement in the initiation rites of a certain people group in Brazil for young men to become warriors. Ants are rendered unconscious and placed in a glove made of leaves. When they awaken, the young man must keep it on his his hand for 5 minutes before he can remove it.
Ants, like all other animals, produce organic waste. If left to sit in their homes, it may lead to attracting predatory insects, disease, or parasites. To make sure this isn’t the case, some of the ants are assigned the task of taking out the garbage, including excrement, carcasses of previous prey, and all of the dead. This is not a safe job, as in the human world. They are unable to interact with food on their own and are confined to the area which has been designated as the landfill.
The bee, as most people know, has only a single queen. Only she has the right to lay eggs, as well as the proper abdominal figure, proper rearing, and, most importantly, stockpiled sperm to lay eggs. Pheromones that she releases is detected by her workers and its strength indicates whether she is as strong as ever or weakening. But regardless of how strong or weak this pheromone is, there’s an uncommon phenomenon: one of her workers lays an egg. Although the egg is not fertilized and only produces male drones, this, in all senses, is insubordination by the worker. When other workers have found out her treachery, the worker is severely disciplined. She is held a prisoner, or killed, by her sisters and all her eggs are chewed up and destroyed.
As one of the army ants, driver ants are voracious creatures, clearing out areas of insects while constantly on the move. Living in Africa, they mainly prey on termites, killing a vast number of termites to bring back to the colony. In the case that they have emptied an area of food, they pick up everything and leave. To travel to a new location, they form marching columns, traversing through any obstacle in order to find their next home. In some cases, they even inhabit abandoned termite mounds that have been wiped out. What makes them slightly different from other ant species is in their queens and males. They are massive in comparison and the queen lays up to 1,000,000 eggs in a single month. On top of that, she has multiple mates over the course of her lifetime instead of stockpiling sperm after a nuptial flight.