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Ants - Mating, Reproduction, And Life Span, Labor Management, Defense And Offense, Communication, Ants And The Ecosystem - development Social structure and behavior

species abdomen colony nests

Ants are insects in the family Formicidae in the order Hymenoptera, which also includes bees and wasps. The body of ants is divided into three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen. The head bears two long, flexible antennae (for touch and chemical detection), two eyes, and a pair of powerful mandibles (jaws) for feeding and defense. Ants have three pairs of long legs that end with a claw. They are attached to the thorax, which is connected by a narrow petiole, or waist, to the segmented abdomen. At the tip of the abdomen are the reproductive organs and the stinging organ (in some species). Ants live in highly successful social communities called colonies, and are found worldwide in cool scrublands, hot deserts, inner cities, and tropical rain forests. Their nests are constructed underground or in tree-top leaf nests woven with silken thread.

Ants weigh 0.28–1.41 oz (1–5 mg), depending on the species. In 1994, 9,500 species of ants in 300 genera were recognized, and it is expected that many more species will be added to this total.

Mandibles are elongated, saw-toothed, blade-like pinchers that snap together sideways, allowing for the efficient capture of living prey and providing excellent defense against predators. Females of ground-dwelling species of ants secrete an antibiotic substance, which they smear throughout the nest, thus protecting the entire colony from the fungi and bacteria that thrive in damp, decaying vegetation.


Ants live in eusocial communal societies where, typically, members are clearly segregated into breeding and working castes. In the colony, several generations of adults reside together, and the young are fed, nurtured, and protected deep within the mound. A typical colony of the Pheidole tepicana comprises the queen, the males, and six castes of workers.


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8 months ago

I am currently raising a young chickadee that is not currently releasable. I was feeding it ants from our back patio, most of them red, but was told that ants release a certain chemical that is bad for the bird and I should not be feeding it ants. I don't know if this is true but there is nothing else in our backyard that I can find in quantities large enough to keep its protein levels up. I am currently feeding it a Mazuri insectivore diet as well as sunflower seeds and peanuts, both chopped, dried mealworms, anything I can catch outside, other than ants, suet with seeds and insects.

Can you please confirm whether feeding ants to the chickadee is unhealthy for it? Are black ants (harder to find) better? We live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Thank you.

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