Do you know what do ants eat? This article talks about some of the essential facts about the ants diet. These species are linked to the order Hymenoptera where some other insects emerge such as bees, wasps and sawflies. Ants are believed to have been evolved some 150 million years ago from a lineage within the vespoid wasps. These species were diversified after the growth of flowering plants some 100 million years ago and expected ecological dominance around 60 million years before.
E. O. Wilson and his team recognized in 1966, the ant (Sphecomyrma) remains that used to dwell in the Cretaceous period. The specimen embraced the characteristics of both ants and wasps that date back to 80 million years ago. The primitive ants that I’m talking about had been known to live everywhere during the Cretaceous period; however, the population of these primitive insects was limited as compared to other species. Some termites, cockroaches, and mantids are closely related to the ants. Velvet ants are sometimes confused with the large ants but the females are wingless asps.
What Do Ants Eat
Ants are largely termed as herbivores however in actual practice these insects are indirect herbivores. In general, ants are scavengers and generalist predators with some species have a specific way of obtaining food. Certain ant species feed on a fungus that normally develop within the colonies. Ants gather stems and leaves and drag these back to their colonies. However, before collecting, these leaves are tear off into pieces in order to minimize work effort. The bigger ants tend to cut stalks while the smaller species are found to munch on leaves. Leafcutter ants have a distinctive quality in that it diagnoses the reaction of fungus to several plants, identifying thereby the fungus chemical signals. The leaves are left behind and are not taken to their colonies in case it is embedded with the toxic.
These insects have been exclusively known to cover comprehensive distances with an estimate of 200 metres (700 feet). You might be wondering how they reach back? Well, the scent trails enable them to find their way back even in the extreme darkness. Nevertheless, in case of prolonged distances under the hot temperatures, ants usually die due to desiccation; therefore, the adeptness of getting back via a shortest route prevents them from this kind of fatigue.
How much the distance these ants have travelled depends upon the internal pedometer that properly count each ants step. Directions are measured with respect to the sun’s position. Some ant species steer their direction according to the Earth’s magnetic field. Actually there are dedicated cells intrigued in the ants complex eyes that identify the polarized light emerging from the sun. This light, in turn, helps in determining the direction. The polarization is too perceptive in the ultraviolet zone of the light spectrum.
What Do Ants Eat in the Wild
The behavior of the different species of ants varies greatly. Some species of ants, such as the Red Wood ant are common in the coniferous forests of Europe and live entirely by hunting, attacking and eating insects, and sometimes creatures larger than themselves such as centipedes. Other species feed on vegetable matter, and still others on sugary substances, such as the ‘honeydew’ secreted by aphids. The Common yellow lawn ants keep a herd of aphids much as farmers keep cows, feeding them on grass roots under ground where special ‘stables’ are provided for them, and bringing them up under guard to graze during the night.
The ants of the South American genus ‘Atta’ are called leaf-cutting or Parasol ants because they cut the leaves of tree and carry away the pieces by holding them ever their heads like parasols. They bring the leaves to special chambers in the nest where they shed them up finely and mix them with saliva. On the ‘compost’ a fungus is cultivated from spores brought originally by the queen as her ‘dowry’ when she founded the nest. The fungus would, if allowed to mature, produce a mushroom 15 cm high, but it is never allowed to grow more than a few centimeters above the bed. (The New Caxton Encyclopedia, Volume I)
Now you’d probably be aware of what do ants eat!