How big is an ant
Wanted poster: ants
There are around 6,000 species of ants worldwide and around 200 in Europe. Ants (Formicidae) are colonizing insects and usually appear in three different forms (so-called boxes): as females (queens), males and worker ants.
Worker ants reach sizes between 2 and 14 mm, depending on the species. Queens and males can often be twice as tall. The yellow meadow ant grows between 2 and 9 mm, the garden ant, which is one of the most common ant species in Germany, 4-10 mm, the red wood ant 6-11 mm and the horse ant 7-14 mm.
Ants can be winged or wingless. They are differentiated, among other things, by the shape of the connection between the breast and the abdomen (= petiolus), which consists of one or two abdomen segments and can be thickened (knot ant) or scale-shaped (scale ant). The kinked antennae are typical of ants. Few native species have a defensive sting, the poison of which mainly contains proteins. The other species inject their poison (formic acid) against the attackers.
The type and location of the nests depend on the species. There are ant colonies that build their nests in more humid biotopes in the earth, under stones and rotten wood (e.g. red garden ant). Other species build small mounds of earth between lawns or in cracks in the wall (e.g. yellow meadow ant), prefer hollow trees to create their richly chambered cardboard nests there (e.g. glossy black wooden ant) or build large piles of spruce needles over underground wooden structures and earth structures (e.g. red wood ant).
At certain times of the year males and fully developed females, the queens, emerge. Both sexes are usually winged and make mating flights. Soon after, the males die. The female, the queen, throws off her wings and first creates a simple nest chamber in which she lays the first eggs and raises the larvae. As soon as the first worker ants (wingless females with stunted reproductive organs) hatch after pupation, they take on further brood care, expansion of the colony, bringing about food and defense. The queen now restricts herself to laying eggs. Ants feed predatory or on flower nectar and other plant substances. Some species “milk” aphids and collect their sweet droppings.
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