Table of contents:
- Amazing creatures ants
- Quarantine for ants
- Features of the life of ants
- How to scare off ants?
- Ants and aphids
- Biological balance
Video: These Amazing Ants - Fight Or Get Along? Description, Features Of Life, How To Scare Away. Photo
When ants are found on young branches of a pear grazing aphids, or in a dog's bowl, or in a hive with bees, I want to kill them all. Then, watching a dozen ants turn the caterpillar towards their dwelling, I cool down and become imbued with good feelings for them. While working on flower beds with roses, under the stones with which they are fenced, I find ant nests with tunnels dug deep into our dense clay. Here I want to shake the paw of every ant, because picking this clay is a kind of hard labor. This article will be about the relationship with these ambiguous creatures.
- Amazing creatures ants
- Quarantine for ants
- Features of the life of ants
- How to scare off ants?
- Ants and aphids
- Biological balance
Amazing creatures ants
Ants are so common that it is somehow not accepted to be interested in them. But in vain! Studying the life of different species of ants can give a lot of new plots for literature, computer games, as well as tales at your leisure. For example, a female yellow odorous ant knows how to enter the family of another ant species, and so charm the whole anthill (!) That the ants kill their own female and begin to serve other people's offspring.
Malaysian worker ants are able to manifest themselves as kamikaze: in the event of a serious attack, the ant tears its abdomen with muscle tension and sprays a substance that sticks together the enemy!
Amazon ants steal pupae in the nests of other ants, from which "slaves" are raised to serve the nest and get food. The Amazons themselves are exclusively engaged in raids.
The weaver ants use their larvae like instant glue tubes and glue the leaves with thin sticky threads to build homes for the whole family.
Leaf-cutting ants in the tropics create entire mushroom farms, competently composing the substrate, "weeding", regularly cutting off fruit bodies they do not need, feeding the mycelium, and getting food for the whole family. The spent plantation is disposed of in specially prepared waste chambers and tightly sealed. By the way, one of the antifungal antibiotics used by leaf cutters to protect against pathogens is adopted by humans and is known as nystatin. Moreover, they still have small predatory ants on their plantations, protecting the mycelium from springtails.
In the Amazonian jungle, ants breed "devil's gardens" from the plants they need, destroying all the rest. At the same time, ants use peculiar herbicides to control plants of another species. And in plants that are useful to them, they live themselves and grow herds of mealybugs, using them by analogy with aphids.
Some species of ants have adapted to accumulate liquid carbohydrate food (secretion of aphids, etc.) in reserve. At the same time, food is stored directly in ants, they have such a special caste with incredibly swollen bellies - "honey barrels". In times of famine (as a rule, during droughts), these reserves are consumed by all family members.
All of the above is just a small part of the amazing ant world. These insects are able to competently build dwellings underground, on the ground, in rotten trees, in the crowns of trees and inside human dwellings from any materials. And there is no need to talk about a social organization that, without logistics, management and daily meetings, ensures the stable work of a huge family.
Quarantine for ants
Apart from mushroom growing, gardening and construction, ants have a lot to learn. In 2018, an experiment was carried out at the University of Lausanne on black garden ants. More than 2,000 ants were glued to their backs with a barcode and their movements were tracked using infrared cameras.
Several foraging ants were infected with a parasitic fungus, which has an incubation period of 2 days, and then it grows into the ant's body, forms spores and scatters them around, infecting others. Ants are very social creatures, and their premises are limited.
So, even before the first symptoms, the family moved the infected away from the anthill. They themselves have stopped contacting healthy relatives. The sanitary measures did not end there: the nanny ants hid the eggs and larvae away, and only those who were indispensable remained to take care of them. Contacts were limited to a minimum and everyone else, dividing among themselves the responsibilities of the sick.
As a result, the infection did not reach the female, nannies and children.
Features of the life of ants
I would like the ants to use their abilities for the benefit of gardeners. Unfortunately, no agreement has been reached yet. This means that we will have to look for compromise solutions. To do this, first, it is worthwhile to study in more detail the future object of cooperation.
In the garden, it is most likely to find a black garden ant, pale-footed, turfy or red- faced. And brown forest (gray-black, by the way, color). There is no fundamental difference between them.
The family of ants consists mainly of females: sterile - workers, fertile - a female or queen (there may be several of them in the family), males are hatched exclusively for the sake of fertilization of females and die after mating. If a flock of winged ants is encountered, the youth have grown up and flew out to mate. Each fertilized female will create a new nest.
It is not at all correct to call a female a queen, because she has no authority. The ants have no reverence for her. And the more females in the nest, the more disrespectful attitude towards them. Working ants can move females to other nest sites, exchange them with neighboring anthills, and kill unproductive ants.
By feeding mode, ants are able to change the ratio of castes (foragers, guards, nannies, food keepers, cleaners, etc.) in the family. At the same time, the females are nevertheless well looked after and protected, since the survival of the family depends on them. Unsuccessful attempts to destroy the anthill, as a rule, are due to the fact that most of the worker ants die, but the female and brood remain.
After a while, new ants will begin to emerge from the pupae and everything will start all over again. Female ants live long. Record in captivity for black garden ant - 28 years!
Features of the structure of the anthill
Anthills in the garden are mainly located below the soil level. Or they have a small aerial part. All anthills have many passages, chambers, warehouses in which the life of the family proceeds. In the most comfortable zones (warm and humid), "children" are placed: in some - eggs, in others - larvae, in the third - pupae. An obvious advantage is the immobility (eggs and pupae) and inactivity (larvae) of ant children. The dream of kindergarten teachers.
Depending on the season and weather, ants hang out their kids in different rooms: in the heat - deeper into the ground, where it is cooler, in the rain - in less damp places, etc. During the construction of housing (and it goes on all the time), ants shovel a huge amount of soil for their size and constantly organize new passages and chambers. This I mean that those who want to dig an anthill and move it to the neighboring forest, have serious work to do.
By the way, the soil in the areas of anthills is quite fertile: ants tend to dispose of garbage, corpses, leftovers in special chambers, which are then sealed.
What do ants eat?
The ants themselves feed mainly on carbohydrate food: nectar, honeydew (sweet secretions of aphids, worms), sweet secretions of some plants (leaves of oak and hawthorn, sunflower, sweet shoots of seeds of some plants). But to feed the larvae, protein food is needed, and here ants act as scavengers and hunters for insects, caterpillars, eggs and larvae.
By the way, they love the eggs of ixodid ticks, until they drag the entire clutch into the anthill, they calm down. They can also eat mushrooms, fruit juice. Honey is stolen from bees, crumbs of dry food are picked up in a dog's bowl.
The sight and smell of ants
Smells play a very significant role in the life of ants. Each ant has glands that secrete signaling pheromones, with the help of which ants communicate. Such is the means of communication. Some ants know how to use the "propaganda pheromone" to make enemies fight among themselves. The long articulate antennae on the head are the sensitive organs that sense smells, vibrations and wind, and they are also used for tactile contacts.
But their vision is worse than that of mammals, despite two faceted eyes on the sides of the head and three more simple ones that determine the level of illumination on the crown. Therefore, ants respond better to movement, and looking at a stationary object requires additional effort.
The ant's head is equipped with powerful mandibles for carrying heavy loads, building and fighting.
Fortunately, our "Russian" ants are not stinging and especially poisonous. In a simple way, they spray caustic formic acid from the sting located on the abdomen. Well, they pinch the mandibles.
How to scare off ants?
We'll have to come to terms with the idea that it will not work at all to destroy the ants. With the help of various poisons, you can poison some of the ant families, but others will come in their place and very quickly.
By the way, the complete absence of ants on the site speaks of its unhealthy state in terms of ecology, sometimes even with an increased radiation background.
The best way to scare off ants is by smells to which they are sensitive. In every garden there are places where the presence of ants is undesirable. We have hives with bees. From time to time I smear the bottoms of the hives around the perimeter with peppermint essential oil - the ants really don't like it. Although the mint plant itself does not seem to create any particular inconvenience for them: they live peacefully under stones in the thickets. However, there I saw pale-footed, not black garden ones.
At home, during wet cleaning, it is good to add peppermint essential oil to the water as a preventive measure. If the ants are running in some place, you can put a piece of film there, smearing it with mint oil. And at the same time, the room will smell pleasant and soothing. Ants also cannot stand the smell of ammonia.
The ash from the smoked cigarettes turned out to be quite an effective deterrent. It was discovered by chance. When the water rat ate some of my beets, I dug out the passages it made near the side of the garden and poured cigarette butts there. I also poured some water to make it stink more. The rat does not appear for the third year, and the ants that lived under the fence of the garden also disappeared. The experiment, demonstrated to a smoking husband, did not have a deterrent effect from smoking.
I did not try to harass ant nests under the root, because I do not see much harm from them.
I sprinkle the edges of the strawberry beds with dry soda before fruiting - normally the ants run around in the soda without any visible unpleasant effects, but as soon as one releases the formic acid, a chain reaction begins: microexplosions provoke other ants to defend themselves. This is not lethal for the family, but the survivors will not go here and will warn others (communication and training are at their best!). Strawberries are intact during ripening.
Ants and aphids
With aphids grazing on trees, some kind of dark story. I have not found references to dragging aphids from nests to trees and back in serious literature. This is logical: it is hard to drag a tree high, it is hard, it blows away aphids with the wind, it washes away with rain. At the same time, the aphids are able to completely independently hide their eggs in the scales and cracks of tree shoots, where they calmly overwinter, which it does.
But when young aphids hatch and begin to process the juice of young shoots of plants into honeydew, the ants will surely find them, will guard and milk them. At the same time, by autumn, when the shoots become coarse, the aphids are almost not milked, the farmer's interest in the ants turns into a gastronomic one, and the aphids are dragged into the nest to be eaten.
Black garden ants take care of different types of aphids. In those places where the herbaceous vegetation in the nesting zone is diverse, they prefer to milk and graze aphids on herbaceous plants, so as not to climb a tall tree every time. But if there is not a blade of grass in the garden, they have no choice.
In the article Botany Aphids and ants - how to deal with them? also expressed doubt about the dragging of aphids by ants. Yes, and how can you carry it if the development cycle of aphids is several generations per season? Only eggs hibernate, and in some species, larvae in warm regions. There are species of aphids parasitizing on the roots, maybe someone, having seen this aphid in an ant's nest, made the wrong conclusion?
And if the access to the tree is blocked for ants, the aphids that appear from the eggs will still suck the juices from young shoots and leaves, only its sweet secretions will settle on the leaves. And subsequently, a sooty fungus will inevitably appear there.
The life of a gardener is essentially an endless struggle: with an unsuitable climate, with weeds, rodents, insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses. Apotheosis - the fight against a ripe crop. Not a minute of peace! While behind a fence or in a neighboring abandoned area, raspberries grow without any care, up to the top in the grass, sweet and large.
In nature, the biocenosis is regulated, and insects, including ants, occupy a strictly defined niche there. Numerous animals, from bears to eucharitids (parasitic riders), are engaged in optimizing their number. In addition to eucharitids, there are also active parasites: lamehuza beetles, butterflies-bluefishes.
And if it is problematic to get a bear to fight ants on the site, then riders will only need flowering umbrella plants (celery, cilantro, dill, angelica, even runny), on which their larvae will wait for ants that have come running for nectar.
Ants include lizards, moles, hedgehogs, frogs, and toads in their diet. At the same time, for the viviparous and fast lizard, common in most of Russia, ants are an essential part of the diet.
From birds - green woodpecker and worm-neck. Moreover, the wormhole loves to eat just garden ants, and feeds its children exclusively with ant larvae. An interesting bird, by the way, pretending to be a snake in an emergency. Many species of ground beetles consume ants.
The enemies of ants do not make any special requirements, they will settle on the site at the first opportunity. Affordable food is the most effective bait! The only wish is fewer chemicals for the destruction of all living things.
And for predatory insects, it is advisable to plant flowering umbrella along the perimeter of the site. Ordinary nectar bears are not suitable, not everyone has such long proboscis like bees and bumblebees.
The ecological niche of ants also provides for their usefulness. Ants settle some plants that have adapted to this particular option, for example.
Loosening of the soil has already been mentioned, and improvement should also be added here - ants process their homes from pathogens. And the remains of vital activity fertilize the soil well.
Ants dispose of corpses of various insects and larvae, they are orderlies. They hunt many small and not very insects, larvae, and with great enthusiasm drag eggs of various insects to feed their kids, significantly reducing their number.
Maybe try to get along with ants?