Ants


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Small weightlifter

Ants are perfectly organized insects - for example, have you ever noticed that there never be a collision on an ant street? If the route is so narrow that two animals can not pass each other at the same time, they wait together on one side until oncoming traffic has overcome the bottleneck. Then the group starts closed, until on the other side a queue has formed again. As researchers found out, they get as fast to the finish and back as on a comparatively broader route. But not only in this regard, the hard-working insects have us much ahead: When transporting the lightweights often drag 50 to 100 times their own body weight.

In teamwork, they master even more and even headfirst: ants can on their feet, if necessary, evert small adhesive pads that stick to almost any surface. Despite these outstanding achievements, the creepy-crawlies are not welcome everywhere. By April at the latest, the busy insects conquer the patio, yard and meadow - especially near the house, ants are often annoying. But even without chemistry, they can in most cases be put in their place.

Ant nest in the lawn

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Nests of ants

Ants: garden

Our native ant species build their nests mainly in or on the ground. Here is a classic nest, as you can often find in the garden

Ants: garden

Ants like to build their nests in sandy soil - the leveling layer under path plates is therefore a preferred location. In addition, it heats up much faster in spring than the normal garden soil

Ants: their

On pastures you will often find these solid and grassy hills. At first you might think of the mole, but it is the nests of the yellow meadow ant

Ant nest in the lawn

Ant nest under path plates

Ant hill on meadow

Ants are not pests

Ants are not among the pests, because as waste eliminators they have a useful task in nature. However, they can become annoying when they lay their nests under terrace slabs and paved garden paths, occur in too many numbers or even look for food in our apartments.
In the garden, she makes her preference for leaf and root lice unpopular among gardeners. They feed themselves and their offspring on the sticky-sweet excretions of the lice, the honeydew. The ants even defend the attacks of natural enemies from their "milking cows" and transport the lice spawn in the spring to the garden plants, so that they find enough to eat and multiply diligently - in biology is called such a partnership for both purposes symbiosis.

Waldameise

The Forest Police: The forest ant and its nests are protected

species

There are around 12,000 ants worldwide, around 180 of which are distributed in Europe. The Black-Brown Way Ant, the Yellow Meadow Ant and the Red Garden Ant are among the most common species in the garden. The Hymenoptera are known for their lives in large states with a pronounced division of labor: Queen, female workers and male drones each perform special tasks. Their nests build them mostly in the ground or on the earth's surface. You can find them in the lawn and on meadows, under terrace plates and sometimes in the flowerpot.

Recognize ants

The ant's body typically consists of three segments: the body, the breast and the abdomen. Like all insects, they have six legs and a chitin shell. In addition, they sometimes have very large biting tools, depending on the type, with which they can cut leaves and defend themselves. Ants vary in color from black over red to orange and yellow. Also in terms of size, there are big differences. So there are very small species that are barely larger than a pinhead, and the protected forest ants, which reach about one centimeter in length.
The most important body parts of the ant are the feelers. They serve the insects for touching, tasting, smelling, communicating and - in addition to the complex eyes - the orientation. When communicating (the "Betrillern"), the ants caress with the feelers. For example, one worker tells the other that she is hungry and wants to be fed.

Ants when cheating

Ants at the "Betrillern"

offspring

Offspring only gets the queen. There may be several of these in some ants in one state. During the wedding flight in early or late summer, the young queens are fertilized by the male, also flying ant drones. It is not the winged animals - as often suspected - a separate species, but the sexually mature animals of a state. The young queens are significantly larger than the wingless workers. Hundreds of airworthy ants in an area often leave their nests during the same period. The drones die after the wedding flight. The queens start new states and then lose their wings again.

Queen ants

The young queens leave the nest with wings, but discard them as soon as they find a place for their new nest

food

Ants feed on insects, plant juices and honeydew of shield or aphids. As already mentioned, the latter are defended as valuable food suppliers against enemies such as ladybirds and sometimes even relocated to plants close to the nest. Ants always go in search of food in larger groups and move about within a radius of up to 30 meters around their construction. They take over important functions in the ecosystem: as "health police" they kill carrion and dead insects, during nest building they transfer large amounts of biomass into the soil and as robbers they decimate a considerable number of pests. They also overwhelm insects and spiders, which are considerably larger than themselves.
Also on peonies and the fence vetch (Vicia sepium) you can often see ants. The reasons for this are the sweet sugar juice that the peonies form on their flower buds and the sweet nectar of the fence vetch.

Ants on peony

The sugary secretions of peony magically attract ants

Life in the anthill

Ants love sandy soil and build their nests usually in a sheltered place in the lawn or under stones or deadwood. The underground dwelling consists of numerous passages that lead to different nest chambers or ventilation. Within the building there is a strict division of labor: The queen lays exclusively eggs and thus ensures the survival of the state. The workers are responsible for nest building, brood care and the search for food. The defense of the building is also part of their duties, they also provide the queen with food. In addition to female workers, new queens and male drones are used depending on their feeding.

Look in an ant nest

Ant colonies work like a precise movement - even if it looks rather chaotic at first glance

countermeasures

Since the ants have a very sensitive sense of smell, they can be confused with strong smelling substances. In the garden trade, there are fragrance-based ant dispersants that drive away the creepy-crawlies. Also worth a try are cinnamon, lavender, marjoram and tomato leaves, which are sprinkled or laid on the runways. The homecoming workers are then disoriented and no longer find the nest.
More radical is the method of covering the ants' earth nest with a flat stone or tile, under which an "ant bait box" is placed. The work ants bring the deadly food into the nest and use it to destroy the queen-laying queens and their brood. Equally deadly is the pouring of the ant nest with boiling water - we strongly advise against both methods.
Targeted attract the ants by high glasses with honey or jam remnants. So caught, the animals can be suspended elsewhere. You can even relocate a whole state by putting a wooden flower-filled bottom-closed flower pot over an existing nest. The workers move the building into the flower pot and after a few days it can simply be placed somewhere where it does not bother. However, you should prepare the old building with fragrances, otherwise it will soon be seized by another people.
In all measures, keep in mind that ants know how to defend themselves very well. Biting species spray burning formic acid, some species can also sting.
So unless your nest bothers, ants should just be left alone. Perhaps they would like to thank you in a very special way: If violets bloom in the garden in an unfamiliar place, the industrious animals are not uninvolved. Because of their special nutrient-rich appendage, ants transport the seeds of violets into the structure and feed the nutrients to the offspring. The remainder of the intact seed is returned to the outside and often germinates on the spot.

Roommate in the ant

Many animals take advantage of ants, but hardly a living being is as audacious as the dark meadow-button-ant-blueberry. He lays his eggs on buds of the large meadow button (Sanguisorba major) and the offspring goes directly into the proverbial cave of the lion: The hatched caterpillar drops after some time to the ground, where it exudes an irresistible honey smell for ants. The usually caterpillar-eating, but now misleading creepy crawlies haul the supposedly sustainable source of honey into the building, where the caterpillar destroys aplenty of ant larvae until it pupates completely unmolested. After a few weeks, the butterfly hatches, but then - now unprotected - has to leave the dust.

Butterfly in the ant frame

The Caterpillar of the Dark Meadowbill Antbling lives in a very daring nursery

Video Board: My New Favourite Ant Farm of All Time!.

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