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Biologically, ants, like bees, belong to the group of Hymenoptera - that is, to insects. To date, scientists have discovered 9600 different species worldwide - and thousands more may have gone undetected so far.
For the ecosystem functions ants are indispensable: they create a heterogeneous habitat and destroy pests. In addition, they are essential for the distribution of diverse plants. There are many more ant species in Germany than you might think: there are a total of 111 species known. It is believed that at least 3 of them were brought in from warmer climates. The ant species, however, are not evenly distributed throughout Germany: in southern Germany, biodiversity is much larger than in the north. In Baden-Württemberg 98 of the 111 known species occur, in Schleswig-Holstein, however, only 48.
Incidentally, almost 75% of all ant varieties are now threatened with extinction and are thus on the Red List. In the species living in Germany, this acutely affects 11 species, 17 others are considered as highly endangered, 31 as endangered. The most well-known strain of these threatened ants is the red forest ant that builds hills.
Why are ant species endangered in Germany?
The most important factor is the loss of natural habitats - that also affects many other living things.
Are there flying ants?
The workers in the ants have no wings, but the males and the future queens. Therefore, they are often referred to as "flying ants". However, the ants - in contrast to the bees - their wings only in so-called "wedding flights" a. These take place in the summer and you can often observe flocks of flying ants. Immediately after the wedding flight, the males die, but the mated queens seek a suitable habitat, throw off their wings and then a new place is founded.
Is it true that ants are stinging?
Some species that occur in Germany, sting actually. Incidentally, the black way ant, which is mostly found in settlements, is not one of them. What you can feel painfully, however, are bites or sprayed formic acid. As a rule, however, the small creepy-crawlies behave very peaceful outside their nest.
A very interesting ant species: Amazon ants
This species organizes raids in other ant states and robs the local larvae and pupae. Then they are taken to their own nest and kept there as slaves.
Ants holding lice
Many native ant species, such as the black wood ant or the yellow meadow ant, keep lice. The honeydew produced by the lice is milked by the ants. But the aphids also benefit from this kind of livestock: through the ants, they enjoy protection from the deadly ladybugs. This relationship is called trophobiosis. Although usually no one is happy when an ant trail leads directly through the parlor or even an ant nest is discovered in the garden - one should always keep in mind that ants in the garden are very important to the ecosystem. After all, they ensure that dead insects are eliminated as quickly as possible.
This contributes to the ecological balance. Moreover, they keep the proportion of other insects and spiders low. However, the fact that ants keep lice is anything but pleasing to the gardener: no one likes to see his plants heavily infested with lice - and the plants are also not doing well. Anyone who wants to eliminate ants can do so without the use of chemicals: for example, by relocating by filling a clay pot with damp straw and then putting it over the nest. If the ants have relocated to the pot, you can put it down again elsewhere.