Here are some ant facts for the B.C. woman who shared this image of a swarm of ants in Abbotsford on social media.
“They were piled on top of each other! Hundreds of thousands of ants! Why do they do this?” she asked.
The answer to her question is war. These are pavement ants, the species only pile into giant insect blobs for one of two reasons: a feast or a fight.
With no food in sight, this looks to be an ant turf-war.
Ant species are very much like humans when it comes to war – it’s all about resource competition. The similarities don’t stop there. Ant colonies are complex cities complete with a division of labour between workers, soldiers and the royalty, their queen.
Ants are one of the most successful insects on the planet. They evolved around 160 million years ago and have filled a large variety of ecological niches. Today there are over 16,000 different species and it’s estimated there are over 1,250,00 ants for every human on Earth. They make up 20 per cent of all animal bio-mass on land.
When a colony’s population grows into the millions, some will launch massive invasions on neighboring colonies to dominate a food source. The attacked colony can either pack up and move their city away or fight it out.
Their warfare tactics are eerily similar to our methods: they use the element of surprise, use scouts, have battle lines, perform raids and some species can use chemicals weapons to poison their foes. One species can even strategically explode itself in battle.
If you hate ants and were completely disgusted by this article, watch the video below of a man using molten aluminum to massacre a fire ant colony and make cool art in the process.