Fun Army Ant Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 10, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Sapna Sinha
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Army ant facts for kids are educational!

Army ants are common names given to over 200 ant species. These ants are nomadic and have a fixed hierarchy with the queen standing at the top with soldiers and workers being part of the hierarchy.

These ants are infamous for their aggressive behavior and ruthless nature where they consume whatever comes in their way when they are on a raid.

Army ants travel in a large colony that is huge, going up to one million individual ants! They work their entire life for the queen, and workers often spend most of their time foraging food and prey for the brood and colonies.

Once the colony is too big, they will separate and create a new colony with a new queen from the litter of the previous queen.

These ants are one of the most studied species of ants and are often followed throughout their journey to study their nature and how they adapt to different habitats and traverse through tough terrain in search of prey and better habitats.

If you liked these facts about army ants, then you'll surely like these facts about the leafcutter ant and the orb-weaver spider.

Army Ant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an army ant?

Army ants belong to the subfamily Dorylinae, and these ant species are notorious for their vast foraging raids. The name 'army ants' (or legionary ants) is given to 200 species of ants.

The army ants consist of 200 different species, out of which the destructive army ants are the most common ant species. Colonies of army ants can be found all across the world and they can be distinguished by the large swarm of army ant colonies that charge forward on the ground and eat whatever comes their way!

What class of animal does an army ant belong to?

Army ants belong to the class Insecta. Insects usually have an exoskeleton with a three-part body, and they also have three pairs of legs. All insects forage in a swarm or groups, lay eggs, and are considered to be pests all over the world.

How many army ants are there in the world?

New World ants consist of 150 of the army ant species and the Eciton butchellii, or the army ant is one of the archetypes of the species.

There is no accurate count of how many army ants exist in the wild. A single army ant colony might consist of 150,000 to 2 million individuals!

Where does an army ant live?

Army ant colonies can be found in Central America, South America, Africa, and parts of Asia. Army ants can adapt to various habitats because, during the nomadic phase, these ants move all the time and only have a stationary phase when their food sources decrease.

The worker ants forage for food and soldiers protect the queens while she lays eggs.

What is an army ant's habitat?

Since these ants have a nomadic phase and a stationary phase, they don't have a fixed habitat. They will keep moving and only stop when the queens lay eggs and this halt in their path will last for approximately 15 days.

During this halt, the workers will forage the ground around them and capture insects, spiders, and other animals that come across their path to feed the brood.

The most common places these ants and their raid can be found are deserts, mountain heights, rainforests, swamps, tropical forests, and volcanic islands.

Who does an army ant live with?

Army ants live in groups and most of the foraging is done in groups as they live in colonies. The hierarchy of these colonies put the queen at the top as she lays eggs the whole day.

The soldiers focus on defense and protecting the road from animals.

The medium-sized worker ants take care of foraging and the smallest worker ants tend to the brood of the queen. All the workers and soldiers are sterile females meaning they can't separate and form their brood or colonies without a young queen from the previous queen.

How long does an army ant live?

Army ants have a wide range of lifespans. The queen and her colony alongside her brood can survive for more than 20 years.

Male drones, however, will die soon after then mate with the queen. Worker ants have a life cycle that ends just after a year. The life cycle of soldiers and males isn't recorded so there is no way of knowing exactly how long they survive.

How do they reproduce?

Males will fly between colonies and will run and control the workers in the alien colony that they are in. The work they show in running the colony determines their suitability with the queen.

Workers play a part in choosing which male will copulate with the queen of their colony. Thus, in a way, workers play a role in choosing the kings and queens of their colony.

Males are similar to queens in their build and toughness. Males try to impress the queen with a show of control and running the colony well, and if a queen is impressed by the shown toughness, she will allow the male to mate with her.

A male will mate with one queen in his lifetime and soon after mating, he will die.

The entire colony will provide care for the developing brood. Queens are only focused on the job of simply egg-laying, the workers feed and care for every egg, larvae, and pupa.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN currently has no special status for the species of Army ants as these insects can be found in abundance in North, Central, and South America. They keep moving for new food sources and will continue to thrive in any form of habitat, be it tropical or desert.

Army Ant Fun Facts

What does an army ant look like?

A colony of army ants.

Eciton burchellii, or the Army ants are polymorphic. They have long, pointed hook-shaped mandibles. They have an elongated body with long legs that resembles spiders.

They use their tarsal hooks on their feet that they use to form bridges to cross the rough ground. They are golden to a dull brown color. Workers have a well-developed sting with compound eyes that are found on their faces.

How cute are they?

It would be tough to call army ants cute if you see them up close as they look quite creepy!

How do they communicate?

Army ants have several ways to communicate with one another. They use chemical signals by releasing chemicals called pheromones in the air to leave trails back to the nest, or when they find food or when they gather to prey on animals.

Workers mark the food they find by rubbing their abdomen on them, releasing pheromones. Aside from this type of communication, they also use vibrations and touch, by touching their mandibles.

How big is an army ant?

Army ants can vary in size depending on where they stand in the hierarchy. Queens can stand at several centimeters in length and the workers of the colony are approximately 0.25-0.5 in (0.6-1.2 cm). Soldiers need to be big to protect the colony from an attack.

How fast can an army ant run?

These nomadic ants are not the fastest and can travel at a speed of 0.1 mph (0.16 kph).

How much does an army ant weigh?

Due to a lack of data, the individual weight of adult army ants is hard to state. However, a colony of ants with all the workers, soldiers, larvae, and other members of the colony can collectively weigh about 45 lb (20.4 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male ant is usually called a drone. Females do not have a particular name assigned to them, aside from the queen.

What would you call a baby army ant?

A baby ant is called a larva. The queen lays eggs that might be fertilized or unfertilized.

When eggs hatch, the newborn female larvae will become the leader and a new colony will be formed with her as the queen in control when she becomes an adult. The group of workers working for her will bond with her and leave the parent colony behind and a new satellite colony will be formed.

What do they eat?

Army ants do not need to search for food unless they are in the stationary phase as they keep moving most of the time and will eventually prey on other ants, insects, frogs, lizards and even nestling birds! They will attack and feed on whatever comes in their path.

Sometimes, small vertebrates caught in a raid will be killed and used to feed the larvae.

Are they dangerous?

Despite their ferocious behavior of consuming whatever is in their way, these army ants are not lethal to humans and have a low chance of killing humans. Their bites, with their strong jaws, will, however, cause pain but not enough to fatally harm you!

Did you know...

Army ant foraging parties can create a trail that can be 65 feet wide and 320 feet long.

The army ant is one of the most studied species of ants in the world.

An army ant colony has a maximum lifespan of three years. When the colony is three years old, the workers and soldiers will break off from the colony and create another colony with a new queen.

Army ants can be divided into two groups, the Old World army ants and the New World army ants.

Army ants have jaws that are shaped like shears and this helps them control how they devour their prey.

Queen army ants do not have wings unlike queens of other insects and they can change their size when moving to a new location!

What type of species interaction exists between army ants and ant-following birds?

Ant followers include birds like cuckoos, woodpeckers, thrushes, and many more. These birds search for, and then follow, army ant colonies and feed on this insect.

However, thanks to numerous studies of the army ants, it has come to light that these ants flush out insects and other animals that the ant-following birds might want to eat! So, in more than one way, the army ants help these birds to find food to avoid being eaten.

Why are army ants known as raids?

These insects do not make a permanent nest. Army ant colonies are called a raid because these nomadic insects travel together in a large number of workers, soldiers, males, and queens in search of food, the number can be from a few thousand to a million!

Their aggressive behavior with their ability to destroy anything that comes in their way makes them pretty scary.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects including the black house spider and the potter wasp.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our army ant coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Sapna Sinha

Bachelor of Business Management specializing in Financial Management

Sapna Sinha picture

Sapna SinhaBachelor of Business Management specializing in Financial Management

Sapna has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Poornima University, Rajasthan. She has writing experience from working for a news agency as a writer, interning at various companies, and writing and editing articles on education.

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