This is not meant to be an exhaustive study of carpenter ants. It simply presents some interesting facts about carpenter ants. The thing I enjoy most about Snapple is not the drink, though I enjoy that too! I always look forward to reading the “real facts” printed on the underside of the cap. I’ll attempt to replicate that here and elaborate on some of the fun facts! Hope you enjoy reading some of the real facts about carpenter ants!
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Fact 1: There are over 1000 species of Carpenter Ants!
That’s right! There is not just 1 ant species called the carpenter ant. There are over a thousand species in the carpenter clan and they are found in many parts of the world. Carpenter ants rule!
Fact 2: Some carpenter ants are 1 inch long!
That’s pretty big and scary looking for an ant! Not all carpenter ants are giants though and they vary in size from 1/4 to 1 inch (0.6 cm to 2.5 cm).
Fact 3: Some species of Carpenter Ant can EXPLODE!
Several species of carpenter ants in Southeast Asia have mandibular glands that are many times larger than those of regular ants. These huge glands produce a sticky toxic glue. When threatened, the ant explodes, spraying the toxic glue on the nearby threats. They are the ant equivalent of suicide bombers!
Fact 4: Carpenter ants do not eat wood
It is sometimes mistaken that carpenter ants eat wood. They don’t. That would termites and the two should not be confused. While both cause damage to wood, termites are far more destructive as they ravenously eat their way through everything in their path. Carpenter ants have no such appetite. They eat protein and sugar like most ants. Their only interest in wood is to live in it. The damage they cause to wood is from their carpentry! We consider their handiwork destruction but to carpenter ants it is construction!
Fact 5: Carpenter ants are also farmers
Carpenter ants are not just into the construction industry, they are also famers! Besides foraging for food outdoors or scavenging from your house, they also keep “livestock” for “milk”. Carpenter ants love the sweet honeydew secreted by aphids. Aphids live on plants and the colony will go out to procure them. They then protect and tend them within the ant colony in dedicated chambers in order to “milk” them for honeydew. When an aphid is no longer productive, it becomes steak for the ants. How would you like your aphid Mr Carpenter? Rare please!
Fact 6: There can be only ONE!
There is only one queen ant per colony and she reigns supreme! Her royal highness is key to the colony’s survival as the queen is the only ant in the whole colony who can reproduce. Talk about having all your eggs in one basket! Whenever another queen is born, she will fly away to start a new colony somewhere far, far away…not with donkey. There is no politicking, infighting, power struggle or coup unlike some other creatures!
Do you have any other interesting carpenter ant facts? Do share them in the comments.