There are more than 12,000 known species of ants, often black, brown or red in color and generally living in colonies. Their closest relatives are bees and wasps, they have a similar body, divided into 3 parts. Inside the colonies, the ants are divided into groups, each with a specific role: workers, soldiers and queens. The workers, always females, take care of the largest queen and her offspring, they maintain the nest and search for food. The soldiers are in charge of the security of the colony, its entrances and its inhabitants. The males mate with the queens and then die.
They populated the entire planet, with the exception of Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland and some island nations. Tropical regions are home to many more ants than other regions, and forests and arid lands are home to more ants than urban areas, as The Washington Post explains.
“There are some parts of the world where we have little data and cannot come up with reliable estimates for all continents. Africa is an example. We have known for a long time that it is a continent very rich in ants but also very under-studied“, says Schultheiss.