Ants-Nature's Secret Power

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I. Name of program and producer
Documentary Title: Ants: Nature’s Secret Power
Producer: Walter Kohler
Co-Production of ADI MAYER FILM and ORF
II. Viewed on http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/ants-natures-secret-power/

III. Notes
Ants are powerful predators:
Ants may live in colonies of up to 100 thousand and like a human city they need constant supply of food. •They kill large insects and carry them back to base.
In one year a single colony consumes over 10 million insects. •They consume more meat than lions, tigers, and wolves combined. •
Strong survival instincts:
Life of individual ant is not important but the survival of the colony is critical. •As a colony, ants protect themselves effectively even against large predators like bears. •They first protect their larvae and pupae, the future of the colony. •They squirt acid on any predator that attacks their colony. •Shows bear being driven off from ant colony and attacking bees nest. Bees drive off bear but their exposed nest is taken over by the ants. The bee meat is given to the ant larvae. Adult ants have different diet.

Symbiotic relationships:
Ants and aphids have symbiotic relationship. Aphids provide honey dew to ants and ants protect the aphids. •Mealy bugs provide ants with honey dew. In return, ants carry the mealy bugs to food sources or plants that have plenty of sap. •Ants also have mutually beneficial relationship with carnivorous plants in Indonesia. Small ants live on carnivorous plants in Indonesia and eat insects trapped by the plant. The ants protect the plant from herbivores.

Characteristics:
Ants can support 100 times their own weight, consume vast amounts of food, and run huge distances. •They cooperate and become like a superpower
Ants have a liquid that allows them to grip smooth surfaces. E.g. weaver ants need the strong grip to construct their colonies. •Evolution of Australian bulldog ants – they evolved from wasps more than 100 million years ago. They have retained the sting of their wasp ancestors.

Sociology
No ant species lives in isolation. Only 3% of animal species have evolved to live in societies. Ant and Homo sapiens are among these 3%. •Larger ants defend the colony and forage for food. Smaller ants stay in the nest to tend the garden and the brood. •Ant societies have division of labor, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems •Colony may have only one queen, or there may be many queens depending on the species •Only the queen lays fertile eggs.

Examples:
Grass cutter ants – most complex. They live in huge underground cities. They are so efficient in foraging that they compete with the cattle in the Argentinean pampas. Cutters cut grass leaves into appropriate sizes, transport ants carry cut grass to the colony. They transport nearly ½ ton grass a year over 300 meters using relay transporters. When attacked, first priority is to protect the larvae and pupae, the future of the colony. •Rattan ants - when attacked, they shield larvae/pupae from the sun and others move them to the shade. Then scout ants look for new site for colony, spreading broken line of scent or chemical trail that the rest of the ants can follow. Once site is selected by ‘chemical democracy, the rest follow the scent to new nest site. No leader giving orders – simply division of labor. Winged reproductive ants want to instinctively fly but other ants keep them anchored. She controls the sex of her offspring – fertilized eggs become female; unfertilized eggs become male. Males have short life, but sperm is preserved in queen’s sperm pocket for 10-20 years.

Communication:
When foraging, ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been, •Chemical communication is one of the most important keys of ants’ success. •Queen also uses chemical scent to advertise her fertility. Leaf cutter males and females – females or virgin queens are bigger...
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