You never want to get too close to a mound of fire ants. But from the comfortable distance of your browser, they’re neat little buggers. Vox explores some of the fascinating ways in which colonies stick together to form structures, and how they can act as both a solid or fluid.
With the help of footage from researchers, ZeFrank provides his lighthearted insights on the Odontomachus, a genus of ants with jaws that can open 180-degrees, then shut like a bear trap. In addition to grabbing prey, they can use their mandibles to eject unwanted intruders or extract themselves quickly from a threat.
ZeFrank takes a few minutes to explain the fascinating habits of Eciton army ants, from the massive community structures they build using their bodies, to their coordinated swarms, to their killer instincts and protein-rich dietary habits. You’ll also meet some unique insects that like to hitch rides on the ants.
Chip Channel spends most of his time restoring rusty old toys. He also has an ant farm. Watch as these industrious little harvester ants start out with a clean slate of sand, and proceed to build out a complex maze of tunnels for their colony to call home. Everything you see here happened in 24 hours.
Kurzgesagt introduces us to the oecophylla weaver ant. These long-legged insects dwell in tropical jungles, building incredible colonies that spread upwards and sideways between trees. They’re not only incredibly industrious, they’re fierce warriors and defenders of their kingdoms.
It might take us just a second to chomp down a single slice of banana, but it takes quite a bit longer for ants to dine on such a treat. In this clip from Temponaut Timelapse, see how an army of ants gradually dismantles a bit of banana over the course of two days. Look away if you’re squeamish about bugs.
Kurzgesagt already taught us how ants thrive on war. But it turns out that one particular ant species has used their fighting and strategic skills (with a little help from humans) to build a truly global empire. We wouldn’t doubt if their numbers were actually in the trillions.
Think that humans fight and kill a lot? Kurzgesagt aims its magnifying glass at the tiny world of ant colonies, where billions of the bugs violently battle against other kinds of ants and insects every single day of their lives. From decapitations to cannibalism, life as an ant can be brutal.
BBC Earth show The Hunt captured crisp macro footage of hotrod ants, as they make their way through the scorching 150ºF+ Namib desert, where it’s so hot that they would die if they stopped in the sun for even a few seconds. But the extreme heat isn’t their only foe.