There are more than 10.000 known ant species on Earth. The variations are diverse and the different species have all adapted to the surrounding nature and neighbours. Let’s read up on a selection of the branches.
Lasius – Moisture Ants
The Lasius family consists of about 80 ant species. 24 of them are located in the northern or middle parts of Europe. They’re a family of small workers and males, in contrast to their large queens. The moisture ants are mostly nocturnal. Many of them are considered “friendly” due to their weak jaws and relatively low levels of agressiveness. They build their nests in the ground next to rocks or dead wood.
Formica – Wood Ants
The type species for this family of ants is the European red wood ant species – Formica rufa. The family is a large one regarding their northern habitats, with about 160 species. Their workers are large, quick and aggressive. Parts of the Formica family bulds large mounds of forest material, creating the classic ant hill. To defend themselves, they have a acid glands to spray at their enemies.
Solenopsis – Fire Ants
The Solenopsis family consists of about 200 species. They are often called Fire Ants (sometimes Red Ants, although other ant species like Myrmica rubra are also called that) and the reason behind the name is their venomous and hurting sting. Some persons may even experience allergic reactions from it. The Fire Ants often forms huge colonies with hundreds of thousands of workers, and they tend to dominate the area of which they settle. The species is spread throughout the world but has an especially strong foothold in the North and South Americas.
Camponotus – Carpenter Ants
With about 1000 species worldwide, the Carpenter family covers large portions of the Earth. There are 13 species in the Nordics, but strangely enough not one has been found to inhabit the british isles. The carpenter ant species are huge and it is not uncommon that they are their regions largest ants. The different species prefer to nest in both dead and living trees, and are often considered as pests. Apart form trees they like to dig into facades of houses.
Myrmica – Red Ants
The red ants are one of the ant species families that’s easiest to spot and recognize. They are dressed in orange, brown and red and if you look at them closely you will notice their exoskeleton has lines on it. The Myrmica family consists of about 150 species. All of them are constricted to the paleo arctic region. The species can settle in sand, dirt och tufts of grass or moss and form great colonies with many queens. They are commonly know as red ants. Their sting can actually hurt quite a bit.
The Tetramorium family consists of about 400 ant species. Only one of them present in the Nordics: Tetramorium caespitum. They are a species-rich genera and found throughout all the large landmasses. They are only absent from Canada and the southern parts of South America (and some groups of islands). This ant species is very confrontational and guard their territories with precision. They have broad shoulders and powerful jaws, and tend to feed their larvae with seeds. In capticity, Tetramorium is known to hide their food in piles of sand or dirt, as if to preserve and protect them.