Obviously we’re going to talk about Ant Man now, you knew it was coming, so here it goes. The science behind his powers have already been discussed pretty thoroughly throughout the web (the article from Wired Magazine is personally my favorite if you’re interested). So, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about all the awesome facts about ants while they’re still sufficiently popular in Hollywood.
1. Ants are found on every continent except for Antarctica.
2. They contribute 15-20% of the total terrestrial animal biomass (this is much more than all vertebrates combined).
3. There are 12,000 known species of ant, AntBase (http://antbase.org/) is a server where researchers can add more species as they are found and users can find details on any of these species.
4. If an egg is fertilized by a queen bee it becomes a diploid female, if it is not fertilized it becomes a haploid male. Diploid means that the ant has two complete sets of chromosomes, haploid means the ant only has one set of chromosomes.
5. Queens and workers are both females, whether an ant is a queen or a worker is determined by how much nutrition the individuals get as larvae.
6. Queens are not the only winged ants, male ants called ‘drones’ also have wings. In fact, queens only have wings before reproduction, they are wingless most of their lives.
7. Workers begin their lives taking care of the queen and the young, then they graduate to digging and nest work, and finally the oldest worker ants are responsible for defense and foraging. The older ants are responsible for the most dangerous job because they are more likely to die of natural causes anyway
8. Queen ants can live up to 30 years.
9. Some species have female ants that can produce asexually through thelytoky (they make clones of themselves!)
10. Some species of male ants create a copulation plug during mating with queen ants to prevent the queen from mating with other males.
11. Some ant nests have more than one queen, some have no queen!
12. When a drone wishes to mate with a queen he releases pheromones when entering the nest and worker ants physically carry him to the queen.
13. Ants are univoltine (they only reproduce one generation every year).
14. Virgin queen ants (with wings) participate in a nuptial flight where they mate with drones during flight, they then lose their wings, find a nice place for a nest, and live happily ever after.
15. The choice of which eggs are fertilized or not fertilized is not random, the female ant seems to actually choose which eggs to fertilize as the ratios are almost always constant.