How an Ant Colony Operates
Let's look at how an ant colony operates. At the founding stage of an ant colony, there really isn't a colony just yet. It all starts off with the mating process whereby the queen engages in mating and eggs are produced, thus producing offspring. But the role of the queen does not stop there. She will continue to lay eggs and produce offspring as more and more ants are produced and a "colony" is formed.
COLONIES AND THE DIVISION OF LABOUR
Think of an ant colony like a factory or a construction site. Resources are found, used, and put together to make a product. The resources are "food" and the product is "more ants." The division of labour makes this process much easier and rather than being told what job to do, the ants pick the job they want. They could be looking for food or acting like soldiers on the lookout for the enemy.
The younger ants tend to be the ones who attend to the queen and her brood while the older ants do the other jobs. The queen also lets the ants choose which jobs they want and does not boss them around. Ants also communicate with each other too, just not the way your or I do or would expect.
Instead of communicating via sounds, ants communicate primarily with chemicals or "pheromones." If an ant wants another ant to follow them towards a food source, that ant produces certain chemicals that say to the other ant "follow me, I know where there is food." Similarly, if a perceived enemy is approaching, one soldier ant might produce chemicals that say "lookout, the enemy is approaching" Ants will also sometimes communicate using vibration or touch as well.
Ants individually have tiny brains and they aren't very smart. Nor are they a force to be reckoned with when they are under attack. Collectively, however, they are much smarter! They can solve much more complex problems, they can make better decisions about where to locate their nest and they can be a formidable foe if any enemy attacks including a mammal.
Ants continue to find food, the queen continues to lay eggs and then the queen flies off to mate with other ants from other colonies and thus you have a situation where colonies just keep on reproducing and you end up with more and more ants. So while one ant doesn't look that menacing on its own, beware of an aunt colony lest you be the victim of an ant attack! And that's how an ant colony operates!
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