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  • Chris Vera Zelada

Always Working, Ant Architecture

By Chris Vera Zelada

Image credit Katja Schulz, Wikimedia Commons

Special to the Enterprise


Ants put massive amounts of work into their homes, one of them being ant hills. Ants can have many different habitats such as inside a tree or your house walls. Only a few species of ants build ant hills such as the Formica ants, Yellow Stone Meadow ants, Fire ants and Harvester ants which are only some. If you’re wondering what an ant hill looks like from the outside, it looks like a pile of dirt with a crater that has a hole in the middle. The sizes of these hills can vary depending on the species, but they can be meters high.

The inside of the ant hill has a very complex structure consisting of a system of tunnels that connect with one another in un-uniform ways. The ends of these tunnels contain chambers which can be a large compartment within the tunnel. These chambers each have their own purpose as well. To name a few these chambers can be used to nurse their larvae, store food, as well as a rest area for the working ants.

The purpose of these ant hills is to keep their queen and eggs safe. During the way ants move their eggs towards the surface of the ant hill to assist with keeping the eggs warm, however later in the night they move them back down deeper into the anthill. The way these ant hills are made may seem simple but takes a lot of teamwork for ants. Worker ants excavate and carry whatever piece of dirt or rock back to the surface, forming the hills. It can take ants weeks to even years to finish making their ant hills depending on the size that they wish to complete.

Ants build their ant hills in specific places that allow them to protect themselves from predators. Some of these places can be under a rock, by the bark of a tree or logs. This allows them to create a very strong foundation for their ant hills that of course protects them from predators, but it also helps protect them from forces that come naturally. The longevity of the ant hill depends on the location of where it was made as well as how well the structure may be.

Ant hills may seem like just a pile of dirt but don’t let that fool you with the extremely complex tunnel system that is beneath it. Next time you see a big pile of dirt look more closely as an entire community of ants may be living beneath your feet.


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