Army Ants

Army ants (Ecitoninae spp.) are carnivorous, nomadic and aggressive. They attack freely, eat without discrimination, migrate to locate food sources and maintain a complex social hierarchy. They are found primarily in the southern United States, Central America, South America, Africa and parts of Asia.

Like other ant species, the bodies of army ants consist of a head, abdomen and thorax. The thoraxes of army ants are located between the head and abdomen and are connected to the abdomen by joints known as nodes. Their abdomens are oval-shaped, and the stomach, stinger and large intestine are located within it. The head of the army ant has eyes, mouth and antennae. Their mouths consist of two jaws, or mandibles, which resemble scissors. However, adult army ants are unable to eat solid items and ingest only liquids. They use their antennae to smell, touch and communicate.

Colonies of army ants consist of a queen, workers and soldiers. A single colony can contain up to 24 million individual ants. Unlike other ant species, army ants are known to be nomadic, making temporary nests while traveling from one location to the next. Their nests are composed of the ants themselves: army ants form the walls of the nest by fastening their claws and mandibles to one another.

Workers are infertile females and are unable to establish their own colonies. Instead, they forage for food, bringing prey into their nests. Smaller army ant workers also tend to the queen’s eggs, and soldier ants defend the army ant nest.