Why The World Hates Fire Ants

I feel most people either find ants gross
or even fear them, while others don’t even notice them, and some even hate them, especially
fire ants! But let me tell you, as ant keeper of many
years now, every single day, I am reminded of how epic and mind-blowing ants really are,
and most especially fire ants. So today I wanted to take you on a journey,
for a more intimate and deeper look into my tiny city of fire ants, whom you guys have
voted to be called The Fire Nation, and show you just how miraculous ant life truly is,
by using fire ants, perhaps the most hated ants of all as our subjects. We’ll even get to meet the most important
member of the ant colony who has been there since the genesis of this now massive ant
colony – the queen. You won’t want to miss this incredible ant
tour so keep on watching until the end. AC Family, let’s gather round my ant room
for another epic session of ant watching, and see what the world doesn’t know about
the secret lives of these creatures called fire ants, why they are hated globally, and
what it is truly like to live as an ant within the colony, along with our royal highness,
in this info-packed episode of the AntsCanada Ant Channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel, and hit the
bell icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Get ready to be mind-blown! Who needs nature shows. Just watch this channel. Enjoy! People ask me why I am so crazy about ants. After all, they’re pests, especially these
fire ants, which most of the world loathes. Well, I see things a little differently. First of all, not all ants are household pests,
but for this video, let’s focus in on fire ants. I get why people hate them. They appear in huge numbers, eat our food,
leave us with painful stings, cause short circuits in our equipment, and during floods,
they even survive by forming massive rafts to float on water. Not even water, can kill fire ants! These fire ants that you see here, like most
fire ants are a very invasive species, and many countries including the US and quite
recently countries like Japan have put such fire ants on their “biohazard list of pest
species to quarantine”. The Fire Nation here is a species known in
the scientific world as Solenopsis geminata, and let me tell you, it is super famous, or
should I say infamous, because it has successfully invaded pretty much all of the world’s tropical
and subtropical countries. It’s hard to find a tropical place in the
world that hasn’t been conquered by these ladies. In the USA, these girls, as well as the more
prolific species, their cousins Solenopsis invicta have invaded and become the source
of many problems in human populated areas. Now when I say “invaded” it means these ants
somehow were introduced to a given area and spread like wildfire (no pun intended) colonizing
and establishing themselves in that place. Now the reason why this process of invading
can be a bad thing for an area, is because like most animal and plant invaders, what
happens is the invading species becomes a competitor to native species and can displace
them, destroy them, and/or even overconsume resources like food. Essentially, when you have an invasive species
of any animal or plant move into a new place, it affects the entire ecosystem of that area. In the case of the Philippines, where I live,
where the queen of this colony was collected, these fire ants invaded many years ago and
today mostly occupy cities, and luckily have not wiped out the native ants which now generally
tend to stay outside of the cities, at least for now. Locals here are used to seeing fire ants in
homes and know to stay clear of them because they sting. But in places like the US, fire ants have
become a major agricultural pest, killing native ants and contibuting to the destruction
of important crops due to their tendancy to tend plant-destroying aphids as a food source,
aside from their nuissance as stinging house pests. But what makes fire ants such destructive
forces of nature throughout the world? To better understand fire ants, you have to
look at where they came from. The dangerous fire ant species the world hates,
originated from South America. Let’s go there! It’s amazing to think that the jungles of
South America helped create through evolution these highly adaptive, prolific, and destructive
ant machines known as Fire Ants! The terrain there is very diverse and hostile,
a habitat full of predators, extreme climate, lots and lots of rain, and just full of many
other ants, insects, and creatures competing for the same resources. In the jungles of South America, survival
of the fittest certainly applies! So it’s no wonder that evolution and natural
selection helped give rise to the ever impactiful fire ant. No wonder they produce so quickly, in such
huge numbers, have the power to destroy ecosystems, deliver such painful stings, and even are
capable of floating on water during floods. Their native place of origin made them that
way! In fact, a lot of the world’s problematic
and invasive species of ant originated in South America, like argentine ants and rasberry
crazy ants. But the next question is, how then did they
get around and migrate to other parts of the world? Did they develop airlines, too? Well, believe it or not. That’s not too far from the truth. We humans flew them, sailed them, drove them,
and cargoed them around the world. The export of plants from South America in
the plant trade, as well as any cargo for that matter, including produce, all contributed
to the worldwide spread of Fire Ants. They actually migrated to other parts of the
world via trojan horses and are still doing it to this day. There really is no way of stopping them. Governments now try inspection and some even
spraying of all items entering a country. During a recent trip to Borneo, I was surprised
to learn Malaysian government requires all planes to be sprayed with pesticide prior
to landing, and they asked all of us to simply cover our noses while flight staff fumigated
the entire cabin. But even then, after all the precautions,
all it takes is one single pregnant queen ant hiding somewhere to start an entire massive
and growing ant colony in a new place. And speaking of a single pregnant queen ant,
back to my ant room. Let’s meet our Royal Highness, shall we? Here lies the entrance of what you guys have
called the Blaze Maze, a recently installed AC Hybrid Nest 2.0, our newest flagship formicarium
available at AntsCanada.com, and the Fire Nation here has made it their new lair. Opening it up, right at the heart of the Blaze
Maze is a mass grouping of worker ants, and if you look closely you will see deep inside
the mass of worker ants is the queen. She is bigger, and wow check out her completely
bloated gaster, just full of eggs. The technical term for this condition of gaster
bloating due to eggs is “physogastrism”. Now in a previous video, we mentioned that
this queen lays many eggs every few minutes, and one of you guys wrote to me asking how
this was possible seeing as, if she was constantly laying eggs every couple of minutes, that
would be some pretty fast egg development inside her. Well, what I failed to mention in that video
was that she isn’t always laying eggs. In many species of ants, the queen has egg-laying
seasons, periods where she will be popping eggs out like crazy, as seen here. This queen of ours is in her egg-laying period. But there are also times when she is not laying
eggs, and is simply producing more eggs within her. It seems in our video from a few weeks ago,
you guys spotted the queen dashing away from our camera, but if you look closely at her,
her gaster was not as physogastric, not as large as it is now. So at that time, our queen was in her egg-laying
break period. She also didn’t have as many ants completely
clamouring all around her at that time like we see here. For those of you who keep ants in North America,
Europe, Australia, and other temperate regions, you will also notice these egg-laying breaks
througout the year and throughout all of winter time. Now, AC Family, are you ready to be mind-blown? What is truly miraculous is how these fertilized
eggs are created inside the queen, and to learn about that, let’s go back to two years
ago when this queen was still a virgin. So at some point in our queen’s life, she
belonged to another nest of another mature colony somewhere here in the Philippines. She was born with wings, from another founding
queen of her birth colony. Now during mating season prior to rainy season,
she emerged from her birth nest, took off into the air along with all her fellow queen
sisters, and so too did her winged brothers. So get this, in this massive one month a year
event, called the “Nuptial Flight” all fire ant colonies’ virgin queens and males of her
species throughout all of the Philippines took to the air at the same time, and engaged
in a huge mating session. Can you believe it? Every year, completely by instinct, biological
clock, and cues from weather, the fire ants throughout the country release a specific
pheromone which floats through the air to signal all fire ant reproductives to fly in
this Nuptial Flight month, a yearly ritual that has remained unchanged for millions and
millions of years, and this is how it happens for almost every ant species in the world. Every species has their given Nuptial Flight
season in the year, and the ants fly and mate in the same way. So our queen, after having mated with several
male ants, who by the way, die after mating, dropped to the ground and broke off her wings. Can you imagine that after using her flight
equipment, she no longer needs it so it is completely discarded. Talk about body mutilation! Then she proceeded to start her own colony
somewhere else, and as she was wandering around, she was captured and cared for, and eventually
ended up in my ant room to start her own growing ant colony, which became what you guys now
know as the Fire Nation. It’s amazing to think that this massive ant
colony started with just this single queen ant? And what’s even more amazing? Just that one day of mating was enough to
allow her to produce fertilized eggs for her entire life which could span multiple decades! Yes, she has a special organ in her body called
a spermatheca which keeps all that sperm collected during Nuptial Flight viable, and she releases
each sperm cell to fertilize one egg inside her for years and years to come. Talk about the perfect ant-manufacturing machine! It just blows my mind how amazing this queen
ant is. By the way, guys, now that the Hybrid Nest
allows us to actually see her and check up on her periodically, should we give this queen
a name? AC Family, leave your name suggestions for
our Royal Highness in the comments section and I will choose my favourites for the entire
AC Family to vote on in a future video. So once an egg is laid, one of these worker
ants grabs it and proceeds to place it in an egg pile somewhere in the nest. All these eggs will be workers, except prior
to Nuptial Flight season where some of the eggs become alates, i.e. reproductive queens
and males. When the eggs hatch, the larvae are transported
to a larva room, a sort of nursery where they are fed and constantly licked clean by the
workers. The workers who are all their sisters feed
the larvae via trophallaxis, a process where they essentially regurgitate stored food within
their crop, or social stomach. Food which was put deposited there from either
a previous meal, or via trophallaxis from a fellow sister worker ant. Tropallaxis is a great way for ants to distribute
food to one another so that only a few ants ever have to leave the nest to physically
find and eat the food in its raw form. Everyone else just stays home and waits for
the food to be delivered. Eventually these larvae grow and become pupae
and are then placed into a pupae incubation chamber where they are allowed to develop
into adult ants. By the way, these chambers for eggs, larvae,
and pupae, are always changing in location depending on ideal environmental conditions
for each stage. Usually the most humid rooms are delegated
for eggs and larvae, while the warmest rooms are for pupae. Some species of ants will even bring their
pupae to the upper most portions of their ant hills in order to “bake” the pupae under
the sun’s heat to speed up development of the pupae into adult worker ants. The faster ants can get the young to adulthood,
the better because a larger work force means greater survival rate for the ant colony. And that AC Family, is the miracle of ant
life. Can you see why ant lovers like myself are
crazy about ants? They are just mind-blowing creatures designed
to survive and proliferate efficiently in their extensive undeground cities. Though most of the world might dislike ants,
they still are pretty amazing creatures, essential to the environment and important for our survival. They are vital predators, decomposers, pollinators,
seed-distributers, and prey items in ecosystems around the world. And now the next time you see an ant, you
know where it came from and what it took for it to get there. Thanks for watching another episode of the
AntsCanada ant channel. This is AntsCanada signing out. It’s ant love forever. Alright, AC Family, aren’t ants the coolest
creatures? Now that you know how cool they are, I hope
all of you guys get the unique opportunity to keep ants yourselves and observe them in
the comfort of your own home as pets. The ant farm set up you see in this video
is available at AntsCanada.com. I will leave a link in the description box
to a complete easy-to-use kit called the All You Need Hybrid Nest Gear Pack for you to
check out if you would like to try ant keeping, and just a note: we do ship worldwide, as
well as offer starting ant colonies with a queen for sale from ant keepers who may be
from your city through our GAN Project, an initiative to helps lessen the spread of invasive
ants while helping the ant keeping community grow, so watch more about that in this video
here. Promise, you will find ant keeping to be super
fun and educational, and for all you parents out there, it’s an awesome way to bond with
your kids while learning about nature. It would be super cool to keep ants together
with you, guys. AC Inner Colony, of course, I have also left
a hidden cookie for you here, if you would just like to watch some extended play footage
of the Fire Nation living in their setup. And now it’s time for the AC Question of the
Week! Last week, we asked: The fact that the fire ants chose
to keep mostly larvae in the new Hybrid Nest indicates what? Congratulations to Emerald Lion 1717 who correctly
answered: The fire ants chose to keep mostly
larvae in the new Hybrid nest because it has more humidity. Congratulations Emerald Lion 1717 you just
won a free AC Test Tube Portal from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week, we
ask: What is the technical term for
the condition of a queen ant’s gaster that is swollen with eggs? Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could win a free ebook handbook our shop! Hope you can subscribe to the channel as we
upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE
if you enjoyed this video to help us keep making more. It’s ant love forever!

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