Would a picnic really be a picnic without a few uninvited guests? You know who we’re talking about. Ants! How do they always know when you’re going to have a picnic?

If you asked ants, they’d probably tell you that they don’t crash picnics uninvited. They would argue that it’s you who decides to have a picnic on their turf!

It’s really not your fault, though, since it would be very hard to find a picnic spot without ants nearby. Why? Because they’re everywhere!

Scientists believe ants have been around for more than 110 million years. In that time, they’ve managed to colonize just about every part of the Earth except for Antarctica.

Ants are social insects that live in large groups called “colonies.” It’s not uncommon for a single colony to have millions of ants!

Ants find ways to thrive in most environments. Their social organization is one of the reasons. Ant colonies show evidence of division of labor (different ants do different jobs), communication between individuals and an almost-human ability to solve complex problems.

Large colonies contain mostly female ants, who labor as workers, soldiers or other specialized groups. The remaining ants are either female “queens” or males called “drones.”

Ants can feed on a wide variety of food sources. They eat plants, other insects and occasionally steal food from other insects. They also seem to like sweets, which is why they’re more than happy to invade a picnic should one show up in their area!

Interesting ant facts:

  • More than 12,000 different species of ants have been identified around the world.
  • Ants can lift up to 20 times their own body weight. If you were as strong as an ant, you might be able to lift a car!
  • Queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies.
  • Ants don’t have ears. They “hear” with their feet by feeling vibrations from the ground.
  • Ants take in oxygen through tiny holes all over their bodies. They don’t have lungs like mammals.


30 Join the Discussion

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  1. I liked how you made a list of ant facts at the end of the article. I didn’t know that most of the worker ants were female. I also wonder how long it will take for ants to figure out a way to settle in Ant-arnica, too. ;)

    If humans would be able to lift a car anytime they want then it might be harder to find something like that to go into the world record book.

    • You’re right about that, Grace! If everyone could lift a car anytime they wanted, it wouldn’t be much of a record! We think it would be a lot easier to find a parking space, though! Thanks for your awesome comment today! :-)

  2. I agree with Grace the list really helped me learn some new facts! What a great wonder question and I wonder why all the ants always find my picnic!!! We’ve had some wonderful days for picnics!

    • Ants ARE really great at inviting themselves to the party! Thanks for your comment today, Maria! Have a WONDERful day! :-)

  3. i know why ants are invited to picnic well first they invite themselves and second is because they want your food

    • They sure do, Lauren! Have you had any ant visitors to any of your picnics? We have very hungry ants in Wonderopolis! :-)

    • Sorry you’ve had a few pesky visitors at some of your picnics, Lauren! They’re really neat to watch in their long, single-file lines as the “work” to carry off food, though. Wouldn’t you agree? :-)

    • Thank you for letting us know what you liked best about exploring this Wonder of the Day®, Rachel! We appreciate when our Wonder Friends do that! :-)

  4. My mom usually stops by Tim Hortons to buy some doughnuts for Friday morning. If we leave them unguarded ants get all over them and ruin our breakfast! We started putting them in the fridge. Why are some little and some… GIANT?

    • Hi there, Ellie, we think ants must have a sweet tooth! We bet they love those donuts just as much as your family! Just like other animals, ants come in all shapes and sizes. Certain types of ants are larger and strong, where others are smaller and good at gathering for the colony. We’re proud of your great Wonders! :)

  5. We liked your information about ants living for a long time. We didn’t know that ants don’t live in Antarctica, they should because Antarctica has an ANT in it! ha ha ha

    From all the kids in 1C at Macquarie Primary

    • He he, thanks for making us smile, Wonder Friends in 1C! We like your connection between ANTarctica and ANTs! We sure are glad you’re using your WONDERful imaginations with us today… have a SUPER day! :)

    • You have so many SUPER Wonders, 2G, we are very proud of you! We Wonder if you can do some research of your own about the anatomy of ants! We know that the size of their tiny bodies actually helps them to be strong insects– it has a lot to do with physics!

      We are very excited to see what you find with your WONDERful imaginations and research! Thanks for sharing your comment today! :)

  6. How many eggs does a Queen lay in one day?
    Why does the Queen lay so many eggs?
    How do ants climb without falling?

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends in 2L Macquarie Primary! We are so excited that you are sharing all your ant-related Wonders with us today! WOHOO! Queen ants act as the mothers of all ants in the colony. Because some Queen ants do not require a male ant in order to have baby ants, they can produce many, many baby ants over the course of their lifetime. They also live the longest of all ants, and many other insects, up to 28 years! :)

      We bet you can find some more information about Queen ants and how ants become such excellent climbers… we hope you keep us the SUPER WONDERing! :)

    • They sure do, Allie! We think they can be pests, especially during the summer months. Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do ants think they’re invited to picnics?
  • Can you find ants everywhere in the world?
  • How many ants can live in a single colony?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Time for a picnic! When summer hits, it’s time to get outside into the great outdoors. Grab some friends and family members, and plan a picnic at your favorite park.

What will you need? Even if your local park has picnic tables, there’s nothing better than enjoying a sandwich while sitting on a blanket on the ground. So make sure you grab enough blankets for everyone.

Speaking of sandwiches, you’re going to need food, too. What’s your favorite sandwich? Bologna? Ham? Peanut Butter and jelly? Octopus?

Whatever it is, make several and pack them in a basket with some of your favorite chips. If you want to make some fun treats, try these kid-approved favorites:

Don’t forget drinks! What’s good on a hot summer day? Lemonade? Iced tea? Of course, water is always a good choice, too.

Finish filling up your picnic basket with napkins, forks, spoons and any other items you might need to make your picnic extra-special.

Remember: When you’re finished, make sure you pick up all your trash and leave your park in better shape than when you got there.

If you have time after your picnic, hang around and play some games. Throw a football, kick a soccer ball or throw a Frisbee. Enjoy your time with friends and family in the great outdoors! And don’t forget to watch out for the ants!


Still Wondering

Want to learn more about ants? Use ReadWriteThink’s Animal Inquiry student interactive to guide your research!


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