DEC 29, 2019 8:55 AM PST

Anthills Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

At first glance, an anthill looks like a small pile of sand on the Earth with a tiny hole in the top that ants crawl into to evade danger, but they’re actually a lot more complicated than that. Rather, the anthill itself is quite literally just the tip of the iceberg.

If you were to dissect an anthill, you’d find that the tunnels reach up to two meters beneath the Earth’s surface, and that’s because ants use the anthill as an entrance to a highly advanced colony filled with a plethora of chambers where the ants can rest, eat, and feed their babies. The colony even contains special tunnels where scout ants can travel to other parts of an environment without ever breaching the surface.

As you might come to expect, the little hole at the top of an anthill is somewhat easy for invaders to penetrate. Beetles, silverfish, and spiders, along with other types of creepy crawlies, often invade the anthills in search of food. Most of the time, these critters devour the ant eggs before they hatch. Some invaders, however, are completely harmless to the ants.

Anthills are particularly vulnerable to floods, which can submerge an entire underground ant colony. When this happens, the ants either drown or escape to the surface to leave and build an entirely new colony. Despite how significant of a task this might seem to be, it only takes an ant colony a few days to rebuild an entire multi-meter underground tunnel system.

Related: Watch these brave scout ants engage a termite colony

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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