Credos to Ants – The Insect World

Book Passage: 

 

Liam shook his head real serious at the memory, “That was a terrifying morning, I tell you. I lost 14 of my pet ants at home, right before I brought them in to show everyone! And all because my little sister, Remy, dumped them out to say goodbye! Who dumps ants out? In your bedroom?” he cried. “Seriously?” he looked around at everyone. “Does anyone else do that or is it just my little sister?”

From Jada Mei Mathews’ Plan: Perfect
By Kim Gillingham

Admiring Ants

Classification – scientists use ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ questions in order to divide animals into different groups. You probably know many already:

Mammals, Reptiles, Fish, Birds and Amphibians. 

Did you know that approximately 80 percent of the world  is made up of insects? Most reports say there are over 900 000 different types. That is a lot and yet many tend to know very little about them. In fact, most people are not big fans of this group of living creatures. 

I wonder…why do insects get such a bad rap? 

Look at the worksheet ‘Classifying Invertebrates’. Invertebrates are the large group of living things that do not have a backbone or skeleton inside. Insects are one of these groups.  ‘Answers here’

For fun creative ideas to help children learn the differences between the body features of insects and arachnids check out ‘Creature Crafts.’

Admire Ants

Ants can often be misunderstood; they are tiny and cover your food at a picnic after all but these tiny little creatures can pack a powerful punch. In fact, many Entomologists (scientists that study insects) and ecologists (scientists that study the living things and their environment) believe that we couldn’t live without them. 

Firstly, ants eat the eggs and babies (larvae) of other troublesome pests like bed bugs, fleas and cockroaches. Get rid of all of the household ants and your house could have more of these creatures than you’d care to have. Farmers also use ants at times to help keep other insects away from their crops. 

They also are low on the food chain and help to support animals you may not want to see go hungry. 

Here are some food chains to consider. Remember the arrow shows the energy transferred from one living thing to another. To keep it straight we often think of the arrow as showing ‘eaten by.’ 

Grass Ants Aardvark Hyena   Lion

Cactus Lizards   Desert Fox

Mango tree Leaf Cutter Ant Cacomistle Jaguar

If there were no ants what other animals could be in danger?

Also, ants have the tendency to carry seeds to different places which helps the seed to grow in richer and more nutrient filled soil. 

Also, due to their small size ants have some incredible protective moves. 

There are approximately 12 000 different types of ants and like most living things they have amazing ways to protect themselves. 

  • The Fire ants move fast and have quite the sting.
  • The Bullet ant has a painful bite but is only found in the Amazon jungles
  • The Trap Jaw Ant can close its mouth faster than any living thing.

Some ants can’t hear or see. Instead, many send out chemicals from their body to communicate with other ants. 

FUN ACTIVITIES

Ants leave a scent trail – how good our you at detecting scent?

Hide different smells around the classroom or home to see how easy or difficult it is to find. 

SCIENCE OF LENSES

Some ants have super vision because they have loads of lenses in their eyes.  How do different lenses affect how we see? Check out the video on lenses. What’s happening?

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FUN ACTIVITY

Others have antennas that they use to help ‘talk’ to each other by touching. I wonder how hard or easy that would be?

Close your eyes and place your hands on your friend’s face. Can you tell what they are saying? Can you write on their hand with your finger to communicate?

FUN MEASURING

Some ants can lift between 20 and 50 times their body weight? How much could you lift? Weigh yourself on the scale. What else is the same weight as you? Fill a suitcase, pillow case or strong bag with objects and keep weighing it. How many ‘yous’ do you think you could lift now? 

FUN ACTIVITY

Ants live in huge groups called colonies. The Queen is the leader. It’s her responsibility to have all those ant babies. The males help to make the babies and the worker ants are the females that build the homes and collect the food. The homes are incredibly sophisticated and have areas to store food and nurseries to look after the babies. 

Make clear or yellow jelly and let it set. Then make a coloured jelly like red. Can you use a syringe to squirt the red inside of the clear jelly? What do the tunnels look like?

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The smallest ant is 8 mm and the largest is 40 mm. What would that look like? Draw them out to compare. 

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Drop Thoughts – discussions

Are all living things important? Are there any animals that you think we could just do without?

What makes an animal important? 

Are we important? If humans are at the top of the food chain, what would happen on earth if we no longer existed? 

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