Scientific Name: Camponotus compressus
Tamil Name: Katta Erumbu
Distribution and status: Ants are found on all continents except Antarctica, and only a few large islands, such as Greenland, Iceland, parts of Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands lack native ant species. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node like structure that forms their slender waists.
Habitat: Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organized colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals.
Habits: Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of “workers”, “soldiers”, or other specialized groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” and one or more fertile females called “queens“. The colonies are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony. Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensal, parasitic, and mutuality relationships.
Food: Ants occupy a wide range of ecological niches, and are able to exploit a wide range of food resources either as direct or indirect herbivores, predators, and scavengers. Most species are omnivorous generalists, but a few are specialist feeder
Life cycle: A queen ant is an adult, reproducing female ant in an ant colony; generally she will be the mother of all the other ants in that colony. Some female ants do not need to mate to produce offspring, reproducing through asexual parthenogenesis or cloning, and all of those offspring will be female. Ants go through four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa (sometimes cocoon, called metamorphosis depending on the species) and adult. When resources are low, all larvae will develop into female worker ants. When conditions are hot and humid after rain and wind is minimal, masses of winged sexually reproducing ants or “flying ants” will leave their parent nest and take flight.
Role in the environment: Ants impact in their local environment has revealed they play an important role. They have a dual effect on their local ecosystem which affects both the density and diversity of other species around them, including animals much higher up the food chain.
Photo source: http://www.treknature.com/gallery/Asia/Pakistan/photo285523.htm