MadSci Network: Environment/Ecology

Re: What good are ants? or What are ants good for?

Date: Mon Apr 20 09:18:18 1998
Posted By: Tim Susman, Staff Zoology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
Area of science: Environment/Ecology
ID: 892296560.En

Asking what an animal is "good for" is usually just a way of saying "what good is it to humans?" But not all animals have to be good for humans. All of them play an important role in nature.

Ants do have some benefits for humans and the rest of nature. They are scavengers, cleaning up dead plants and animals. You'll often see ants swarming around dead insects or even carrying them back to the anthill. Ants also provide food for birds, other insects, and mammals. Some large animals live entirely on ants and other insects, and even chimpanzees sometimes eat ants!

Ants are also studied by scientists because they work together so well. Ants and bees are very interesting because of this cooperation. We still don't understand all the things that make them work together, but they are capable of some amazing feats.

I hope this helps you understand how ants are an important part of our world.

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