Ants are special creatures. They learn, remember, and correct mistakes. They communicate, live in complex societies,  and even teach eachother new skills. Sound like anyone you know? No wonder we humans throughout history have studied and compared ourselves to these tiny little insects.

We will re-visit this subject time and again. Our webspace would be nameless were it not for the ant, afterall. For now, let’s think about the ant-hill, and why on Earth a tiny little rather adorable one has found its way to the top of this page.

What is an ant-hill? An ant-hill is a pile of dirt and sand and pine needles. Of course, as usual, there’s much more going on than meets the eye. Let’s take a peak beneath the surface and see.

A plaster cast reveals the quarters of a typical Florida harvester ant colony. Neat, huh?
A plaster-cast reveals the innards of a typical Florida harvester ant colony. Neat.

An ant-hill is more than just a pile of dirt. It’s an underground mansion with big rooms and little rooms, long winding hallways and steep sets of stairs. It’s brilliant insect-architecture resulting from tireless work, careful planning, cooperation, and communication. The tiny little ant-hill we see at the surface is simply the dirt that worker ants carry to the surface in their mandibles and “spit out”.

The mandibles make the mound: little limbs near the ants mouth allow it to carry dirt to the surface, creating the ant-hill.

The mandibles make the mound: little limbs near the ant's mouth allow it to carry dirt to the surface, creating the ant-hill.

Would you believe the six-foot tall plaster-cast pictured above is mere chump change?! In some colonies, worker ants are not aggressive towards ants of other nearby nests and they mix and cooperate.  We’re not talking tiny little ant-hills anymore. When you’re this big, you’re a super colony. One of the largest super colonies discovered to-date is located under Melbourne in Australia and spans approximately 100 km! Whoa.

But that’s a different topic for a different day. We aren’t a huge and mighty super colony. Just a tiny little ant-hill. Keep on reading, and watch us grow!

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