One of the most frequent pests seen in homes and workplaces is ants. More than 10,000 kinds of ants are known to exist in the world, and entomologists and other experts are always researching them.
Ants are incredibly interesting organisms. Not convinced by us? These are some of the tasks that ants do to benefit the environment.
Table of Contents
How are Ants Useful to the Environment and Humans?
Wondering how are ants useful to the environment or how are ants useful to humans? We have got some answers to your questions.
- Helps in Aeration of The Soil
- Boost Soil Absorption
- Disperse the Seeds of Plants
- Control Pests Effectively
- Provide Protection
- Acts as Bioindicators
- Take Part in Decomposition
- Consume Organic Matter
- A Considerable Role in The Food Web
- Provide Food to Others
1. Helps in Aeration of The Soil
In terms of agriculture and crop production, ants are extraordinarily productive. Ants certainly exist beneath the surface of the planet with their three-dimensional creations. Also, they support agriculture, which benefits our environment.
Ants improve the ecosystem by allowing the soil to breathe. They aid in the formation of ground pores that facilitate the movement of oxygen, water, and nutrients throughout the earth. Perhaps you’re wondering, how? by excavating tunnels to demonstrate their architectural prowess.
Additionally, a study on the function of ants in sustainable agriculture describes how over 90% of the energy needed for harvester and leaf-cutter ants comes from plant sap. Additionally, they contribute to the preservation of the C/N ratio in their atmosphere, which promotes plant growth.
2. Boost Soil Absorption
Ants benefit the environment not only through aeration but also through better soil quality. The quantity of organic nutrients in the soil that support the healthy growth of crops and plants is referred to as soil quality.
Ants increase the fertility of the soil by bringing in outside nutrients through the food they gather for their nests.
Foraging is the process by which animals look for food. Ants employ this method to find organic materials that are decomposing and move them beneath their earthly nests.
3. Disperse the Seeds of Plants
The lipid-rich seed substance, called elaiosome, attracts ants. Additionally, they spread the elaiosome-rich seeds around the planet or more deeply scatter the seeds into the soil. Myrmecochory is the name given to this process of seeds dispersing secondarily.
On the other hand, studies have revealed that the makeup of the fatty acid-rich elaiosome influences how seeds spread. Furthermore, different ant species have different rates of dispersal.
However, the germination process benefits greatly from the kind of environmental assistance that ants provide.
Furthermore, the rate of seed germination increases as ants carry the seeds to their nests, which are located in areas of the soil with higher nitrogen concentrations.
4. Control Pests Effectively
Ants prey on a wide variety of species, including some plant diseases. By consuming the pests’ eggs and larvae, they typically benefit the plants.
Formica rufa is one of the ant species that mostly feeds on plants. They eat seeds, carrion, honeydew, fungus, resins, and carrion. And other insects make up a small portion (about 33%) of their diet.
These ants have a symbiotic interaction with the plants. In return for the ants’ provision of food, the plants shield the ants from diseases and pests.
5. Provide Protection
Ants are little but powerful animals that work in symbiosis with aphids to play a vital function in the environment. Aphids excrete a sweet fluid called honeydew, which these industrious insects have come to enjoy while consuming plant sap.
Ants consume this delicious delight, but they also go above and beyond to safeguard their valuable food supply. In an amazing demonstration of mutual aid and cooperation, ants diligently protect aphids from possible predators like ladybugs.
Although ladybugs are thought to be helpful predators that aid in managing aphid populations, ants understand how important these little sap-feeders are to their own survival. With the susceptible aphids, they develop a protective partnership to guarantee a steady supply of honeydew.
Ants guard the aphid-feeding colonies by using a variety of defensive strategies. Just their existence acts as a strong deterrent to ladybug trespassers who may try to eat these helpless treats. Some ant species can release chemicals into the environment to repel or immobilize potential intruders.
6. Acts as Bioindicators
As bioindicators, ants also benefit the ecosystem by analyzing soil and other environmental elements.
As a result of several human and natural influences, the soil is constantly deteriorating. We also need certain bioindicators in order to research and preserve this kind of environmental resource. And ants help us out with that issue.
The soil biota does not contain every type of ant. Among the three categories of soil biota, they are referred to as microfauna and are classified as either anecic or epigeic groups. Additionally, they serve as bioindicators due to their underground existence.
7. Take Part in Decomposition
Ants play a vital part in the breakdown of carcasses, which are the dead bodies of animals. In particular, Formicinae are the most prevalent and efficient decomposers. These include species of wood ants, winter ants, carpenter ants, and black ants.
Ants use their mandibles to chop or chew dead animal parts, helping the environment get rid of the decomposing corpses. We investigate this phenomenon, known as necrophagy (eating dead tissues). These kinds of actions are mainly observed in 14 different ant species.
8. Consume Organic Matter
Ants are organisms that are often disregarded and misinterpreted, but as decomposers, they are essential to the ecosystem. Ants’ ability to digest organic garbage, insects, and other dead animals is another factor in their existence. Ants help keep the environment they live in clean.
The peculiar habit of carpenter ants is to build their homes in rotten or diseased wood. By doing this, they contribute to hastening the process of timber degradation.
These hardworking insects create routes for bacteria and fungi to flourish as they burrow into decaying wood to construct their elaborate galleries and tunnels.
When carpenter ants move from their temporary homes and settle in the intricate webs they leave behind, these microbes seize the chance. Furthermore, ants are essential to maintaining a clean and devoid of dead insect corpses ecosystem.
These industrious insects serve as nature’s scavengers, persistently gathering fallen food or corpses from the area surrounding their colony. They get rid of this kind of organic material quickly before it has a chance to build up or decay significantly.
9. A Considerable Role in The Food Web
Ants have a variety of effects on an ecosystem’s food web. First, with the construction of tunnels and food transportation operations, it supplies food to the local organism.
The organic compounds in the soil serve as food for other soil-dwelling species because of the presence of ants.
In a food chain, ants also play the roles of prey and predators. They prey on small to large species in their capacity as predators. According to a study’s author, ants are extremely territorial and aggressive creatures.
Furthermore, ants have an impact on the number of arthropods both directly and indirectly, per an assessment of their function in the grassland ecosystem.
Their efforts to obtain food from plants have an effect on the number of other creatures in the ecosystem.
10. Provide Food to Others
Ants are incredibly hardworking little animals that are often overlooked but are essential to the ecosystem. Ants are a necessary part of the ecosystem because they feed a variety of different creatures.
Ants provide a vital food source that is necessary for many arthropods, amphibians, birds, and mammals to survive and thrive. However, their importance goes beyond that. Interestingly enough, ants are the primary source of sustenance for several carnivorous plants.
Ants play a vital role in this complex web of life. They give themselves up as sustenance for the wide variety of organisms they come into contact with. Ants are a delicious meal for arthropods like spiders and beetles. This guarantees their survival within the ecosystem and promotes their growth.
Amphibians such as salamanders and frogs, on the other hand, jump at the chance to include ants in their diet.
These little wonders also benefit birds, who can eat them directly or indirectly by passing them along to their ravenous young. A plentiful supply of ants means that a variety of bird species, from larger raptors to insectivorous songbirds, have easy access to food.
Mammals also benefit from the labor of these industrious insects. shrews, mice, and other small mammals all the way up the food chain to larger predators like foxes and bears. In some seasons or times of the year when there may be a shortage of other prey, a lot of people rely on ants for at least some of their food.
Eusocial creatures, ants have many amazing characteristics. Their critical thinking, inventiveness, and teamwork are a few things that pique our interest.
Ants benefit the ecosystem in a variety of ways, from their function in agriculture and plant growth to their contribution to the health of the food chain.
Here, we covered some important information on ants and their vital role in the ecology.
However, some ant habitats are also affected as a result of the growing difficulties related to climate change. And that serves as a reminder for us to make both individual and group efforts to restore the environment to its original state.
- How to Prevent Soil Erosion in Farming
- 10 Importance of Soil Conservation
- 10 Effects of Soil Pollution on Plants
- 16 Effects of Pollution on Biodiversity
- Examples of Ex-situ and In-situ Conservation of Biodiversity
A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.