Posted on Jan 12, 2021 163
The answer is simple: because ants are useful! But before discussing the benefits of ants for humans and the forest biocoenosis, we would like to emphasize that destroying anthills is just as unacceptable as any destructive, vandalizing actions in nature, because they disturb the life of the forest community, disrupting the balance established over centuries and millennia. Birds’ nests must not be destroyed. You must not kick and trample fly agaric mushrooms and other poisonous mushrooms - they are poison for you, but for many forest inhabitants they are food and medicine! You must not kill animals - frogs, snakes, lizards. Do not pollute the forest - take garbage with you (cans, plastic bags), it takes a long time to decompose in nature (dozens of years!). Do not make a noise in the forest - it frightens and disturbs its masters - forest dwellers.
Do not destroy anthills!
A man unwittingly harms nature even without directed testing. This happens because of economic activity, during which forests are cut down and their inhabitants die. So let us treat the remaining pockets of unspoiled nature with care, because our lives depend on it.
Returning directly to ants, we clearly understand that the colonies of these insects are an essential part of the forest fauna, they perform many ecological functions. It is not without reason that ants are called forest sanitarians. Ants are omnivores - they are universal predators and scavengers. Actively eating the larvae of harmful insects such as beetles and butterflies, they take part in regulating their numbers and preserving the forest. During a season, one large ant hill of forest ants kills from 100 thousand to 1 million insects.
Compared to other insect predators that destroy pests (entomophagous), ants have a significant advantage. The fact is that the number of entomophagous depends directly on the number of victims, i.e. on the amount of food. Until the mass reproduction of pests begins, the number of insect predators that feed on them is small. As soon as the pest reproduces and the amount of food has increased, the mass reproduction of predators begins. However, it usually lags about two weeks, the time it takes for the larvae to emerge from the laid eggs and then for the adult predators to grow. During these two weeks, the pest has time to cause damage. Ants do not obey such a pattern, their number does not depend on the presence or absence of the pest - they are always ready.
By eating plant seeds, ants help spread them, because they do not carry all of their prey to the anthills. Ants sometimes act as pollinators of flowers because they like to enjoy nectar as well. Ants contribute to soil fertility. They mix and aerate the soil, loosen it to a depth of 50-70 cm, and enrich it with organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Therefore, the anthills of red wood ants play the role of a “fertility factory”: grasses, bushes, and even trees growing near the anthills grow lushly. The vegetation around the anthills is characterized by intense growth and bright green coloration.
Scientists have calculated an optimal number of anthills per a forest territory unit: 4 active anthills with a diameter of 1,3-1,5 m per forest hectare in pine forests, 6-7 nests in oak forests. Anthills of smaller size should be, respectively, even more.
That’s why ants must be protected, and first their home - anthills. Restoration of the destroyed anthill takes a lot of efforts and expenses for a family, and if there is a strong destruction, they can not cope with it, and the family will die. Despite the external symmetry of an ant pile, it is not so inside: it is an intricate network of mazes and chambers. Some of them go as deep as 3-4 meters! Therefore, even a slight disturbance of the above-ground part of the anthill destroys the structure of the ant dwelling, and it takes a lot of time to restore it.
Where there are many visitors in the forest, the forestry workers specially fence off the anthills.
There are some species of ants that are harmful to humans, such as house ants. They not only eat food, but can also be carriers of infections. This neighborhood is very unpleasant for humans. By feeding on insects, ants can cause harm by eating beneficial members of this class as well. Being in a symbiotic relationship with aphids and mealybugs, pests of gardens and orchards, ants patronize them and protect them from predators. However, if we are talking about forest ants, it is usually about the survival of these amazing insects, and each of us must do our part to protect and defend the “forest sanitarians. “By destroying an anthill, you are ruining your friends’ house,” says a folk proverb.