Ants: the basics

ant on flower

Ants are wholly fascinating creatures. But before we dive into the details, let’s look at a few important facts about ants: ant genders and roles, species, and social behaviors.

Ant genders and roles

There are 3 types of ants: males, fertile females, and sterile females.

Fertile females are queens and have wings. Their job is to lay eggs. Queen ants are not dictators. They lay eggs but do not manage or direct the work of the colony. In fact, there is no one ant or one type of ant centrally controlling the colony. Individual ants make decisions on what to do.

Sterile females are workers or soldiers. Most of the ants you see out and about are sterile females.

Males mate with queens, then die.


There are over 12,000 species of ants that have been classified. Ants show an incredible diversity in species, from tiny ordinary ants out on your sidewalk to army ants marching across Africa.

Social Behaviors

All ants live in colonies, which range from a few dozen ants to millions.

Watching ants work together is fascinating for children and adults. People who study ants are called myrmecologists.

More on Ants

This is the introductory post in a series on ants. If you’re itching to get started with some hands-on learning about ants, try an ant farm!

Ant series

Did you know that ants are the only creatures, besides humans, to herd other creatures? Ants are fascinating! Join us as we explore more of their miniature world:

Explore more on ants with us on Twitter and Pinterest.

Ants and sugar

Can butterflies hear? Do they make sound?

Most butterflies are quiet. But some, surprisingly can hear and “speak.”

A butterfly’s ear

A few species of butterflies have an “ear” on their wings called Vogel’s organ. It’s a sac filled with liquid that vibrates with sound.

Some butterflies can tell the difference between high and low pitched sounds.

Making sound

Some butterflies, like the Hamadryas feronia in the picture, make a clicking sound with their wing when following another butterfly around. The Hamadryas butterfly’s sound is loud enough for humans to hear and gives the butterfly its nickname of “cracker” butterfly.

Related products

Butterfly student kit

Butterfly life cycle model

More information

A picture of Vogel’s organ

Sound production and hearing in the blue cracker butterfly

Wing-click sounds of Helioconius cydno alithea butterflies

World Space Week

World Space WeekIt’s World Space Week!

Space is one of the most fascinating frontiers of science to explore. Stars, planets, nebulae… It’s an endless possibility for scientific excitement.

To celebrate World Space Week, try one of the K-12 teacher guides from My favorite activity is Eggnaut, in which a student builds a reentry vehicle to protect a raw egg from breaking when dropped. The guide suggests ways to adapt the activity to all grade levels.

While you’re celebrating World Space Week, don’t forget the astronaut ice cream!

Related Products

Night Sky Projection Kit
Solar System Model

Squishy science: experiment and a GIVEAWAY

Squishy Science

Ready for a squishy science experiment you can do with your class or your kids?
This experiment with Warblettes, also known as water beads or water marbles, thrills kids of all ages, and includes:

  • printable lab/experiment pages
  • pictures and instructions
  • ways to expand the experiment
  • a GIVEAWAY of free Warblettes

Head over to The Homeschool Scientist to see the experiment!