What Is the Purpose of Ants?

Ants have many ecological purposes, including caring for other insects, spreading the seeds of some plants, breaking up soil and serving as a source of food. Anteaters and humans are among the animals that eat ants.

Ants and their eggs are considered a type of caviar in some areas of the world, and in parts of Asia, they’re made into a condiment. Ants, which evolved from wasps, sometimes gather other insects to harvest their sweet excretions. Some insects capitalize on ants’ mothering natures by using ants as babysitters for their offspring. Ants spread the seeds of an estimated 9 percent of all plants. In areas prone to wildfires, ants are especially important to the survival of plants because they take seeds safely underground.

There are an estimated 1 million ants for every person on the planet, and the total volume of ants equals that of humans. Ants live on almost every land area in the world in groups that range from several dozen to millions. The only places where ants do not live are Antarctica and a few hostile islands. Their movement in building and maintaining their nests below ground level helps break up soil, which encourages plant growth. Ants are studied for their similarities to humans, including the ability to communicate in a number of ways, their division of work tasks and their problem-solving abilities.