Animals·Nov 7, 2014Intimate And Amazing Photos From Inside The Hidden World Of AntsWhat is this? A center for ants?!?! Why yes, Derek...that's precisely what it is.by Macey J ForondaBuzzFeed StaffFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP / Getty Images There are more than 12,000 known ant species around the world, with average life spans from several weeks to several years. Giant ant (Paraponera clavata), Paris, Oct. 10, 2013. Nurcholis Anhari Lubis / Getty Images Colonies are headed by a queen or multiple queens that lay thousands of eggs in their lifetime. Male ants' primary function is to mate with queens. Ant eggs are an alternative food that are rich in protein and vitamins. Bogor, Indonesia, April 7, 2014. Dominic Greves / Rex / REX USA Worker ants, the most typically seen ant, are wingless females that forage for food, care for the queens' offspring, and work on the nest, amongst other things. Wood ant (Formica rufa) carrying a heather seed on its way back from foraging for food items and building materials for nest repairs, Dorset, England, March 5, 2014. Paul Quagliana / Bournemouth News / Rex / REX USA Ants communicate by using chemicals that alert their colony to danger or possible food sources. Wood ants (Formica rufa) squirt formic acid, a foul-smelling venom, into the air to deter aerial predators from their nest, Dorset, England, March 2014. FLPA / Rex / REX USA Some species of ants will enslave other ants for labor. A harvester ant (Messor barbara) with its jaws open in defensive posture, France, 2012. FLPA / Rex / REX USA Ants can carry and move items 10-50 times their body weight. A weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) colony, sewing two leaves together to repair their nest, Queensland, Australia, 2012. Vincentius Ferdinand / Solent News / Rex / REX USA Ants can be territorial and will fight with other colonies. Red ants play tug of war with a fly they caught around a pile of garbage, Batam Island, Indonesia, 2011. ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP / Getty Images The oldest known ants appeared during the Cretaceous period over 100 million years ago. Giant ants (Paraponera clavata), Paris, Oct. 10, 2013. FLPA / Rex / REX USA Ants sometimes herd aphids as a source of food. A black garden ant (Lasius niger) herding black bean aphids (Aphis fabae), for milking honeydew, Leicestershire, England, 2012. Nature Picture Library / Rex / REX USA Certain types of ants collect leaf fragments for fungus gardens within their nests. Fungus is an essential food source for the ants and their larvae. A leafcutter ant colony harvesting a banana leaf, Costa Rica, 2013.