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Ten Fascinating Facts About Ants


   With the release of Marvel’s newest film, Ant-Man, UC Riverside’s Suveen Mathaudhu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and expert on the science of superheroes; Dong-Hwan Choe, assistant professor of entomology whose research focuses on three major areas: urban entomology, insect behavior, and chemical ecology; and UCR entomology graduate student Kevin Welzel came up with ten interesting facts some may not know about ants. Most insects, such as the Argentine ant seen here, are covered with a thin layer of hydrocarbon molecules as a waterproofing barrier. Photo credit: Mike Lewis, CISR, UC Riverside.
  1. Ants are social! They work together to take care of the colony in elaborate underground labyrinths.
  2. Ants have an advanced communication system! Unlike humans that rely on sound, ants use chemicals for communication.
  3. There are 1,000 species of ants in the U.S. alone.
  4. Ants are edible. Fire ants taste spicy on account of the formic acid they produce.
  5. The ant is one of the world’s strongest creatures in relation to its size. It can support up to 20 times its own body weight

Read more: Ten Fascinating Facts About Ants

From the Ground Up: Prune fruit trees

As the weather warms up, most homeowners and landscapers will be busy pruning trees, planting shrubs, mulching landscape beds, renovating or reseeding lawns and even making preparation for a home vegetable garden.


Winter has always been considered the best time to prune trees, especially fruit trees. Late winter is better than early winter. Because removal of diseased wood is a primary consideration, pruning should be done before growth begins in the spring.


When trees and vines begin fruiting, annual pruning is essential to renew fruiting wood and to adjust crop load. With time, fruit wood may lose its ability to have fruit and/or large-size fruit. Removal of some of this older fruit wood will stimulate the development of new, healthy wood that will have fruit buds in the coming years.

Pruning can be considered as a pest-control operation. Good pruning practices result in increased light penetration throughout the canopy of the plant. Light may also be regarded as a natural pesticide. Areas receiving adequate sunlight may be less prone to certain diseases.


Along with improved sunlight penetration comes better air circulation and spray penetration throughout the canopy of the plant. Together, these factors should facilitate good pest control. Conscientious pruning involves removal of diseased wood which may harbor problems for the coming growing season. This is the second way in which pruning may be regarded as a pest control operation.


A healthy, mature fruit tree will generally set more fruit buds than is needed for a full crop. If trees are allowed to overbear, fruit size will decrease, limb breakage may result due to the excess weight and certain varieties, especially in apples, may go into an alternate bearing cycle. Since fruit buds are formed in most crops the summer of the year prior for the appearance of the fruit, pruning may be regarded as a fruit thinning operation. While pruning will generally not eliminate the need for thing the crop following fruit set, it will reduce fruiting stress enough to allow for better early growth of the plant and the crop than would otherwise be seen.


More detail information on pruning can be found at under publication and search for pruning neglected fruit trees and/or thinning tree fruits.

Anthony Tuggle is director of the Agricultural Extension Service in Rutherford County. Programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.


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