Science KS2: Why are ants different sizes?

The young scientists are keen to find out why ants are different sizes. Dr George McGavin explains how the ant colony is organised into different types of ants, known as castes.

Each castes is a different shape and size and has a special job to do.

The soldier ants are big with huge mandibles that are used for defending the nest and carrying large objects. The smaller media ants collect leaves and take them back to the colony. The smallest ants, called minima, use the leaves brought back to the colony to farm fungus.

Minima ants are the most numerous, so they are also tasked with looking after the young in the colony.

The colony is very organised and each caste of ant has its own special job so that the ant community can survive.

This clip is from the series Life on Planet Ant.

Teacher Notes

Students could research ant behaviour using various ICT sources and have fun creating job advertisements for the different kinds of ants. Key specifications may include ‘jaws strong enough to cut through leather’ or ‘able to lift 100 times own body weight’.

Students could also be encouraged to sketch ants in their local environments to accompany their job adverts, identifying and labelling key features.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Science/Biology at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 2nd Level in Scotland.

More from Life on Planet Ant

Inside an ant colony
How ants communicate
What ants eat and what eats ants
How to build a mini ant nest
Life cycle of an ant