|Common Nicknames||Little Worker, Allitoll-Ailor|
Ants are a broad-ranging species of ground-dwelling insects that have existed across Aloria for millennia. The species is made up of workers, diligent servants of the colony and the vast majority of its population, and those members who exist solely for propagation, the queens and the males. Most see Ants as nothing more than an aspect of nature, but their draw to food of all sorts means that they can ruin picnics, outdoor eating, and if they inhabit a home, even indoor meals.
Ants have been seen across all of Alorian history with a general mix of neutral to positive attitudes toward them. The Altalar largely saw them as a minor nuisance if they took up residence in structures and started to feed on crops, food stores, or worse yet, prepared food, but on the whole, ignored them outside of this. Over time, a general idea spread among the slave population of the Allorn Empire that the creatures were hard workers, which is largely true to their biology and constant activity in their work. This same opinion existed among the distant Qadir of the Sariyd Empire. As they watched Tower Ants build their mud monuments several feet into the air, many of their faith came to see the creatures as messengers and workers from desert deities, or at the very least, symbols of craftsmen, building, and architecture gods. Today, in the wider world, these opinions largely remain intact. Their name in many tongues means “worker”, “hardy” and so forth, and all of them continue to act and move in the same way they did a millennia ago.
There are several subspecies of Ant, each being quite distinguishable from the other in terms of appearance. That said, there are a number of basic characteristics that are present in all known varieties of the species. Firstly, their body has three segments; the head, thorax and the abdomen, like other insect species. The head features large compound eyes, a pair of antennae and a pair of prominent mandibles that also sit on the face. Six segmented legs are attached to the thorax, which is the segment in between the abdomen and the head, and support the body. Ant varieties often feature enlarged queens, up to four or five times the size of a normal specimen, and certain members of the species may possess wings, but only at certain times of the year.
Most Ants have a rigid and obvious gender hierarchy based on their hives, which also manifests as obvious gender differences. In most of the species, there are two castes: the queen, and her brood, the workers. Queens hold the position of leadership and are larger than those Ants around them. They help the nest to reproduce, often being the sole producer of eggs themselves, and rarely leave their chamber. From here, almost all members of the hive emerge. Then there are the workers, which transport food, build tunnels and more, keeping the entire society operational. There also exist males, but their role is only temporary, being born solely to mate with the queen and to die shortly afterward. Below can be found a listing of the various subspecies of Ant in Aloria.
- Black Ant: Black Ants are the standard and most commonly seen Ant in all of Aloria, existing in various climates across the world. They are totally black and usually live in the earth in their colony with a small mound entrance.
- Red Ant: Red Ants, also called Fire Ants, are a subspecies native to the tropical areas of Aloria. Similar in size to Black Ants, the Red Ants have a wider head and a distinct red or orangish tone to their carapace. They more freely bite violators of their nests, and these bites are painful to their victims due to a harmless, but still potent, stinging venom that they release. They also swarm violators, and whole limbs on sentient Races can be bitten to the point of looking like Chicken Pecks.
- Pale Ant: The Pale Ant is the smallest subspecies of Ant, and also one of the most unique. They are largely translucent with a vague yellow or beige tinge to their form, and they tend to cluster together far more frequently than other Ant species. These mega-colonies can number into the thousands, and most commonly appear in tropical or humid environments save Farah’deen.
- Tower Ant: Tower Ants are the largest subspecies of mundane Ant and live solely in Farah’deen. They are remarkable if not mindless builders, constructing tall mud and vegetation towers as high as twelve feet. They are also the most overtly aggressive and “militaristic”, traveling in huge columns out of their colony entrances to feed and collect materials. If people get in their way, they will attack, and while they lack the venom of the Red Ant, their larger size (about the length of half-an-inch when compared to barely a quarter-of-an-inch) makes them more deadly.
Life Span and Development
Ants have a broad range of development cycles based on subspecies and climate, but they do share some commonalities. They are born as tiny white ovular eggs from which they hatch as larvae. At this stage, they are incredibly vulnerable and are fed by workers, maturing and morphing into pupae. Finally, after a period of dormancy, they emerge as a fully grown adult of whatever caste they have been elected to serve in. This process takes anywhere from one to two weeks. Queens can live up to several years, but some are replaced by one of their “daughters”, particular future-queens who mature, grow and commonly leave the colony after having relations with the male Ants, preparing them for the formation of their own colony. Workers meanwhile have generally short lifespans of anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, while male lives are similarly short-spanned, and as they exist solely for reproduction and fly off with future queens to help, but serve no other purpose and often die shortly after this period.
Ants are mindless in the daily fulfillment of the task they were born to do. They appear largely loyal to their queen, or in the case of mega-colonies, queens, but how or why is unknown. Ant subspecies often fight each other, sometimes even the same subspecies but just from different colonies, for unknown reasons. Most assume that this antagonism is usually started over resources but it is impossible to be certain. Ants are also not picky about what they eat, so long as it is organic; even their own dead or the dead of others often carried back to the colony for consumption.
Territory and Groupings
Ants exist in large colonies, commonly being found in the ground, but also capable of forming in the walls or roofs of certain structures. Colonies can vary widely in size and sometimes combine together to form mega-colonies with up to thousands of individual members. The most common varieties of Ant are not territorial of the space around their colonies, but intrusions into the colony itself are often assaulted with the intention to be repelled.
- The Saruhanna Sand Ant is assumed by most to be an Essence mutated variety of Tower Ant.
- Altalar gave the Ants the name “Allitoll-Ailor” which roughly translates to “Little Ailor”. This is thought to reference a variety of aspects about the Ant, from their expendability, service to a monarch, constant fighting with others of their kind, and small size.