5 Animals That Are Impressive Architects

Many animals are experts at building structures – be it for living, a place to breed or for protection. chimpanzees rebuild their nests every night until they sit right in the branches of a tree. Small animals called coral polyps are responsible for building coral reefs. And honeybees have hexagonal honeycombs in their hives to store honey and their brood. Of all the builders in the animal kingdom, here are five examples of animal architects.

1. Ants

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Ant colonies are impressive works of technology, which house thousands of ants. Each consists of a queen, female worker ants and male ants. The purpose of the queen is to lay eggs, while the workers feed the larvae, tend to waste litter and forage. The males mate with the queen. These underground cities contain rooms with a connecting network of tunnels and usually only take a week to complete. Different rooms have specific uses, such as food storage, living space for offspring and resting places. Ants also build ventilation turrets so that they can maintain an even temperature throughout the nest. Have a look at this video below, with an excavation of a mega ant colony.

2. beavers

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The semi-aquatic Beaver is known as an ecosystem engineer – and for good reason. The dams they build serve as barriers to slow or block the water, creating small ponds where they build their lodges. The largest rodent in the US, these sturdy architects weigh between 30 and 50 pounds. With their sharp teeth, they cut down trees and use them to slow down flowing water. Then they add branches, sticks and mud to make it waterproof. The largest beaver dam is located in Canada, is half a mile long and is visible from space!

3. Birds

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Birds can only use their beaks and legs to build nests. They can use a variety of materials, including dead leaves, pine needles, twigs, dead grass, straw, paper, cobwebs, feathers, rope, and more. There is quite a bit variety of nest designs, including sphere, pendant, mound and platform. The social weaver builds one of the most unusual types of nests. These huge nesting chambers are not only used to house breeding birds, they provide permanent shelter for the weavers – and can last up to a century. Social weavers are communal and live with up to 100 breeding pairs in a nesting community. In total, the population can reach several hundred birds, including offspring.

4. Termites

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No termite species in the US builds mounds above ground. But some termite species in Africa, Australia and South America build giant mounds that can take years to complete and reach more than 25 feet in height. Made of soil, saliva and dung – these intricate creations are more than just the above-ground tower. The real action takes place underground. The termites live in a nest at ground level or below. The mound itself is porous, allowing outside air to aid ventilation and prevent the nest from overheating. The queen’s job is to produce new termites, which serve to maintain the nest. Unbelievable, the queen can produce 30,000 eggs every day. In 2018, scientists discovered a metropolis of termite mounds about 4,000 years old.

5. Wasps

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Although there are more than 30,000 species of wasps, three main wasps are yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps. The honeycomb nest is started by the queen who, with the help of her saliva, chews on wood fibers to pulp. Worker wasps then help build the rest of the nest, creating a network of about 200 cells. The wasp colony is at its largest in the summer months. In winter, most wasps die, leaving only the queen to eventually start a new nest when the weather warms. Although she will not return to an old nest, she can build a new nest in the same area.

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