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Unveiling Ant Intelligence - IELTS Reading Passage with Question & Answers

Updated on 17 November, 2023

Akansha Semwal

Akansha Semwal

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert


Ants are more than just industrious insects; they are among the most intelligent of the eusocial creatures, exhibiting complex behaviors that have fascinated scientists for decades. This passage will delve into the sophisticated social structures and problem-solving abilities of ants, providing a glimpse into their tiny but astonishing world.


The world of ants is a microcosm of order and ingenuity. These eusocial insects, characterized by their high level of cooperation and complex social systems, have captivated scientists with their intelligence and adaptability. Ant colonies operate without central control, and each member performs tasks critical to the colony's survival.

Remarkably, ant intelligence is manifested in various ways, from their communication methods, such as the use of pheromones, to their ability to navigate long distances and form intricate networks of nests. The division of labor within an ant colony is a testament to their organizational skills, with specific roles assigned to workers, soldiers, and the queen.

One of the most striking displays of ant intelligence is their use of collective decision-making. When faced with a challenge, such as finding the shortest path to a food source, ants utilize a trial-and-error method where the actions of individual ants influence the behavior of the colony. Over time, the most efficient route becomes reinforced by pheromone trails, guiding others directly to the food.

The intelligence of ants also extends to their ability to farm aphids for honeydew and even engage in what can be considered primitive agriculture by cultivating fungus gardens. These behaviors require not only cognitive skill but also an evolved understanding of their environment and the resources available to them.

It is through observing such intricate behaviors that one can appreciate the vast intelligence housed within these tiny creatures, an intelligence that has ensured their survival for millions of years.

Questions & Multiple Choice Options:

Q1: Ant colonies are an example of which type of social structure?

A. Solitary

B. Eusocial

C. Communal

D. Territorial

A1: B. Eusocial

Q2: What do ants primarily use for communication?

A. Sound

B. Pheromones

C. Visual signals

D. Electrical pulses

A2: B. Pheromones

Q3: How do ants typically find the shortest path to a food source?

A. Instinct

B. Following birds

C. Trial-and-error

D. Wind direction

A3: C. Trial-and-error

Q4: What is NOT a role within an ant colony?

A. Workers

B. Soldiers

C. Kings

D. Queens

A4: C. Kings

Q5: True or False: Ants have been observed to engage in agricultural activities.

A5: True

Q6: Fill in the blank: Ants navigate long distances and form intricate networks of ______.

A6: nests

Q7: What reinforces the most efficient route to a food source in an ant colony?

A. Ant songs

B. Bright colors

C. Pheromone trails

D. Magnetic fields

A7: C. Pheromone trails

Q8: Fill in the blank: Ants farm aphids to harvest ______.

A8: honeydew

Q9: True or False: Each ant in a colony decides its role based on personal preference.

A9: False

Q10: Fill in the blank: The division of labor in an ant colony is a testament to their ______ skills.

A10: organizational

Answers with Explanations:

A1 Explanation:

'Eusocial' describes the highest level of social organization in a hierarchical society, which is evident in ant colonies due to their structured roles and cooperative breeding.

A2 Explanation:

Ants use pheromones, chemical signals, to communicate with each other, a method that is vital for the coordination of activities within the colony.

A3 Explanation:

Through a trial-and-error process, individual ants' actions influence the colony's behavior, leading to the discovery and reinforcement of the most efficient path to resources.

A4 Explanation:

The term 'kings' is not typically used to describe a role in ant colonies. The main roles are workers, soldiers, and the queen.

A5 Explanation:

Ants have been observed engaging in forms of agriculture, such as farming aphids for honeydew and cultivating fungus, demonstrating their advanced cognitive abilities.

A6 Explanation:

The blank should be filled with 'nests' to describe the complex structures that ants create, which are essential for their living and coordination.

A7 Explanation:

Pheromone trails are laid down by ants as they travel, and the most efficient path becomes reinforced as more ants follow it, making it the primary route to the food source.

A8 Explanation:

Aphids produce honeydew, which ants harvest, showing a symbiotic relationship between the two species and ants' ability to farm other creatures.

A9 Explanation:

Roles in an ant colony are not based on personal preference but are determined by the needs of the colony and the ants' physiological characteristics.

A10 Explanation:

The division of labor showcases ants' organizational skills, as each ant has a specific role that contributes to the colony's functioning and survival.

Tips for Cracking the IELTS Reading Exam:

Tip 1:

Understand the passage structure. Identify the introduction, body, and conclusion to better predict where answers might be located.

Tip 2:

Look for keywords in the questions that will help you scan the passage for related information.

Tip 3:

Practice skimming and scanning techniques. You don't need to read every word to find the answers—get the gist and move on.

Tip 4:

Develop the ability to identify paraphrasing. The IELTS exam often rephrases information from the passage in the questions.

Tip 5:

Improve your vocabulary related to the topic. Familiarize yourself with terms specific to the subject matter of the passage to better understand and answer the questions.

Akansha Semwal

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

Akansha Semwal is a content marketer at upGrad and has also worked as a social media marketer & sub-editor. Experienced in creating impressive Statement of Purpose, Essays, and LOR, she knows how to captivate the attention of Admissions Committee. Her research-driven;study-abroad articles helps aspirants to make the prudent decision. She holds a bachelor's & master's degree in Literature from the University of Delhi.

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