Ants are eusocial insects belonging to the family Formicidae and order Hymenoptera. They are closely related to wasps and bees with a narrow waist segmenting their bodies. Ants’ bodies are separated into three parts: the head, gaster, and thorax. There are more than 12,000 ant species worldwide, some brown, red and black.
Ants are very social insects living in structured nest communities, which may be located underground, in trees or on ground-level mounds. Moreover, unlike carpenter ants which nest in wood, army ants defy the norm and do not confine to permanent homes. Instead, they seek food to feed their vast colonies during the migration period.
In addition, ant colonies are headed by queens whose primary functions are to lay thousands of eggs to grow the communities and ensure their survival. Worker ants, which are usually easy to see on ground level, are wingless females that do not reproduce. Instead, they hunt for food, work on the nest, care for their queens’ offspring, and protect the community. On the other hand, male ants have one role: mating with the queen. Once they have done their job, they die.
Ants are intelligent insects; they communicate using chemicals to alert their fellow ants against danger or direct them to promising food sources. Also, ants feed on nectar, fungus, seeds, or other insects. Nonetheless, some ant species are unusual diets, for instance, the army ants, which prey on birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
Characteristics of Ants
- Ants have a pair of bent antennae on their head.
- They also have a pinched area between the thorax and abdomen known as the petiole.
- Most ants lack wings as they are worker ants.
- Queens and male ants are winged and may occasionally be seen when they swarm.