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  Ants - An Overview

These highly social insects live in colonies that consist of a dozen to several million individuals. The most commonly seen ants are the sterile, wingless, female workers. Reproductive queens and males usually have wings. The second, or second and third, segments of the abdomen are constricted to form a distinct "waist." This waist may have either bumps or spiny processes. Most ants are red-brown or black in color, but yellow and greem species also occur. Ants protect themselves by biting or stinging, or by spraying formic acid.

  Life Cycle

After mating, males die and queens shed their wings. Typically, a single queen lays all of a colony's eggs. As the colony grows, workers take away and protect the eggs, and then care for and feed the hatched young. If a protein diet is fed to female larvae, they become reproductives.


Worldwide. In all habitats.


Ants are significant predators or herbivores in most habitats. Much more animal flesh, for example, is eaten by ants in African savannas than by lions, hyenas, and other carnivores. Some species, such as the leaf-cutter ants and the Fire Ant, can be serious crop pests.

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