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Ants

AntAnts are social insects of the family Formicidae (pronounced /fɔrˈmɪsɨdiː/) and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants.[3] More than 12,500 out of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified.[4][5][6] They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and a distinctive node-like structure that forms a slender waist.

Ant with leafAnts form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organized colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. These larger colonies consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of "workers", "soldiers", or other specialized groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called "drones" and one or more fertile females called "queens". The colonies are sometimes described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.[7]

Ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems, and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass.[8] Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organization and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves. Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensal, parasitic, and mutualistic relationships.[9]

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