The ants, one of the most successful groups of insects, are of particular interest because they form advanced colonies. They belong to the order Hymenoptera, and are close relatives of the sphecid wasps. The first known ants appeared sometime during the Cretaceous period, and it is believed that they evolved from the wasps that had appeared during the Jurassic period. They are physiologically distinguished mainly by having six legs, sharply elbowed antennae, and by having a bead-like pedicel formed from the first few abdominal segments, which in wasps are joined to the thorax. Ants are mostly wingless, which varies between individuals in a colony rather than between species.













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A new worker spends the first few days of its adult life caring for the queen and young. After that it graduates to digging and other nest work, and then to foraging and defense of the nest. These changes are fairly abrupt and define what are called temporal castes. In a few ants there are also physical castes - workers come in a spectrum of sizes, called minor, media, and major workers, the latter beginning foraging sooner. Often the larger ants will have disproportionately larger heads, and so stronger mandibles. In a few species the media workers have disappeared, so there is a sharp divide and clear physical difference between the minors and majors, sometimes called soldiers.

Above Images Are From The USDA





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