Insect guide > Ants
All of the true ants belong to the group: Super-family Formicoidea. They are all very characteristic in appearance and there are very few other insects which can be mistaken for them, except possibly the so-called cow-ants, or velvet ants, of the family Mutillidae (super-family Vespoidea), or the so-called white ants, which belong to an entirely different order and which really should not be called ants, if popular names are to coincide at all with scientific classification.
The true ants, however, as shown in the synoptic table, are readily distinguished from all other Hymenoptera, aside from their general and more characteristic appearance, by the one or two swellings on the petiole of the abdomen.
Ants live in communities and are social insects. Social life with certain of the ants is carried to the greatest extreme known in nature. The differentiation into different castes or forms of individuals of the same species is carried to a much higher extent than with the bees and wasps. With the bumblebees there is a separation into two classes of workers, there are large workers and small workers which have different functions in the community. with the ants this becomes almost the rule and when we consider all ants we find that there may be eight distinct castes, not all in the same individual species, though five may occur in the same species.
There are not only the ordinary winged females, the large workers and the small workers (workers major and workers minor, as they are termed), but with certain species there is a well developed and well adapted caste which does the principal fighting for the community and which is known as the soldier. Click for pictures of ants or ant control.