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Ants

A yellow meadow ant (3.5 millimetres long). An ant's antennae, or feelers, detect chemical signals, called pheromones (used in...Read More >>A yellow meadow ant (3.5 millimetres long). An ant's antennae, or feelers, detect chemical signals, called pheromones (used in scent trails and for defence), sense vibrations in the air and can send or receive signals to and from other ants through touch. Its two strong jaws, called mandibles, are used to carry food and other objects and for defence. Each of its legs has a hooked claw at the end of it for climbing. Only queens and males (drones) have wings.Ants are insects with thin waists, long, "elbowed" antennae and two strong jaws, called mandibles. More than 15,000 species of ants are known, although many more are thought to exist. They range in size from 0.75 millimetres to more than 4 centimetres (0.03–1.6 inches) long. Ants are closely related to bees and wasps and, like them, live in large colonies. These are made up of a queen, winged males, wingless workers and, in some species, soldiers. Ants have varied diets that include seeds, fruit, honeydew and other insects. Some ants use other insects to help them obtain food. Black garden ants "farm" aphids. In return for the ants' protection from ladybirds and other predators, the aphids provide the ants with honeydew, their sweet-tasting faeces.


One of the commonest ants of the Amazon rainforest is Ectatomma tuberculatum. Here a worker ant is carrying honeydew in her open...Read More >>One of the commonest ants of the Amazon rainforest is Ectatomma tuberculatum. Here a worker ant is carrying honeydew in her open mandibles.
Ant larvae

Life cycle

An ant begins life as a grub, or a larva. It hatches out of an egg laid by the queen. It does nothing but eat, and shed its skin as it grows. When it is large enough, it spins a silk coat around itself. This hardens into a cocoon. Inside this, the larva, now known as a pupa, changes into an adult ant.
 

The bullet ant from the tropical forests of Central and South America has the most painful sting of any insect. It is said to hurt as much as a bullet wound.

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