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Brief Summary

    Ant: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the Cretaceous period, about 140 million years ago, and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.

    Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist of various castes of sterile, wingless females, most of which are workers (ergates), as well as soldiers (dinergates) and other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called "drones" (aner) and one or more fertile females called "queens" (gynes). The colonies are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.

    File:Blackants-bredcrust-tokyo-may2015.webmPlay media (video) Ants gathering food File:Ant in Slow Motion.webmPlay media Ant in Slow Motion

    Ants have colonised 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. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organisation 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.

    Ant societies have division of labour, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems. These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study. Many human cultures make use of ants in cuisine, medication, and rituals. Some species are valued in their role as biological pest control agents. Their ability to exploit resources may bring ants into conflict with humans, however, as they can damage crops and invade buildings. Some species, such as the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), are regarded as invasive species, establishing themselves in areas where they have been introduced accidentally.

    Overview
    provided by EOL authors
    Ants, are classified in the family Formicidae. These insects are native to nearly all terrestrial habitats and all parts of the globe except for Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, some parts of Polynesia, and a few remote Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean islands(3), and are often extremely abundant locally(2). Though there are over 8,800 species known (and perhaps over 11,000 more that have not been described)(3), ants generally have a distinctive body structure: while they have, like many insects, a head, thorax (the midsection), and abdomen (the rear section), their “waist” connecting their thorax to the main part of their abdomen is unusually thin and pinched (1,3). Most ants are also characterized by the presence of a metapleural gland, an organ that produces a chemical called phenylacetic acid that is used for fighting bacteria and fungi(2,3); this gland may have helped ants colonize the moist environments where most ant species now live(2). Like only a few other groups of insects, ants have evolved a complex system of social interaction that qualifies them as “eusocial” insects(2,3). They live and work together in multi-generational colonies that are generally organized in “castes” of queens and males (who reproduce) and worker females (who cannot reproduce)(2,3), communicating via a chemical communication system that may be more complicated than that of any other kind of animal(2). In addition to these extraordinary social structures, ants have complex and extremely important relationships with many other species, giving them a central role in ecosystems across the globe(2). Some ants have partnerships with fungi(2). Some ants defend plants from herbivores, help plants reproduce by pollinating their flowers and spreading their seeds, and help plants grow by turning over the soil (which keeps it rich and healthy)(1,2,3). In fact, many plants depend on ants for their survival(3). On the other hand, some ants are the primary plant-eaters in their environments(1,2), and in many cases ants are major predators of small animals(2). Although some ant species can be pests themselves(1,2), some are beneficial to humans by feeding on harmful crop pests(2)—and by serving as subjects for a wide range of scientific studies(2,3).

Comprehensive Description

Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Diagnostic Description

    Diagnostic Description
    provided by Plazi (legacy text)

    Morphological terminology follows Bolton (1994), on which much of this key is based. The term mesosoma is used in preference to alitrunk, to refer to the body part formed from fusion of the thorax and the first abdominal segment (i.e., thorax + propodeum). The promesonotum is that part of the mesosoma composed of the pronotum and the mesonotum. Metasoma refers to the apparent abdomen, comprising the segments posterior to the propodeum, i.e., abdominal segment 2 and succeeding segments. In ants abdominal segment2 forms a node- or scale-like petiole, which is separated by a constriction from the rest of the metasoma. In some species abdominal segment 3 is also node-like and in this case it is said to form a postpetiole.

    The key has been designed to apply only to those ant species occurring in California but it should also work for most of western North America, excluding Arizona and New Mexico where additional genera occur.

    1 Postpetiole present: abdominal segment 3 separated from segment 4 by a strong constriction and distinctly smaller in size, so that anteriorly the metasoma has two nodelike segments, the petiole and postpetiole .................................................................... 2

    - Postpetiole absent: abdominal segment 3 separated from segment 4 by a weak to moderate constriction or by none at all, and when viewed in profile not distinctly smaller in size (height) than segment 4; metasoma anteriorly with a single, isolated node-like or scale-like segment ....................................................................................................... 26

    2 Eye reduced to a single ommatidium or absent; antennal insertions fully exposed in a full-face view of head ( Ecitoninae ) ........................................ Neivamyrmex Borgmeier

    - Eye very rarely reduced, usually consisting of multiple ommatidia; antennal insertions not fully exposed, covered partially by frontal lobes or medial extensions of the antennal sclerites, when the head is observed in full-face view ........................................... 3

    3 Eye very large, eye length about one-half of head length (excluding mandibles); pronotum freely articulating with mesonotum ( Pseudomyrmecinae ) ............................. ....................................................................................................... Pseudomyrmex Lund

    - Eye less than one-half head length; pronotum fused with mesonotum ( Myrmicinae ) ... ....................................................................................................................................... 4

    4 Antenna with 6 segments, including a 2-segmented club ............................................. 5

    - Antenna with 10 segments, including a 2-segmented club ......... Solenopsis Westwood

    - Antenna with 11 segments; club variable ..................................................................... 6

    - Antenna with 12 segments; club variable.. ................................................................ 14

    5 Mandible elongate and linear, with an apical fork of two spiniform teeth ...................... ...................................................................................................... Strumigenys F. Smith

    - Mandible short and subtriangular, with a multi-denticulate masticatory margin ........... ............................................................................................................... Pyramica Roger

    6 Postpetiole attached to the dorsal surface of the following abdominal segment; petiole dorsoventrally flattened, not node-like in profile ........................... Crematogaster Mayr

    - Postpetiole attached to the anterior face of the following segment; petiole node-like in profile, not dorsoventrally flattened ............................................................................. 7

    7 Head in lateral view with a diagonal carina running from above the eye down toward the mandibular insertion; promesonotum with conspicuous tubercles or spines ......... 8

    - Head in lateral view lacking such a diagonal carina; promesonotum without conspicuous tubercles or spines .................................................................................................9

    8 Frontal lobes expanded laterally and covering the sides of the head below the eyes, in full-face view; body lacking erect pilosity.................................... Cyphomyrmex Mayr

    - Frontal lobes not expanded laterally to cover the sides of the head; body with erect pilosity.............................................................................................. Acromyrmex Mayr

    9 Antenna with a distinct 2-segmented apical club............................... Wasmannia Forel

    - Antenna lacking a distinct 2-segmented apical club, either 3-segmented or indistinct.. .....................................................................................................................................10

    10 Eye absent or rudimentary; propodeum unarmed, basal face rounding into declivitous face ................................................................................................ Solenopsidininew genus

    - Eye well developed, with multiple ommatidia; propodeum angulate or spinose.......11

    11 Lateral portions of clypeus, in front of the antennal insertions, developed in the form of a raised ridge or shield-wall; frontal carinae extending almost to the posterior margin of the head......................................................................... Tetramorium Mayr (part)

    - Lateral portions of clypeus not developed as a raised ridge or shield-wall; frontal carinae very short or absent...............................................................................................12

    12 Eye with short erect setae projecting between the ommatidia........ Formicoxenus Mayr

    - Eye lacking erect setae................................................................................................13

    13 Median portion of clypeus with a smooth, longitudinally excavate surface, and lacking carinae .............................................................................................. Leptothorax Mayr

    - Median portion of clypeus with several longitudinal carinae......................................... ................................................................................................. Temnothorax Mayr (part)

    14 Hind tibial spur finely pectinate (as seen at 50-100x magnification).........................15

    - Hind tibial spur simple or absent.................................................................................17

    15 Metanotal groove absent or very weakly impressed, not breaking the dorsal profile of the mesosoma; psammophore usually present............................ Pogonomyrmex Mayr

    - Metanotal groove present and interrupting the dorsal profile of the mesosoma; psammophore absent...........................................................................................................16

    16 Propodeum unarmed; mandible with more than 12 teeth ....................... Manica Jurine

    - Propodeum armed with a pair of spines; mandible with 6-10 teeth .. Myrmica Latreille

    17 Lateral portions of clypeus, in front of the antennal insertions, developed in the form of a raised ridge or shield-wall; apex of sting with triangular lamellate appendage...... ................................................................................................. Tetramorium Mayr (part)

    - Lateral portions of clypeus not developed as a raised ridge or shield-wall; apex of sting without triangular lamellate appendage .....................................................................18

    18 Petiole short and sessile, lacking well differentiated anterior peduncle and dorsal node; ventrolateral margin of head with sharp, longitudinal carina extending from mandibular base to posterolateral corner of head........................................... Myrmecina Curtis

    - Petiole with anterior peduncle and dorsal node; ventrolateral margin of head without sharp, longitudinal carina ...........................................................................................19

    19 Dorsum of head and mesosoma without standing pilosity .......... Cardiocondyla Emery

    - Dorsum of head and mesosoma with standing pilosity ............................................... 20

    20 Anteromedian portion of clypeus notably elevated and bounded by a pair of carinae that diverge anteriorly ................................................................................................ 21

    - Anteromedian portion of clypeus not abruptly elevated and lacking a pair of anteriorly diverging carinae ........................................................................................................ 23

    21 Propodeum unarmed ....................................................................... Monomorium Mayr

    - Propodeum armed with a pair of teeth or spines ........................................................ 22

    22 Antennal club 3-segmented; propodeal spiracle large and located close to the declivitous face of the propodeum, separated from latter by no more than the diameter of the spiracle .................................................................................................. Rogeria Emery

    - Antennal club 4-segmented; propodeal spiracle relatively small and separated from the declivitous face of the propodeum by more than the spiracle diameter .......................... ....................................................................................................... Stenamma Westwood

    23 Antennal club 3- (rarely 4-) segmented ....................................................................... 24

    - Antenna lacking a distinct club ................................................................................... 25

    24 In profile promesonotum domed and distinctly elevated above the propodeal dorsum; workers dimorphic ......................................................................... Pheidole Westwood

    - In profile entire mesosoma dorsum flat to weakly convex, promesonotum not domed or markedly elevated above the level of the propodeum; workers monomorphic .......... ................................................................................................. Temnothorax Mayr (part)

    25 Head narrow, longer than broad; mandible slender and triangular, outer margin not strongly curving towards the midline; psammophore absent ...... Aphaenogaster Mayr

    - Head broad, subquadrate; mandible short and thick, outer margin strongly curving towards the midline; psammophore usually present ................................. Messor Forel

    26 Pygidium (last visible abdominal tergite) flattened and bordered laterally with a row of peg-like teeth or spines that converge distally ( Cerapachyinae ).... Cerapachys F. Smith

    - Pygidium (last visible abdominal tergite) convex and rounded, lacking a row of teeth or spines ..................................................................................................................... 27

    27 Distinct constriction between abdominal segments 3 and 4; terga and sterna of abdominal segments 3 and 4 laterally fused ......................................................................... 28

    - No constriction between abdominal segments 3 and 4; terga of abdominal segments 3 and 4 overlapping the corresponding sterna, not laterally fused with them ............... 30

    28 Articulation of petiole (second abdominal segment) to third abdominal segment very broad; petiole without a distinct posterior face ( Amblyoponinae ) .................................. ..................................................................................................... Amblyopone Erichson

    - Articulation of petiole (second abdominal segment) to third abdominal segment narrow; petiole with a distinct posterior face .................................................................. 29

    29 Pronotum freely articulating with the mesonotum; abdominal tergite 4 not strongly enlarged and not curved ventrally; apex of metasoma directed posteriorly ( Ponerinae ) ....................................................................................................... Hypoponera Santschi

    - Pronotum fused immovably to the mesonotum; abdominal tergite 4 strongly enlarged and curved ventrally; apex of metasoma directed anteriorly ( Proceratiinae ).................. .......................................................................................................... Proceratium Roger

    30 Apex of metasoma with a circular orifice, often fringed with short setae (the acidopore) ( Formicinae )...................................................................................................31

    - Apex of metasoma with a slit-shaped orifice ( Dolichoderinae )..................................38

    31 Antenna with 9 segments ............................................................. Brachymyrmex Mayr

    - Antenna with 11 segments ................................................................. Plagiolepis Mayr

    - Antenna with 12 segments .........................................................................................32

    32 Metapleural gland absent; antennal insertions well separated from the posterior clypeal margin; in profile mesosoma dorsum usually evenly convex........................ Camponotus Mayr

    - Metapleural gland present; antennal insertions adjacent to the posterior clypeal margin; in profile promesonotum separated from the dorsal face of the propodeum by a distinct impression .....................................................................................................33

    33 Maxillary palp segments 3 and 4 greatly elongated, segment 3 (counting from base) half the head length or more; psammophore present.............. Myrmecocystus Wesmael

    - Maxillary palp segments 3 and 4 not greatly elongated, segment 3 much less than half the head length; psammophore absent .......................................................................34

    34 Ocelli present; propodeal spiracle elliptical to oval....................................................35

    - Ocelli absent or indistinct; propodeal spiracle circular to subcircular.......................36

    35 Mandible triangular, with seven or more distinct teeth on the masticatory margin........ ............................................................................................................ Formica Linnaeus

    - Mandible falcate (sickle-shaped) and lacking distinct teeth............ Polyergus Latreille

    36 Dorsum of head and mesosoma with coarse setae, arranged in distinct pairs; eye situated in relatively anterior position, at or in front of midlength of side of head ............. ............................................................................................ Paratrechina Motschoulsky

    - Pilosity on dorsum of head and mesosoma variable, but not arranged as coarse setae in pairs; eye situated in relatively posterior position, behind midlength of side of head ... .....................................................................................................................................37

    37 Mandible with six teeth; antennal scape long, surpassing posterior margin of head by more than half its length; mesonotum in dorsal view strongly constricted behind pronotum .............................................................................................................. Prenolepis Mayr

    - Mandible with seven or more teeth; antennal scape shorter, surpassing posterior margin of head by less than a third its length; mesonotum in dorsal view not strongly constricted behind pronotum...................................................................... Lasius Fabricius

    38 Propodeum with a prominent conical tooth at the junction of the dorsal and declivitous faces; maxillary palp segment 3 elongate, subequal in length to segments 4-6; apical mandibular tooth much enlarged...................................................... Dorymyrmex Mayr

    - Propodeum rounded or subangulate at the junction of the dorsal and declivitous faces, but without a conical tooth; maxillary palp segment 3 short, subequal in length to segments4; apical mandibular tooth not notably enlarged .............................................. 39

    39 Mesosoma dorsum lacking standing pilosity .............................................................. 40

    - Mesosoma dorsum with standing pilosity .................................................................. 41

    40 Petiole flattened, plate-like, and without a conspicuous, dorsally protruding scale (petiole often overhung by the succeeding abdominal segment); dorsal face of propodeum much shorter than the declivitous (posterior) face ............................ Tapinoma Foerster

    - Petiole with a well developed, dorsally protruding scale; dorsal face of propodeum subequal in length to declivitous face .............................................. Linepithema Mayr

    41 In profile mesosoma dorsum without an impressed metanotal groove, the promesonotum and propodeum forming a continuous surface; workers variable in size within a colony ........................................................................................................... Liometopum Mayr

    - In profile mesosoma dorsum interrupted by a well marked metanotal groove; workers showing little intra-colony size variation .................................................................... 42

    42 Petiole lacking an erect scale; side of mesosoma with conspicuous microreticulate sculpture; dark brown-black, with contrastingly paler tarsi .......... Technomyrmex Mayr

    - Petiole with well developed erect scale; side of mesosoma without conspicuous microreticulate sculpture; varying in color from yellowish-orange to dark brown, but without contrastingly paler tarsi ............................................................ Forelius Emery

    Diagnostic Description
    provided by Plazi (legacy text)

    A few genera are divided into parts, reflecting distinct characters sets outlined in Table 1.

    1. Two distinct, long, narrow spines or lobes present on apical portion of abdominal sternum IX (Fig. 3a) or, if absent, then mandibles extremely elongated, distinctly longer than head, and volsella massive, claw-shaped, directed dorsally. Pygostyles absent........................................................... Cerapachyinae

    - Spines or lobes absent on apical portion of abdominal sternum IX or the apical portion bilobed, with each lobe very wide (Fig. 3b). Mandibles not elongated, distinctly shorter than head. Volsella moderate, not claw-shaped, not directed dorsally. Pygostyles present or absent......................................................2

    2. Abdominal segment III much smaller than segment IV in lateral view (Fig. 3c)....................................3

    - Abdominal segment III nearly as large as segment IV in lateral view (Fig. 3d)......................................4

    3. Hind tibia with two spurs (Fig. 3e)......................................................................... Pseudomyrmecinae

    - Hind tibia with one spur or without spurs (Fig. 3f) ............................................................. Myrmicinae

    4. Anal region of hind wing vestigial. Oblique mesopleural furrow reaching pronotum close to its posteroventral corner (Fig. 4a)...................................................................................................... Proceratiinae

    - Anal region of hind wing well developed. Oblique mesopleural furrow not reaching pronotum, its anterior termination well separated from the pronotum (Fig. 1a)..................................................................5

    5. Petiole (abdominal segment II) broadly and dorsally attached to abdominal segment III; dorsal constriction between petiole and abdominal segment III very shallow or indistinct in lateral view (Fig. 4b......... ........................................................................................................................................ Amblyoponinae

    - Petiole (abdominal segment II) narrowly and ventrally attached to abdominal segment III; dorsal constriction between petiole and abdominal segment III deep in lateral view (Fig. 6a)...6

    6. Scuto-scutellar suture usually longitudinally sculptured. Forewing clearly with cross vein 2rs-m (Fig. 1b); if vein weak then at least with vestigial branches on Radial sector and Media. Scape short, not reaching posterior margin of head in full-face view (Fig. 5c). Constriction between abdominal segments III and IV present in some cases.............................................................................................. Ponerinae

    - Scuto-scutellar suture not longitudinally sculptured. Forewing usually without any trace of cross vein 2rs-m (Fig. 4c). Scape short (Fig. 4d) or long (Fig. 2a). Constriction between abdominal segments III and IV absent...........................................................................................................................................7

    7. Many minute, serrate teeth present on masticatory margin of mandible (Fig. 4d), or, if teeth absent, then scape not reaching posterior margin of head in full-face view........................................ Dolichoderinae

    - Several larger teeth present on masticatory margin of mandible (Fig. 2a). Scape long, distinctly exceeding posterior margin of head in full-face view (Fig. 2a)........................................................ Formicinae

Development

    Formicidae
    provided by EOL authors

    The life of an ant starts with an egg.If the egg is fertilized, the ant will be female (diploid); if not, it will be male (haploid).Ants are holometabulousand develop by complete metamorphosispassing through larval and pupalstages before they become adults.Food is given to the larvae by a process called trophallaxis in which an ant regurgitates food previously held in its crop for communal storage. Larvae and pupae need to be kept at fairly constant temperatures to ensure proper development, and so are often moved around the various brood chambers within the colony.Most of the common ant species breed in the same way. Only the queen and breeding females have the ability to mate.he male ants, called drones, along with the breeding females emerge from pupation with wings and do nothing throughout their life except eat and mate.Then, all the winged breeding ants take flight. Mating occurs in flight and the males die shortly afterward. The females that survive land and seek a suitable place to begin a colony. There, they break off their own wings and begin to lay eggs, which they care for. Spermobtained during their nuptial flight is stored and used to fertilize all future eggs produced.The first worker begin to serve the colony immediately. They enlarge the nest, forage for food, and care for the other eggs. This is how most new colonies start.A few species that have multiple queens can start a new colony as a queen from the old nest takes a number of workers to a new site and founds a colony there.Ant colonies can be long-lived. The queens themselves can live for up to 30 years, while workers live from one to three years. Males, however, are more transitory, surviving only a few weeks.

    Formicidae
    provided by EOL authors

    The life of an ant starts with an egg. If the egg is fertilized, the ant will be female (diploid); if not, it will be male (haploid).Ants are holometabulousand develop by complete metamorphosis,passing through larval and pupalstages before they become adults.Food is given to the larvae by a process called trophallaxis in which an ant regurgitates food previously held in its crop for communal storage.Larvae and pupae need to be kept at fairly constant temperatures to ensure proper development, and so are often moved around the various brood chambers within the colony.Most of the common ant species breed in the same way. Only the queen and breeding females have the ability to mate.The male ants, called drones, along with the breeding females emerge from pupation with wings and do nothing throughout their life except eat and mate. All the winged breeding ants take flight. Mating occurs in flight and the males die shortly afterward. The females that survive land and seek a suitable place to begin a colony. There, they break off their own wings and begin to lay eggs, which they care for. Spermobtained during their nuptial flight is stored and used to fertilize all future eggs produced.The first workers to hatch are weak but they begin to serve the colony immediately. They enlarge the nest, forage for food, and care for the other eggs. This is how most new colonies start. A few species that have multiple queens can start a new colony as a queen from the old nest takes a number of workers to a new site and founds a colony there.Ant colonies can be long-lived. The queens themselves can live for up to 30 years, while workers live from one to three years. Males, however, are more transitory, surviving only a few weeks.

Dispersal

    Ant Mating Behavior
    provided by EOL authors

    Most ants are females. In fact only the princes are males. Nearing mating season the queen produces large amounts of male unfertilized egg to cope up with the short supply of males and ensure successful breeding. During mating seaon a number of ants swarm outside their colony to take part or root for for the "marriage fligt" wherein prince and princess ants take off from their colony , mate in the air and fly off to a new place to start a new colony. The only role of male ants is to mate with the queen and they die alone shortly after mating.

Benefits

    Pollinator
    provided by EOL authors
    Ants (Order: Hymenoptera; Family: Formicidae) are highly social insects and are often associated in one way or another with plants. Ants sometimes form mutualistic relationships with plants, which may benefit from ant predation on plant herbivores or seed dispersal by ants. However, there are relatively few examples of pollination by ants. In some cases, ants actually appear to interfere with pollination, sometimes reducing plant reproductive output: they may consume nectar without providing the plant with any reproductive benefit; they are aggressive toward other insects, including pollinators; they can destroy floral tissue; and their secretions may reduce pollen viability. Some plants appear to have evolved means of minimizing ant visitation to their flowers. In one example of ant interference with pollination, the ant, Crematogaster scutellaris, is a major predator of the fig wasp, which forms an obligate pollination mutualism with the Mediterranean fig tree (Genus: Ficus L.)

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