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Ants evolved from a lineage within the aculeate wasps, and a 2013 study suggests that they are a sister group of the Apoidea. The specimen, trapped in amber dating back to around 92 million years ago, has features found in some wasps, but not found in modern ants.
During the Cretaceous period, a few species of primitive ants ranged widely on the Laurasian supercontinent (the Northern Hemisphere).
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.
Sanskrit vamrah, Latin formīca, Greek μύρμηξ mýrmēx, Old Church Slavonic mraviji, Old Irish moirb, Old Norse maurr, Dutch mier.
These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study.Ants occupy a wide range of ecological niches and exploit many different food resources as direct or indirect herbivores, predators and scavengers.