Types of Ants
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Types of Insects
Along with bees and wasps, ants belong to the order Hymenoptera.
Unlike bees and wasps, which are further divided into multiple families and genera, ants are represented by one family, Formicidae.
In the insect world, names can sometimes be confusing. The Mutillidae family, more commonly known as Velvet Ants, are actually wasps with hairy bodies. Females do not have wings and can easily be mistaken for Formicidae species.
While wasps and bees can also be categorized into solitary and social groupings that describe their living and reproductive strategies, all of the different types of ants are classifies as social insects that live in colonies. The so called solitary ants are really colony members, out scouting for food sources.Ants are an ubiquitous insect family, holding the fascination of people around the world. Literally tens of thousands of books covering the social lives of ants can be found in all the world's written languages.
These many volumes lay out the simple to complex ways that different ant species organize themselves. Like the social wasps and bees, in their simplest form, ant colonies consist of three types of ants: queens (the reproducing females), workers (non-reproducing females) and drones (reproducing males).
The picture on the left shows a winged, queen carpenter ant that has left the colony to start another colony.
Carpenter ants create potential pest problems around the United States because they nest in wood, including wood around the house.
Fire ants (Solenopsis), a group of aggressive, stinging ants, pose problems throughout the Southern United States. They build ground nests with dome-shaped tops. Inadvertently stepping on, or near, a nest often results in multiple bites for the unsuspecting person or animal.
Another large group of ants, such as Cornfield Ants, Pharaoh Ants, Lawn Ants and Odorous House Ants, among others, pose problems in and around the house. While all ants bite, generally bites from this group of ants do not pose medical problems.
Identifying the specific ant species causing problems is necessary for proper eradication. Local agricultural extension services offer advice on the types of ant species common in any given area.
© 2008-2013. Patricia A. Michaels