Order : Hymenoptera ; Linnaeus, 1758
Distribution : Worldwide
Size : 1 – 25 mm ( 1/25 – 1In )
More than 12,000 species of ants have been formally described, with the majority of these being found in tropical regions. They can be found on all the large land masses around the world, except those close to the frozen poles. They are eusocial, with their populations being split into sterile female workers, fertile male drones, and fertile females known as queens. Somes ant colonies can number into the millions.
Ants often form associations with other insects, especially aphids and meals bugs which are effectively farmed for their honeydew secretions. This relationship is beneficial for both parties, however as in return for the sugar-rich liquids, the creatures concerned are given almost total protection from other predators. Consequently, the presence of the relevant ant species can lead to serious pest outbreaks on some agricultural crops. In many areas though, the ants that do not farm aphids are welcomed in the fields as they are extremely efficient at seeking out and killing every kind of small creature they can find and overcome.