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Sanskrit vamrah, Latin formīca, Greek μύρμηξ mýrmēx, Old Church Slavonic mraviji, Old Irish moirb, Old Norse maurr, Dutch mier.
The family Formicidae belongs to the order Hymenoptera, which also includes sawflies, bees, and wasps. Wilson and his colleagues identified the fossil remains of an ant (Sphecomyrma) that lived in the Cretaceous period.
More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified.
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 mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of "workers", "soldiers", or other specialised groups.
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 99 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants.
Many human cultures make use of ants in cuisine, medication, and rituals.
Some species are valued in their role as biological pest control agents.
More than 12,000 species are currently known (with upper estimates of the potential existence of about 22,000) (see the article List of ant genera), with the greatest diversity in the tropics.
Taxonomic studies continue to resolve the classification and systematics of ants.
Their ability to exploit resources may bring ants into conflict with humans, however, as they can damage crops and invade buildings.