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Formicinae - order Hymenoptera  /  Foogle Business


 The Ant  

Insect photography by Alex Wild


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ANTS - any member of the approximately 8,000 species of the insect family Formicinae - order Hymenoptera. Ants occur worldwide but are especially common in hot climates. All ants are social in habit; i.e., they live together in organized colonies, and they range in size from 2 to about 25 millimeters, about 0.08 to 1 inch. Their color is usually yellow, brown, red, or black. A few genera, e.g., Pheidole of North America, have a metallic luster. 





Typically, an ant has a large head and a slender, oval abdomen joined to the thorax, or midsection, by a small waist. The antennae are elbowed. The mouth has two sets of jaws: the outer pair is used for carrying objects such as food and for digging, and the inner pair is used for chewing. Some species have a powerful sting at the tip of the abdomen.



There are generally three castes, or classes: queens, males, and workers. Some species live in the nests of other species as parasites; i.e., the larvae are given food and nourishment by the host workers. Wheeleriella santschii is a parasite in the nests of Monomorium salomonis, the most common ant of northern Africa.

Most ants live in nests, which may be located in the ground or under a rock or built aboveground and made of twigs, sand, or gravel. Carpenter ants -Camponotus - large, black ants common in North America, live in old logs and timbers. Some species live in trees or in the hollow stems of weeds. Tailor, or weaver, ants, found in the tropics of Africa. For example,  Tetramorium, these make nests of leaves and similar materials held together with silk secreted by the larvae. Dolichoderus, a South American genus, glues together bits of animal feces for its nest. The widely distributed pharaoh ant (Monomariumpharaonis), a small yellowish insect living in houses, builds its nest outdoors only in warm climates. Army ants, of the subfamily Dorylinae, are nomadic and notorious for the destruction of plant and animal life in their path. 



The army ants of tropical America (Eciton), for example, travel in columns, eating insects and other invertebrates along the way. Periodically the colony rests for several days while the queen lays her eggs. As the colony travels, the growing larvae are carried along. Habits of the African driver ant (Dorylus) are similar. The fire ant (Sole nopsis saevissima), introduced into Alabama from South America, had spread throughout the southern United States by the mid-1970s. It inflicts a painful sting and is considered a pest because it builds large mounds as nests. Effective, ecologically acceptable methods to control it are being sought.

The life cycle of the ant has four stages—egg, larva, pupa, and adult—and spans a period of 8 to 10 weeks. The queen spends her life laying eggs. The workers are females and do the work of the nest; the larger ones, the soldiers, defend the colony. At certain times of the year, many species produce winged males and queens. They fly into the air, where they mate. The male dies soon afterward, and the fertilized queen establishes a new nest.

The food of ants consists of both plant and animal substances. Certain species, including those of the genus Formica, often eat the eggs and larvae of other ants or those of their own species; other species eat the liquid secretions of plants. The honey ants - Camponotinae, Dolichoderinae, eat the so-called honeydew, a by-product of digestion secreted by certain aphids. The ant usually obtains the liquid by gently stroking the aphid's abdomen with its antennae. Some genera (Leptothorax) eat the honeydew that has fallen onto the surface of a leaf. The so-called Argentine ant (Iridomyrmex humilis) and the fire ant also eat honeydew. Harvester ants (Messor, Pogonomyrmex) store grass, seeds, or berries in the nest; whereas ants of the genus Trachymyrmex of South America eat only fungi, which they cultivate in their nests. The Tes leaf-cutting ant (Atta texana) is a pest that often strips the leaves from plants to provide nourishment for its fungus beds.

The social behavior of the ants, along with that of the honeybees, is the most complex in the insect world. Slave-making ants, which include many species, have a variety of methods for “enslaving” the ants of other species. The queen Bothriomyrmex decapitans of Africa, for example, allows herself to be dragged by Tapinoma ants into their nest. She then bites off the head of the Tapinoma queen and begins laying her own eggs, which are cared for by the “enslaved” Tapinoma workers.


     Ants come in all shapes and colors   


   Genus Polyergus - Formicinae 

  The Ant   


      Hymenoptera Formicidae  -   The Ant  -   An insect related to, or part of a special group of wasps. There are over 15,000 ant-species.            Some ants tend and look aftre aphids; they do this because they can milk the aphid of a sweet juice  -  Hymenoptera Formicidae  -   The Ant  -   An insect related to, or part of a special group of wasps. There are over 15,000 ant-species.   


Hymenoptera Formicinae  -   The Ant  -   An insect related to, or part of a special group of wasps. There are over 15,000 ant-species. The average life expectancy of an ant is 45-60 days. The abdomen, in the metasoma of the ant, contains two stomachs. One stomach holds food that it uses itself and the second is used to store food that it will share with the rest of the colony. Ants occur in almost all land habitats, are 0.05–25 cm long, and live together in colonies. A colony consists of wingless sterile female workers and a smaller number of fertile males and females that are usually produced by a single queen. The young males and females fly from the nest to mate, after which the males die and the young queens found new colonies. Ant societies range from simple groups of a few individuals to large complex nests comprising millions of ants and sometimes containing other insects taken as slaves to work in the colony - Polyergus Rufescens - The Slaver Ant 

Some ants have stings; others secrete burning acids, formic acid,  as a defence



From perhaps only one or two kinds, it is estimated that they have now evolved, making up between 10 - 20,000 different species of ants. Other than bacteria, this is the most diversified genus and perhaps the most successful of all macro-species, along with the Termite.


Some ants live in and eat rotten wood, like termites. The Army ant  -  Ecitron Burchelli  - does not have a static home, as it is always on the run, traveling in very large groups of up to 750,000 individuals, bull-dozing their way through anything in front of them, searching for food. At night they make temporary bivouacs sometimes out of other living ants, that all hold hands together.



The ant is not a parasite.

Parasite   -   An organism living in or on another organism of a different species, called the host, from which it obtains food and protection. Many parasites have complex life cycles, with one or more intermediate hosts, of different species, supporting them during their development. The study of parasites - parasitology - is of importance in medicine since many parasites, such as bacteria, fungi, either cause or transmit disease. Many plants are either partly or completely parasitic.

What is a Species   -  A unit of classification of animals and plants. Individuals of the same species / genus can breed among themselves, producing fertile offspring that resemble the parents. Some species are divided into subspecies and varieties. Breeds of domestic animals and cultivated varieties of plants have been developed by man and are derived from wild species. All breeds of domestic dog, for instance, belong to the same species—Canis familiaris—and can breed together.




     The jaws open and close in a sideways motion like a pair of scissors, and are very powerful, and there are as many variations of ant-jaw as there are different kinds of ants.    


     SOLDIER ANT - The jaws open and close in a sideways motion like a pair of scissors, and are very powerful, and there are as many variations of ant-jaw as there are different kinds of ants.   


Worker Ant


Formic acid - methanoic acid symbolized by HCOOH -   A colorless corrosive liquid, containing fatty acids and having a pungent smell. It is used in textile finishing and chemical manufacture. Its name comes from the Latin formica, which means ant, and whose sting / bite secretes formic acid.

    Ants get in your pants   

 The Ant  

The ant is an insect, and has six legs like all insects. There are three types of ants in each nest, the queen, the sterile female, or the workers, and the males. The females do all the work and the male ants only serve one purpose, to mate with future queens. The queen grows to adulthood, mates, and then spends the rest of her life laying eggs. A colony may have only one queen, or there may be many queens depending on the species and size of the colony. Ants have been successfully surviving on the Earth for more than 100 million years and are found almost everywhere on the planet. 


Ants. If ALL of the Bug-Life, that is Insects, Beetles, Spiders etc, on Earth were weighed, their weight would be FOUR times greater than the weight of ALL of Humans on the Planet. 20% of all Fauna is made up of Ants.


   Western Harvester Ant   

Ants build many different types of nests / habitat. Many ants build uncomplicated little mounds out of dirt or sand. Others use small sticks, combined with dry soils to make stronger mounds, that can offer shelter from rain or wind. The Western Harvester ant makes an inconspicuous mound on the surface, but then tunnels up to five meters straight down to live and hibernate during winter. 

Ant entrances / tunnels consist of many off-shoots leading to chambers connected by more tunnels. The ant uses these various chambers for things like, nurseries, food storage, gardens, resting spaces for the worker ants, and escape routes. As the ants work their way through this labyrinth, they give off a communal / collective scent that is particular to any one nest. This tells or communicates to  the home-ants that they are in their own nest, and to strangers that they are not.  As they forage outside, if they find food they will mark the way back with a scent trail. This ant-scent is a chemical called a pheromone.



  The Egg, the Larva, the Pupa, the Adult  

Again like all insects, the ant has four distinct growing stages, the egg, larva, pupa and the adult. 


Ant larvae


They even move eggs and larvae up and down the nest to control environmental warmth,  caused by outside temperatures. Ants are habitually clean and tidy insects. Some worker ants take on the task of carrying the rubbish from the nest and putting it outside, in a special dump



The biggest ant is the queen and can be many times bigger than her subjects. Her main role in life is to lay eggs which the worker ants diligently look after. The worker ants are sterile, they forage for food, look after the young, and defend the nest from unwanted visitors and raiders. The worker ants have evolved to be so organized that they keep the eggs and larvae in different groups, in different chambers, according to their age. 









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Formicinae - order Hymenoptera  /  Foogle Business


 The Ant  

Insect photography by Alex Wild


 Last-Modified: 09/20/20 13:28                                                           © Copyright 2000 - 2020 not a Website - A Day Out                                           " LEARN  MORE,  BE  MORE "   









Roy G Symonds BA [Law]