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Mating, Reproduction, And Life Span, Labor Management, Defense And Offense, Communication, Ants And The Ecosystemdevelopment Social structure and behavior

Ants are insects in the family Formicidae in the order Hymenoptera, which also includes bees and wasps. The body of ants is divided into three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen. The head bears two long, flexible antennae (for touch and chemical detection), two eyes, and a pair of powerful mandibles (jaws) for feeding and defense. Ants have three pairs of long legs that end with a claw. They are attached to the thorax, which is connected by a narrow petiole, or waist, to the segmented abdomen. At the tip of the abdomen are the reproductive organs and the stinging organ (in some species). Ants live in highly successful social communities called colonies, and are found worldwide in cool scrublands, hot deserts, inner cities, and tropical rain forests. Their nests are constructed underground or in tree-top leaf nests woven with silken thread.

Ants weigh 0.28–1.41 oz (1–5 mg), depending on the species. In 1994, 9,500 species of ants in 300 genera were recognized, and it is expected that many more species will be added to this total.

Mandibles are elongated, saw-toothed, blade-like pinchers that snap together sideways, allowing for the efficient capture of living prey and providing excellent defense against predators. Females of ground-dwelling species of ants secrete an antibiotic substance, which they smear throughout the nest, thus protecting the entire colony from the fungi and bacteria that thrive in damp, decaying vegetation.

Ants live in eusocial communal societies where, typically, members are clearly segregated into breeding and working castes. In the colony, several generations of adults reside together, and the young are fed, nurtured, and protected deep within the mound. A typical colony of the Pheidole tepicana comprises the queen, the males, and six castes of workers.

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