|Ants: Formica sp. (Pallidefulva group)|
Order Hymenoptera - Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies
Live adult ants and eggs photographed at Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania.
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Ants are distinguished from other insects by the combination of elbowed antennae, a strongly constricted second abdominal segment forming a distinct node-like petiole, a wingless worker caste, and the presence of a metapleural gland. They can sense with organs located on the antennae, which can detect pheromones (single compounds) and hydrocarbons on the outer layer of the body (a set of different compounds). The latter is highly important for the recognition of nestmates from non-nestmates. Also, they communicate with sound in the form of vibrations moving through the ground.
They live in colonies with well-defined castes that typically comprise a worker caste of sterile females and a reproductive caste of winged males and females. (Most queens and male ants (drones) have wings, which they eat after their nuptial flight.
Ant tending aphid farm
Ants "milk" aphids for their sugar-laden secretion: honeydew
Definitions: Myrmecology is the branch of entomology dealing with ants.
Hymenoptera (Latin for membrane wing) is a vast assemblage of insects second only to Coleoptera (beetles) in the number of described species. Hymenoptera number some 115,000 species - 18,000 of them call North America home. Hymenopterans inhabit a wide variety of habitats, and show an incredible diversity in size, behavior, structure and color.
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