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Carpenter ant (Camponotus).—(Top two) Grace ThompsonThe National Aubudon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, (bottom two) E.S. Ross
Any member of approximately 10,000 species of the social insect family Formicidae. Ants are found worldwide but are especially common in hot climates. They range from 0.1 to 1 in. (2–25 mm) long and are usually yellow, brown, red, or black. Ants eat both plant and animal substances; some even farm fungi for food, cultivating them in their nests, or milk aphids. Ant colonies consist of three castes (queens, males, and workers, including soldiers) interacting in a highly complex society paralleling that of the honeybees. Well-known ant species are the carpenter ants of North America, the voracious army ants of tropical America, and the stinging fire ant.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ant, visit Britannica.com.