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There are thousands of species of ants found all over the world and in just about every type of land environment. Many species are found in rain forests. The science of studying ants is called myrmecology.

These common social insects live in colonies (groups of related ants). Each colony consists of:

Ants exhibit complex behavior; some ants build intricate nests, some are fierce warriors, some collect and store seeds (harvester ants), some capture slaves, and some farm fungi (leaf-cutter ants).

Anatomy: Ants, like all insects, have jointed legs, three body parts (the head, thorax and abdomen), a pair of antennae, and a hard exoskeleton. The exoskeleton is made up of a material that is very similar to our fingernails. Ants range in color from yellow to brown to red to black.

Some ants have a stinger and some can even inject poisonous acid from the stinger (the stinger is at the tip of the abdomen, the rear body segment). Ants can also bite using their jaws (mandibles). Ants range in size from about 0.08 inch (2 mm) to up to about 1 inch (25 mm) long.

Life Cycle: The life cycle of the ant consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Fertilized eggs produce female ants (queens, workers, or soldiers); unfertilized eggs produce male ants.

Classification: Class Insecta (insects), Order Hymenoptera (ants and wasps - insects with a waist), Family Formicidae (over 8,000 species of ants).

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