Ants have three basic body regions (head, thorax and abdomen), one pair of antennae (which are ‘elbowed’) and three pairs of legs.
Ants are found on all continents except Antarctica, and only a few islands in the world are free of ants. Ants exploit a wide range of food resources either as direct or indirect herbivores, predators and scavengers.
Most species are omnivorous but some are specialised. Several species are attracted to plastics and cause damage to irrigation and electrical installations. Several house fires in northern Australia are believed to have been caused by short-circuiting resulting from ant damage.
Ants are highly social insects and live in colonies ranging in size from a few tens of individuals to over a million individuals, depending on species. Colonies can exist for several years, to decades in some cases. Some colonies remain in one place, while others are mobile armies moving from one food source to another. The colony consists of one to several breeding females (queens), with the remainder consisting of wingless sterile workers. Male ants are only produced seasonally for breeding with new females when new colonies are being started.