Ant

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Ant

Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.

Myrmecia, often called bulldog ants, bull ants, inch ants, sergeant ants, jumper ants or jack-jumpers, is a genus of ants. Bull ants can grow to over 40 mm (1.6 in) in length, with the smallest species 15 mm (0.59 in) long. Almost all of the approximately 90 species are endemic to Australia, with the single exception of Myrmecia apicalis from New Caledonia, where it is rare.

These ants are well known in Australia for their aggressive behaviour and powerful stings. The ant Myrmecia pyriformis has also been listed as the worlds most dangerous ant by Guinness World Records. The venom of these ants has the potential to induce anaphylactic shock in allergic sting victims. As with most severe allergic reactions, the reaction may be lethal if left untreated.

Bull ants eat small insects, honeydew (a sweet, sticky liquid found on leaves, deposited from various insects), seeds, fruit, fungi, gums, and nectar. Because they mostly live exclusively in bushland, they are rarely exposed to a human-influenced diet. The adult ants mainly eat nectar and honeydew, but the ant larvae are carnivores that eat small insects brought back to them by hunting worker ants. The workers can also regurgitate food back in the nest so other ants can consume it.

The term bull ant is often used in lay language to refer to other common ants which are neither true bull ants nor members of the genus Myrmecia.

Ant

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