Ants are social insects that produce a colony made of various specialized types of individual ants. Most ants are known as workers, they are wingless, do most of the food foraging, rearing of young, and defend the colony. Eggs are produced by the large queens that have wings until after they have mated. Smaller winged ants are the males. Ants are characterized by having a very narrow, pinched waist and antenna that are bent or elbowed. They are sometimes confused with termites, especially when swarms are produced. However, termites have a broad waist and beaded antenna.
Development of ants involves complete metamorphosis. Eggs are extremely small. The developing larvae are fed by the worker ants and past through several molts before pupation. The pupae do not feed and are immobile, soft, and white. Ant nests are usually underground and colonies can contain tens of thousands of workers. The large carpenter ants build nests in wood, usually wood that is partially decayed. Relatively few ants in Utah form a nest indoors.
Ants feed on a wide variety of different foods. Sugary materials are preferred by some species while others feed on fatty or protein rich foods. Some ants are important predators of insect pests.
Problems with ants often occur when they forage for food indoors during the warmer months. Carpenter ants can cause structural damage. House infesting species can move disease organisms around.
BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR