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Sanskrit vamrah, Latin formīca, Greek μύρμηξ mýrmēx, Old Church Slavonic mraviji, Old Irish moirb, Old Norse maurr, Dutch mier.The family Formicidae belongs to the order Hymenoptera, which also includes sawflies, bees, and wasps. Wilson and his colleagues identified the fossil remains of an ant (Sphecomyrma) that lived in the Cretaceous period.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 Cretaceous period, about 99 million years ago, and diversified after the rise of flowering plants.Ants evolved from a lineage within the aculeate wasps, and a 2013 study suggests that they are a sister group of the Apoidea. The specimen, trapped in amber dating back to around 92 million years ago, has features found in some wasps, but not found in modern ants.During the Cretaceous period, a few species of primitive ants ranged widely on the Laurasian supercontinent (the Northern Hemisphere).
Most ant species are omnivorous generalists, but a few are specialist feeders.
Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass.
Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organisation and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves.
Online databases of ant species, including Ant Base and the Hymenoptera Name Server, help to keep track of the known and newly described species.
Ants are distinct in their morphology from other insects in having elbowed antennae, metapleural glands, and a strong constriction of their second abdominal segment into a node-like petiole.