• Laboratoire des sols
  • Université de lorraine



Classification (systematic position)
Source : INPN


Animal Kingdom
Embranchement (Phylum) : Arthropoda
Subphylum: Pancrustacea
Class: Hexapod
Subclass: Insecta
Ordre : Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae



Morphological characteristics
Insects with a body divided into 3 distinct parts (head, thorax, abdomen), 3 pairs of fairly long legs, 1 pair of antennae, chewing-type mouthparts. They are organized social insects that are differentiated (polymorphism) according to their function. Asexual workers do not have wings while sexual males and females do. The larvae are white in color.


Life cycle
Anthills can accommodate ants for several years and can contain several thousand individuals. Male and female winged ants fly from May to July in order to reproduce and form a new anthill. After mating the males die and the female loses her wings. The female then becomes the queen of a new colony. To do this, she lays her eggs and cares for her larvae alone, which will become, after the pupa stage, the future workers who will make the colony work. Not all colonies work the same way depending on the species, they can have none, one or more queens. In winter, the activity of ants is reduced.


Ants are omnivores with a diet that changes depending on the season. They can consume for example a lot of caterpillars in summer, seeds and fruits in autumn. Some species can be strict carnivores or seed-eaters.


Natural predators or regulators
Ants are preyed upon by spiders (mainly the winged forms) and birds. For example, the green woodpecker loves nymphs.


Ants are social insects that live mainly in colonies in the ground (anthill) with a nest present under stones, in a dead tree or at the foot of a group of plants.


Interests in the garden
Ants are detritivores that feed on organic waste, insects or dead animals. By digging galleries they contribute to the aeration of the soil. As they also sometimes feed on nymphs, ants are good regulators (like for example moths).


Did you know ?
The groups of flying ants (swarms) that we see from May to July are nuptial flights that allow queens and males to find a suitable place for their reproduction, which will take place on the ground.

When the ants collect the honeydew from the aphids, they participate in their protection, it is said that they milk them.

Last change : 03/04/22
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