Understanding Ants

Ants are social 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 out of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and a distinctive node-like structure that forms a slender waist.

Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of "workers", "soldiers", or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called "drones" and one or more fertile females called "queens". The colonies sometimes are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony. (from

Ants - Nature's Secret Power
They have inhabited our planet for millions of years, and yet no living creature seems more alien to us. In this film Bert Hoelldobler brings us face-to-face with the mysterious world of these social insects.

Planet Ant - Life inside the Colony
Ant colonies are one of the wonders of nature - complex, organised and mysterious. Presented by George McGavin and Adam Hart, this film reveals the secret, underground world of the ant colony.

Lord of the Ants
This film profiles Harvard professor Edward Osborne Wilson who is an acclaimed advocate for ants, biological diversity, and the controversial extension of Darwinian ideas to human society.

Empire of the Desert Ants
This film looks at how a new honey ant queen wages an intense battle for survival as she attempts to build and defend her empire.

City of Ants
How do millions of simple creatures form a collective brain, make decisions and move like a single being? Enter the secret world of the most perfect society... the Superorganism.

Grasshopper & Ants
The story of La Fontaine tells that the grasshopper spent the summer singing and dancing while the ant was working to do her house and to gather food. This film shows us how these small beings really are.

Ant Attack
Documentary about the world of the African driver ant, a sinister army of 20 million sisters which thrives by ravaging the forest, killing everything it can pin down.

Related Links
Ant - wikipedia
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera.
The Company of Ants and Bees
Documentary in which Professor James Gould argues that ants and bees have important things to tell us about human society and its future chances.
Ants, bees and brains
Professor Nigel Franks demonstrates how ants and bees can solve problems beyond the scope of their individual members - much as brains are more sophisticated than their individual neurons.
Life in the Undergrowth
This is a BBC documentary series presented by David Attenborough, exploring the diversity of terrestrial invertebrates, their evolution and their private lives.
The Superorganism
The evolution from organism to superorganism has been the major transition between levels of biological organization, easiest to penetrate and understand.