Ants are a kind of insect that are very social. They are classified in the insect order Hymenoptera, which also includes the bees and wasps. There are about 12,000 species of ant known to science.
Ants are social insects, and may form colonies that range in size from a few dozen individuals living in small natural cavities, to huge colonies of millions of individuals in highly organized colonies which may occupy large territories. Colonies consist mostly of sterile (non-breeding) wingless females.
Within most colonies, there may be several body shapes of ant forming castes, or types. The main kinds of caste are "workers", "soldiers", "drones" and "queens".
Workers are the main type of ant commonly seen. As their name suggests they do most of the work in a colony. They build or dig any structures needed. They forage for food. They take care of the colony's eggs and young. All the workers are female.
Soldiers are usually larger and may have overdeveloped jaws, which they use to defend the colony against predators or intruders. All the soldiers are female.
Drones are male ants. They only serve to mate with the queen. Only very rarely do they serve other purposes.
Queen ants are fertile females. They lay eggs, and do very little else within a colony.
Ant colonies are sometimes described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony. Any individual ant becomes essentially disposable within the colony. Even queens can usually be easily replaced.