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).
Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called "drones" and one or more fertile females called "queens".
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.
Their ability to exploit resources may bring ants into conflict with humans, however, as they can damage crops and invade buildings.
Some species, such as the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), are regarded as invasive species, establishing themselves in areas where they have been introduced accidentally. It has been hypothesised that a Proto-Indo-European word *morwi- was used, cf.
By the Oligocene and Miocene, ants had come to represent 20–40% of all insects found in major fossil deposits.
Of the species that lived in the Eocene epoch, around one in 10 genera survive to the present.
Many human cultures make use of ants in cuisine, medication, and rituals.
Some species are valued in their role as biological pest control agents.
Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth.