Common cosmopolitan foraging terragen social insects of the family Formicidae, order Hymenoptera. Some 2,500 baseline terragen species were known on Old Earth. They appeared during the Cretaceous and seem to have reached their maximum abundance in the early or middle Tertiary. Most are small insects, and they live in colonies of several thousand to many million individuals, depending on the species. There is a rigid cast system, with a fertile queen and short-lived winged males, and the infertile (but technically female) workers and soldiers. Like most Hymenoptera, the front part of the abdomen forms a narrow stalk, called the waist, or pedicel, that attaches to the thorax. The head has two bent antennae, used both as organs of touch and as chemosensory organs. In most species there are two compound eyes. The life cycle begins as a soft, legless, white larva which must be fed and carried by the workers.
During the early Information Age ants were widely studied for clues regarding software, artificial intelligence, emergent behavior, and microbot design and programming. They were less popular as bioagents, although during the Interplanetary period several attempts at partial provolve were made. Complete provolve via sentient symbiotic nanite prosthesis was achieved several times during the late Interplanetary and Nanotech ages, and again during the early and late Federation period. However, ant provolves proved difficult in ant-human interactions; even with biochip enhancement the difference in consciousness was too great. Most eventually opted for their own cultures and civilizations in the Utopia Sphere, in Metasoft Version Tree space (they found the vecs easier to relate to than humans), the Zoeific Biopolity, or in the outer regions away from mainstream galactic civilization.
As with many terrestrial arthropods, baseline and space-adapted non-provolve ants in contrast formed and still form an important role in the ecology of most biohabitats. Thousands of new subspecies and species have emerged through genetic drift in isolated orbitals, or been geneered in the thousands of years since the first simple biospheres were established in low Earth and cislunar orbit during the Information Age.
Contrary to popular belief, Vedokiklek are not ant provolves, although they do contain some measure of formicid genome.