Yes, ants are insects. In fact, they’re known to be the most numerous and successful insects in the world. They have more than 10,000 known species and a population of around 10-100,000 trillion.
In this article, we’ll understand why ants are insects as we discuss the following:
- Definition of insects and their characteristics
- Why ants are insects
- What type of insects are ants
What Are Insects?
Insects refer to the members of the class Insecta, the largest class of the phylum Arthropoda. With around a million species, they represent half of all known living animals. They live in every possible environment from cold glaciers to scorching volcanoes. 
Like other taxonomic groups, insects are classified based on shared characteristics. To begin with, insects are members of the broader group of arthropods. This means they feature the following base characteristics: 
- Invertebrates: Arthropods are invertebrates. They don’t have bones or cartilage.
- Outer Skeletons: Arthropods have an outer skeleton called the exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is rigid and helps support and protect their bodies.
- Jointed Legs: Arthropods have jointed legs. These legs allow them to move despite their rigid exoskeletons.
Insects are then set apart from arthropods through the following:
3 Main Body Part Segments
Insects have segmented bodies divided into three main parts. These parts include the head, thorax, and abdomen.
The head is specialized for sensory input. It contains the eyes, mouth parts, and antennae.
The thorax specializes in locomotion. It contains the legs and for some ants, wings.
Lastly, the abdomen contains the heart and other organs. It’s used for digestion, respiration, reproduction, and excretion.
3 Pairs of Legs
Insects differ from other arthropods in the number of their legs. For example, insects have 6 legs while arachnids (spiders) have 8.
Adult Insects Grow Wings
While there are a few exceptions, most adult insects grow to have two pairs of wings. These wings are generally functional and allow for flight.
Insects are the only arthropods that can fly.
Why Are Ants Insects?
Ants are insects because they own all the necessary characteristics.
Ants are arthropods. They have no internal bone structures but instead, have chitin-based exoskeletons. They also have jointed legs.
Furthermore, ants feature the following insect-specific characteristics:
Ants Have 3 Main Body Part Segments
The ant body consists of three main segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Each segment has specializations that allow ants to function.
The head is the forwardmost segment of the ant’s body. It contains important parts such as the antennae. These antennae are extremely important sense organs for ants. They allow ants to navigate, find food and communicate.
Mandibles, which ants use to process food, are also found on the head.
The thorax or middle segment handles locomotion. This segment contains the ant’s legs and sometimes, its wings. It also contains thorax muscles that control these locomotor structures.
It is the thorax that allows ants to move around.
The abdomen is the rearmost and last functional segment of the ant’s body. It contains important body parts including sense receptors, the heart, and reproductive organs.
It also contains parts of the ant’s digestive and excretory system.
Ants Have 6 Legs
Ants have 3 pairs of jointed legs attached to the thorax. These legs are strong, flexible, and ideal for moving with an exoskeleton. They allow ants to move at fast speeds and climb most surfaces.
Some Ants Have Wings
Many don’t know that ants can grow wings and fly. That’s because most of the ants we see are flightless workers. However, in many ant species, reproductive ants grow wings. These ants include drones and young queens which take part in swarming.
To learn more, see our article on ant wings.
What Type of Insects Are Ants?
Ants are eusocial insects from the family Formicidae under the order Hymenoptera.
As hymenopterans they have the following characteristics:
- Narrow waists
- Thin membranous wings
- Biting-sucking mouthparts
Additionally, as formicids they have the following distinguishing features:
- Peduncle located between thorax and abdomen
- Elbowed antennae
- Wingless workers and winged swarmers
Are Ants Insects or Animals?
Ants are insects and animals. Insects are under the broader animal group along with other multicellular, eukaryotic organisms.
Learn more by reading our article on ants as animals.
To summarize, ants are insects. They’re animals that possess the characteristics under the class Insecta. They are arthropods that have 3 body part segments, 6 legs, and sometimes wings.