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It’s amazing to think that an entire ant colony is one big family, started by the queen. Every member will undergo a metamorphosis process, going from egg to larva, pupa and finally adult, and it is the purpose of the colony to ensure that as many ants as possible go through this process. On top of that, the queen only mates during a very small time window in her life, and then goes on laying eggs indefinitely.
Queens are also able to control the gender of their offspring, with all the workers being infertile females. Male ants play an exclusively reproductive role, and they are always winged. When a colony is large enough, the queen will give birth to male and female winged ants, which will set out and start new nests which will eventually grow into new colonies.
Some species will have queen ants that can live for a very long time, especially when compared with the workers, with one queen of the Lasius niger ant living in captivity for 29 years. Comparatively, urban Pharaoh ant queens will live for only three months.
Colonies go through several stages themselves. They are started after a winged male and female mate. The two lose their wings shortly after, and the male dies, while the female starts to dig out an initial nest and lay eggs. During this initial phase, the young queen will take care of everything, from foraging to tunneling and rearing the young, but once the first generation of workers is fully grown, the queen will start to focus solely on reproduction, and the workers will take over the tasks of day to day life.
Next comes the ergonomic stage, when the purpose of the colony is to expand. This stage can last everywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the species. Once the colony is large enough, it will enter its reproductive stage, and the queen will start birthing reproductive winged ants.
If you’ve seen large swarms of ants flying about, now you know where they come from – a mature nearby colony. For most ant species, this simply means that you will be bothered for a few hours/days by flying ants, but if you are dealing with carpenter ants, it means that there may be a serious infestation in your home. Carpenter ants can do as much damage as termites, so you need to keep an eye out for them. If you suspect that you have a carpenter ant infestation, contact us today and we will come and perform an inspection to make sure your home is safe.