You probably have heard about queen bees (no, not Beyonce) and queen wasps. But have you heard of queen ants? Ants live in colonies and every member has a role in the community. If your home or yard are attacked by ants, and you see one bigger than the rest, that might be the queen.
In this post, we talk about queen ants, how they are made, their role in the colony and more. Keep reading and by the end of the post, you will know more about them and will be able to distinguish the queen from the worker ants.
Do All Ants Have a Queen?
Yes. No matter the ant species, all colonies have a queen. Some, usually larger ones, may even have more than one.
Does the Queen Control the Colony?
No, the royalty in an ant nest doesn’t give out orders. Its main role is to reproduce so there are enough workers to support and contribute to the colony. In fact, the workers decide which tasks to do by themselves. Whatever they prefer, that’s what they do.
How Long Do Queen Ants Live?
The ant royals can live for decades. Scientists have found out that queen ants can live up to ten or even fifteen years in favourable environments. In a laboratory, they can live up to 30 years. Unlike the queen, the males live just about a week. Female workers can reach about a year and then they die.
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How Are Queen Ants Born?
When the eggs hatch, three types of ants begin to mature – worker females, males, and the queen. These three types of ants’ life cycles go on to be a bit different. The metamorphosis of a queen ant can take from several weeks to several months to complete.
Depending on the species, the process of creating the queen varies. Since there are over 12 000 species, you can imagine how many different methods there are. For example, the harvester ants choose their queen while it is still an egg. Other species feed one of the larvae with more royal jelly than the rest and that one grows up to be the queen of the colony.
What Do Queen Ants Look Like?
The anatomy of the queen ant isn’t that much different than that of the workers’. You will rarely spot a queen ant outside of the nest because she spends most of her life laying eggs. If the queen is out of the nest, that means it is mating season and she’s on the prowl for a mate.
So, the queen is bigger than the males and the workers but has most of the same body parts as them. She has a larger gaster which contains her reproductive organs. Furthermore, the queens have wings which are torn off after they mate.
Also, the queen’s large thorax makes almost half of its body. So that’s another distinctive feature that you can use to distinguish the workers from the royalty.
What Happens to Ants When the Queen Dies
Unfortunately for the ants’ colony, when the queen dies, the worker ants can only survive for a few months. The colony dies off rather quickly because the workers cannot reproduce. When there’s no queen to lay eggs, the workers die off and there are no new ones hatched to replace them.
How to Kill Queen Ants?
If you spot a colony of ants or an anthill in your yard, look for one specimen that is larger than the rest or has wings. That is usually the queen. However, if you see the workers only, doing something drastic to the anthill can lead to the queen’s death is the best option to exterminate the colony. That being said, there’s no guarantee that you’ll manage to kill her because she may not be in the nest.
One thing you can do to destroy an anthill is to pour boiling water inside of it. That should destroy a number of workers and possibly the queen.
If you spot an ant that looks like it may be the queen, you can kill it easily.
Facts About Queen Ants
- Regardless of the species, the queen ant will do anything in her power to be the last one standing, in case the colony is threatened or attacked.
- Most ants you see anywhere are female workers.
- Despite the royal title, a queen ant isn’t the monarch of the colony. The only two services that the workers perform for her are to clean her and bring her food. She doesn’t give orders to the rest of the colony but is also doing everything for the common good.
Having an ant colony near your home can almost guarantee you they will come inside if they find a way in and source of food. Ants can be a major annoyance because they can fit through virtually the slightest almost invisible to you crack in the wall.
Ants can swarm your kitchen counter, table, potted plants, and even enter cupboards and packaged food.
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Sometimes only some of the workers get inside your home to forage for food. That makes it harder to distinguish where they come from. If there’s an entire colony, you can easily follow it to see their entryway.
If you cannot deal with an ants problem, you can seek professional ant extermination services.
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