School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Life Cycle of an Ant Colony

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  • Founding Stage: after mating, a queen (or queens) starts a new nest and raises her first worker offspring.
  • Growth Stage: the colony grows larger by producing more workers, which perform all tasks except reproduction.
  • Reproductive stage: when the colony reaches a critical size (usually takes several years), it produces new queens and males, which fly away to mate with ants from other colonies and start the next generation.

colony lfe cycle

An ant colony begins in the founding stage. After mating, the queen(s) starts a new nest and raises her first worker offspring. This is the only time in a queen’s life that she does work in addition to laying eggs.

During the growth stage, the colony grows larger by producing more workers. The workers now perform all the colony’s jobs except laying eggs. This period may last for several years.

When the colony grows large enough, it enters the reproductive stage. Now the colony produces new queens and males. These winged adults fly away to mate with ants from other colonies. The queens then start the next generation of colonies. Colonies may reproduce year after year until their queen(s) dies.

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Arizona Ants

 

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Ant Farm, Download PDF

Arizona Ants

 

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.