Ants are some of the most interesting insects in the world. If you know anything about ants, then you’re probably aware that their colonies have hundreds, if not thousands, of workers and only one queen. This might leave you wondering, how exactly do ants choose their queen and what does she do for the colony?

Learning more about the process of choosing a queen ant and her role in the colony will help you better understand these common, fascinating insects.

How Are Queen Ants Chosen?

Image via Flickr by treegrow

At one time, it was believed that queen ants were chosen in much the same way as bees, which nurture a common bee with royal jelly so it will grow into a queen. However, scientists now understand that queen ants are born, not made.

The primary motivation of ants is to grow their colony. Once the colony has reached a certain size, the ants will start expanding to new locations, and this is when a queen ant is created. The queen of the current colony will start laying both queen and worker eggs that, when fully grown, will venture out and form new colonies.

While this is the basic method for choosing a queen ant, the process can vary among ant species.

The Role of the Queen Ant

Now that you know how queen ants are chosen, you need to learn about their role within the ant colony. Although not all ant species are based on a queen, those that are will rely on the queen ant for their long-term prospects.

A queen ant’s primary role is to expand the colony. Once she has reached maturity, a queen ant will mate and begin laying eggs. Over their lifespan, which can be as long as 15 years, a queen ant may lay millions of eggs, more than enough to populate their own colony and found others.

Identifying a Queen Ant

Because queen ants are the foundation of ant colonies, identifying and destroying the queen is a crucial component of ridding your home of an ant infestation. This means you need to understand the identifying characteristics of a queen ant.

The most identifiable characteristic of a queen ant is size. Queen ants are much larger than normal ants, particularly in the thorax. Also, queen ants have wings, though this may not be helpful, as many types of ants are able to fly. Finally, you should consider the behavior of other ants. Worker ants will usually crawl over and around their queen, so if you see a large group of ants whose activity is focused on one ant, you’ve probably found the queen.

Ask a Pest Expert

Ant society is very interesting and complex, particularly when viewed from afar. However, when your home experiences an ant infestation, it can be extremely frustrating. Take care of your ant problems quickly and effectively by working with a pest control expert.

A pest control professional is an invaluable tool when you need to keep insects out of your home. They can find where the ants are infiltrating your property and can even help you identify the colony’s queen.