How Do Ant Colonies Work?

close up of ants crawling on dirt

Whether you’re dealing with an ant infestation in your home or on your lawn—or you’re simply observing ants on the hunt for food—you might have wondered at some point: how do ant colonies work?

Like humans, ants are social creatures; they live and work together in large, family-like communities called colonies, and each individual ant has their own important job in their society. Isn’t that fascinating? To learn more about the intimate, organized, and complex societal structure within each ant colony, read on.

How Do Ant Colonies Work?

The Societal Structure of Ant Colonies

There are many types of ants, including the Argentine ant, the carpenter ant, the pavement ant, and many, many more.

Each ant in a colony serves their own unique and vitally important role. Here’s a look at each:

The Queen

Each ant colony revolves around its own egg-laying queen, the sole mother of each colony’s brood, which is made up of the offspring of the queen: Her numerous children throughout the eggs, larvae, and pupae stages of their life cycle—and her many sterile female adult “workers.” 

Since the queen serves such an important role in each colony, she can typically live anywhere between 10–15 years.

The Flying Males 

A few winged males and a queen will leave their home colony to create a new nest together once the queen is ready to mate. Upon arrival, the males drop their wings and serve as the first group of workers, while simultaneously breeding with the queen so she may lay eggs that will grow up to be future female worker ants.

The Workers

The female worker ants are, by far, the largest group of ants in the colony.

Each worker ant has a unique and crucial role in the nest society. Some serve as tiny construction and maintenance workers, who build the nest, clean it, and make repairs on any structural damages.

The next important group of worker ants is like the queen’s army or battalion, essentially protecting her “castle.” These defensive ants will ensure the queen and her brood are safe at all costs and will evacuate the colony in the event of an emergency.

There are also foragers and gatherers, who make brave, necessary journeys outside the colony to bring food back that provides the entire colony with the sustenance it needs to survive.

Finally, there are ants that tend to the brood and feed them. Fun fact: the larvae of future worker ants in the brood are actually fed less food than the queen in her larval state. This is to help the queen grow strong for her to mate and lay many eggs during adulthood.

Unpleasant Neighbors

We hope you have a newfound appreciation about the inner workings of each ant nest’s colony. Ant colonies are like a functional, collectivist family who work together to make the colony better.

However, ants tend to venture into places where they’re not so wanted, like in your home! Not only do they try to move in: They will also try to raid your kitchen.

When you’ve got an ant infestation on your hands, you don’t have to worry—we can take care of it. Our Vulcan Termite & Pest Control team has the expert knowledge you need to identify pest problems in your home or on your lawn, and we’ll offer effective solutions for a clean, pest-free home that’s safe for you and your family.

To learn more about our affordable, highly-effective pest control solutions, call us at 205-663-4200 or contact us online today!