Most of the common ant species breed in the same way. All ants in the colonies are females to begin with, but only the Queen and breeding females have the ability to mate. The male ants, called drones, along with the breeding females are born with wings, and do nothing throughout their life except eat. At least, until the time for mating comes. At this time, all the breeding ants in the colony are carried outside (save for the queen) where other colonies of similar species are doing the same. Then, all the winged breeding ants take flight. Mating occurs in flight and the males die shortly afterward. The females, those that survive, land and find a suitable place to begin a colony. There, they chew off their own wings and begin to lay eggs, which they care for. The first workers to hatch are weak and smaller than later workers, but they begin to serve the colony immediately. They enlarge the nest, forage for food and care for the other eggs. This is how a new colony starts.













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Ants develop by complete metamorphosis, passing through larval and pupal stages before they become adults. The larval stage is particularly helpless - for instance it lacks legs entirely - because it does not need to care for itself. The difference between queens and workers, and between different castes of workers when they exist, is determined by feeding in the larval stage. Food is given to the larvae by a process called trophallaxis in which an ant regurgitates food previously held in its crop for communal storage. This is also how adults distribute food amongst themselves. Larvae and pupae need to be kept at fairly constant temperatures to ensure proper development, and so are often moved around various brood chambers within the colony.

Above Images Are From The USDA



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