Ant colonies can become very complex, and certain ant species have numerous eccentric functions within the colony. For the most part however, an ant colony consists of the queen, the workers, and the reproductives.
It all starts with the queen, whose sole purpose is to spawn new colony members. A new queen starts out as a swarmer, or a member of the reproductive caste, in a more mature colony. The queen, in its swarmer stage, has wings, and it and a male partner will fly out of a colony along with thousands of other swarmers. Most of these swarmers will die, either being eaten by predators, or unable to find a suitable location to start a colony. A select few however will succeed. They will mate once, the male will die, and the new queen will dig a new nest. In this initial stage of the colony, the queen will do all the work, from birthing a new brood, to digging out the initial tunnels of the colony, and finding the food needed for the colony to survive. As the first brood reaches maturity, the responsibilities of the queen are reduced, and it will be solely tasked with birthing new workers.
From here the workers start to take on the various tasks of the colony. They will forage for food, rear the young, and spread out the colony. The colony will continue to grow as more and more workers are birthed. Eventually, the colony reaches the stage of maturity. At this point, the queen will start birthing reproductive ants, and they too will fly out and establish new colonies in the area.
This is the lifecycle of an ant colony, and how new colonies are started. However, when we’re talking about ant infestations, we mean one of two things – ants are foraging inside the home, or ants have started a colony inside the home. In the first situation, a scout ant will be out looking for food, and it will find it in a building. This type of infestation is short lived, and if you remove their access to food sources, the ants will simply go look somewhere else. It is the second situation that requires the attention of a pest control professional. In any case, if you spot ants in the home, it’s best to call over a pro to perform an inspection and ensure that the colony is not located indoors. If you would like to know more, or if you suspect that you have an ant infestation, contact us today.