Without A Queen Entire Ant Colonies Would Die
You don’t need an expert entomologist to tell you that queen ants are important to an ant colony. But how important? What would happen if a Queen died? How do queen ants often die? Although it goes without saying that queen ants are important, most people are not aware of what happens when queen ants die. Queen ants have only one job, and that is to reproduce. So how would that lead to the death of every single individual ant within a queenless colony? Well, of course not all ants within a colony die immediately upon a queen’s death. But without new colony members, an ant colony will disappear within a short amount of time.
Queen ants can produce millions of workers. Queen ants could be considered the hardest workers within colonies, and queen ants are built for the labor. Queens are more than twice the physical size of the smallest workers in a colony, and they are significantly larger than the largest workers. You have probably noticed that ant bodies are divided into three different segments. There is the head, the second segment and then the third segment. The queen’s third segment is much larger than her second segment. This makes sense given that workers originate form this segment of a queen’s body. Ant colonies can contain multiple queens, and sometimes extra queens are considered to be a form of colony infestation. Argentine ant colonies, for example, can contain hundreds of queens. However, one single queen is considered the norm for many ant species, such as carpenter ants.
As you could have accurately guessed, ants do not live long lives compared to humans. So how can an ant colony die out if one single queen ant dies? Queen ants actually live much longer than their offspring. Many queen ant species live to be thirty years old, or more. Surprisingly, ant workers can cause the destruction of colonies in which they belong. This happens when worker ants kill off numerous queens. Much of the time, the workers are aiming to kill all queens except for one single queen. Worker ants often seem to prefer colonies ruled by one single queen. However, sometimes the workers will lose themselves in the violence and end up killing all queens in a colony. In these cases, the colony soon dies-out due to an insurrection gone wrong.
Do you think that worker ants prefer to operate under one queen as opposed to multiple queens because colonies with one queen operate more efficiently?