Queen Ant Lesson for Kids: Facts, Lifespan & Size

Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

A queen ant is very important within an ant colony, because she has a job that no one else can do. What is it, and how can you tell which ant is queen? Read on to find out.

A Very Busy Insect

Have you ever dropped a crumb of food, only to see it being carried away moments later by ants? Ants have the reputation of being some of the most organized and hard-working insects around. They hurry busily about with good reason. Ants usually live in huge, bustling ''cities'' and must tend to their powerful leader: the queen ant. What, exactly, is a queen ant and why is she so important? Join us as we take a closer look at this insect that rules the roost.

Ants are often bustling busily about

Ant Colonies

Ants live in busy communities known as colonies. Depending on the type, there can be up to hundreds of thousands of ants all living in one colony. Within their community, there are three kinds of ants: workers, males and a very important queen ant. Worker ants do exactly what their name suggests - work for the others and for the colony. Male ants will mate with future queen ants. And the queen ant has a job that belongs to her alone: she lays all the eggs.

The Life of a Queen Ant

A queen ant begins her life as a winged female ant. On certain days of the year, winged females and males fly together in a swarm to mate. For the male, this marks the end of life, as he dies after mating. For the female, life is just beginning as the new queen of a colony.

Winged future queen ant before mating
queen ant

There is now a sense of urgency for the newly crowned queen to build a nest. She tears off her wings and scrambles to dig her new underground home. Many new queens are eaten by predators before they can accomplish this.

If she succeeds in digging her nest, the new queen can now lay her first batch of eggs. This important moment marks the beginning of a whole new ant colony. The first batch of eggs will be only worker ants. Workers are female ants that will not be able to reproduce, or have babies. Their lifetime jobs will be to feed the queen and tend to babies, as well as work on the colony.

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