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Queen Ant Size: How Big is a Queen Ant?

Queen Ant Size: How Big is a Queen Ant

There is no single size for a queen ant, as there are many species of ants. Generally, queen ants can get as big as 8 millimeters or about 0.31 inches. Some can grow as big as 52 millimeters or two inches.

Despite the queen ants’ varying sizes, the queen ant is the biggest ant in each colony. It is also not uncommon for queen ants to be the longest living member of a colony.

Why Are Queen Ants Bigger?

Queen Ant

Queen ants are royalty. Once a queen has established a colony, the worker ants need to pamper her. They would give her food and dispose of her waste.

Queen ants are special. They are the ones that make it possible for the ant colony to grow and thrive. As such, the queen and gets special treatment. It gets the best food so it can lay thousands of eggs in its lifetime.

How Can you Tell If An Ant Is A Queen?

A queen ant looks the same as the other ants in its colony or species. However, young queen ants have wings. Despite this, an ant with wings is not necessarily a queen.

The easiest method to identify a queen ant is through its size. Queens have a larger thorax. The thorax is the middle section of the ant.

Queens have a larger thorax because the wings are connected to that part of the body. Some queens that have dropped their wings may still have their wing attachment. The area where the wings used to be now has scars.

Size can be misleading sometimes. On some occasions, a worker ant may grow bigger than its counterparts, and it is easy for somebody to mistake it for a queen.

Do Queen Ants Die FromTheir Own Colony?

Queen Ant

Yes, this is possible. Many people think that there is only one queen in each colony. It does not always start this way.

Oftentimes, an ant colony starts out with only one queen. These queens will produce many worker ants to make the colony strong. This process is cooperative, and it increases the likely hood of the colony survivingin its first year. 

The queen ants, however, will not live together for so long. Only one has to reign. Soon, some workers will slaughter all the queens until only one remain.

The final outcome is that only one queen remains. Sometimes, all the queens die. If this happens, the ant colony will not survive. If all the queens die, the particular gene pool is gone. Male ants rely on the queen to produce.

How Do Ants Choose Who Among The Queens To Kill And Spare?

Queen Ant

Researchers found out that some queens are selfish. In a study, they put queens in plaster nests. Some queens were alone, and some shared their thrones with others.

Once the eggs of these queens had entered the cocoon stage, the researchers either added or subtracted cocoons. They found out that:

  • Queens with many cocoons produce fewer eggs
  • Queens with fewer cocoons produce MORE eggs

In a colony, every unit has to do its job to ensure that the group survives. If the queen stops reproducing, it spells doom for the colony.

The queens that keep producing eggs have stronger chemical cues. Because of this, they have stronger odors than the other queens.

The worker ants that stage the mutiny can smell the difference, and they will kill all the queens that do not produce more eggs. Sometimes, however, they get so overexcited that they inadvertently kill all the queens.

Can A Normal Ant Become A Queen?

Queen Ants

On some occasions, yes. Normally, worker ants can never be queens. However, there is an exception to the rules. Worker ants cannot lay eggs, so they cannot become queens.

On some ant species, there are special worker ants, and these can become queens one day. However, these ants are more like wasps than ants.

Ant queens, by nature, are made. The parents have something to do with this. Some pairings of the queen and a male are more likely to produce queens.

Researchers say that there must be compatibility between the queen and the male so they can produce more queens.

The common thing that happens is that the queen is selected while it is still inside the egg. The original queen produces not only worker ants but also those that will become future queens.

Queens are instantly recognizable at birth or after hatching. The queen has wings, and she has a larger body. Of course, the queen has ovaries. In essence, the queen is destined to become one.

Typically, there is only one male variety of ants in a colony. Its main duty is to mate with the queen and then pass its genes. After mating, the male ant dies. Once the sperm is given to the queen, the queen stores the sperm and then uses this reserve for the rest of her life.

Females, on the other hand, come from fertilized eggs. Female ants are worker ants. Worker ants cannot produce eggs. The other type of female is the future queen.

Once the queen is capable, it will fly away and mate. Ants ate during the flight. It is also why males have wings. After mating, the male dies, and the new queen will establish its colony.

For some species, a common worker ant can be promoted to a queen. When this promotion happens, the new queen goes through some hormonal changes, which makes her capable of producing eggs. No one knows yet how this happens.

Some scientists suggest that the genetic make-up of the worker ant is the key. If her father passed on genes to her that will allow her to become queen one day, then it is possible for her to get a promotion.

Conclusion

The queen ant is usually the biggest in the colony. However, this can be misleading because sometimes, there are worker ants that are as big as the queen. The other method to identify a queen is by its larger thorax. Queen ants are generally eight millimeters long. Some can grow up to 52 millimeters.

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