How Long Is the Life of an Ant Colony?

Colonies can house tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of ants. However, they all have humble beginnings and most are inextricably tied to the life of the queen. Let’s take a look at how ant colonies start and how long they can last.

How an ant colony starts

Every ant colony starts with a swarmer – a winged ant. These swarmers are spawned in mature ant colonies, and they fly out in the hundreds or thousands looking for a new nesting location. Most of them will die trying to fulfill this mission, but one or two might be successful enough to mate, dig out an initial nest, lay some eggs, and nurture the first brood to maturity. Once these difficult first steps are fulfilled, the colony is well on its way to being successful, and the odds of it failing go down significantly. There are also species that can start their colonies by transferring already mature queens from their original colony, but this option is limited to only a handful of specific ant species.

How long does an ant infestation last?

An ant infestation will usually last as long as the queen is alive. The queen is the sole producer of new workers, and it can live for up to a few decades, while the average worker only has a few months to live. If the queen is killed, the rest of the colony follows shortly after. However, there are ant colonies that have multiple queens, and all the queens will have to be killed in order for the infestation to stop.

How are ant infestations removed?

Ant infestations are removed in one of two ways – direct application insecticides and baits. Direct application insecticides are very fast and they are used when an ant colony is out in the open. For when the colonies are hidden, or have multiple satellites, baits will have to be used. Baits consist of a piece of food that is laced with insecticide. The ants will come out of the colony to forage, find the bait, and then take it back to the colony and share it with other members. Eventually, the bait reaches the queen, who will get poisoned, die, and take the rest of the colony down with it. For more information about ant infestations, or if you have an infestation that has to be controlled, contact us today.


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