Ants are believed to be one of the longest-living insects found in the wild. But how long do ants live exactly? Well, the queen could live up to around 30 years, which is quite long for most insects. Meanwhile, the worker ants have an estimated lifespan of around 1 – 3 years. Lastly, the male ants who are in charge of reproduction have only a few days to live, and they usually die after mating.
Queen ants can live up to 30 years and produce millions of eggs in their lifetime.
If you have been a victim of an ant infestation, you may notice that ants could stick around for years and years. That is because as long as the queen ant is alive, the ant colony will continue to prosper, and so does your ant infestation problem as well. There are some other factors, though, that could affect how long ants would live.
Factors Affecting Lifespan of Ants
Here are the different factors that can affect the lifespan of an ant:
According to recent studies, the lifespan of some ants is also determined by their species. Some are known to live for a few years and others for just a few months. Here’s a brief idea of how long most common ants would live:
- Odorous House Ants – Although little is known about the lifespan of the odorous house ants, it has been documented that the queen of this species could live up to 8 months. Meanwhile, the workers can live for a few months and the male for about a few weeks.
- Concrete or Pavement Ants – The worker ants of a pavement ant colony can live up to about 5 years or more, while the male ants can live for a few months. There is little information on the lifespan of the queen ant, but they should outlive the worker ants.
- Argentine Ants – The queen ants can live up to several years, while the worker ants can only live up to around 10-12 months.
- Crazy Ants – The worker ants of this species can live up to about 76 – 84 days. However, there is no information on how long the queen survives.
- Pharaoh Ants – While the queen ant of this species can live up to around 4 – 12 months, the workers can only live to about 70 days, making them one of the shortest-living ants around.
The location of where the ants have set up their colony can also determine their lifespan. The more extreme the location is, the lesser their lifespan would be. An easily accessible location of their nest could spell their doom because it would be very easy to wipe them out. Some locations prone to extreme rain or snow could also cause their quick downfall.
Ants are tiny and they don’t have much protection besides their numerous quantities. Predation could shorten their lifespan by a whole lot. There are animals that are known to feed on ants regularly.
Examples of animals that feed on ants:
- Other Insects – Insects such as beetles, flies, and caterpillars have been known to feed on ants.
- Gastropods – This would include hard-shelled organisms such as snails.
- Spiders – Since spiders are not considered insects but rather arachnids, they also belong to this list.
- Reptiles – Certain reptiles such as lizards and snakes feed on ants.
- Fish – Some types of fish have also been documented to feed on ants.
- Mammals – The most well-known mammal that eats ants are the anteater, but others also include bears and coyotes.
- Humans – There are still some tribes left today that actually feed on ants as part of their culture.
- Other Ants – Like the fire ants or army ants, some ants are known to attack and feed on other colonies. You could say it’s an “ant eat ant” world.
Food Abundance and Quality
Ant colonies that were lucky enough to find a place with an abundant food supply will surely live longer than those that haven’t. The more food that ants could consume, the longer they could live. Most worker ants would sacrifice their food consumption if the food source is scarce, and thus, they are usually the ones who will die first.
Besides the abundance of food, the food quality will also affect the lifespan of the ants. Like us humans, the healthier the food we are eating, the more chances of living a longer life.
Longest Lifespan of an Ant in Captivity
The longest recorded lifespan of any insect in captivity actually belongs to the ant. A queen ant of the common black garden ants lived for about 28 years in captivity. This study was done to determine which insect has the longest lifespan.
What Happens When the Queen Ant Dies?
As mentioned before, whenever the queen ant dies, so does the colony. The colony can’t continue because all of the female workers can’t reproduce, so there is no way for the colony to produce more offspring that will help maintain the colony.
When the queen ant dies, the colony won’t immediately cease to exist, but rather the population of the colony will start to dwindle until there are no more ants left.
How Long Do Ants Live When Separated from the Colony?
Due to a recent experiment, scientists were able to determine that a single ant could live up to around 6 ½ days on its own. Since ants are social insects, they will have a hard time living on their own. They can still eat on their own, but due to the ceaseless effort they have to spend to find their way back to the colony, their lifespan will shorten a whole lot.
Another experiment that was done with a group of 10 ants revealed that they were able to survive for 66 days.
Since most ants have a very long lifespan, you should consult a professional ant exterminator such as Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control if you encounter an ant infestation in your home. They can efficiently get rid of ants before they could break off into more colonies. Acting immediately upon the first signs of an ant infestation could save your home from being overrun by ants.