Ants are some of the most tenacious creatures on our planet and believe it or not, there are studies which indicate that they may actually predate certain species of dinosaurs. In other words, ants came into being during the mid-cretaceous period and that’s about 110 to 130 million years ago. Makes you think doesn’t it especially when you consider the fact that we humans have only been around for the last 200,000 years. There’s no denying the fact that ants are spectacular and would do just about anything to survive. Even their life cycle is interesting which is why we should take a closer look at the same.
- Egg: An ant begins its life as an egg, a tiny oval egg that’s almost translucent; its size is quite tiny and depending on the species, the number of eggs laid initially also varies. Generally, once the queen mates, she seeks out the right nest, then seals herself completely with her eggs and waits until they hatch. Initially a small group of worker ants take over maintenance and look after the queen and ensuring that the eggs are well protected at all times. Soon, in a matter of weeks, the queen’s brood soon hatches out of their eggs and the whole colony welcomes the latest members to their hive. The queen continues to lay more eggs and the worker ants are often sent out to forage for food for the queen and her brood.
- Larvae: As the egg hatches, a larva slithers out; it has no legs nor does it have any eyes but instead it depends totally on the queen and her worker ants. It is the main purpose of the various worker ants to ensure that the larvae are kept free of dust, and are well fed. The larva’s sole purpose is to eat and grow which they manage to do with remarkable speed and soon they become large enough to enter the next stage of their life cycle. Soon, the larvae transform into Pupae.
- Pupae: During the pupae stage, some of the species spin a cocoon using their saliva while others just enter into a dormant phase, ‘as it is’ with no special covering. They are generally white in color and soon grow the requisite arms, legs and eyes and after a period of six to ten weeks though it should also be pointed out that ambient conditions can also have a role to play in this. Most pupae are generally pale whitish in color but they soon darken as the time for emergence draws nearer.
- Adult: After a period of six to ten weeks, the ant emerges out as an adult and starts to explore its environment right away; and soon, the queen mates with another male and the life cycle begins all over again.
This is the life cycle of an ant; incidentally, the ant as a species have managed to spread itself to all the continents with the exception of Arctic and Antarctica, and the longest species of ant ever discovered measured a whopping 2.4 inches.
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