How are ants born — Marisa’s student essay

How Are Ants Born?

Ants. An insect so small and mundane that no one really stops to think about their life, let alone how they are born. Research shows that there are over twelve thousand ant species. Ants, like most insects start out as an egg which come from the queen of the colony. Depending on the species of ant, a queen ant can lay anywhere from twenty eggs as well as over three-hundred thousand. 

Along with these eggs, the queen ant also lays unfertilized eggs to help create sustenance for not only her but for the unborn larvae. These unfertilized eggs are called ‘trophic eggs’. The word trophic meaning of/or related to nutrition. The unfertilized eggs that aren’t consumed can also hatch into male drone ants.

The next step is the larvae stage. This is when the eggs are ready and hatch into larvae. These larvae are long, white and transparent. The larvae are covered in small hairs that help them stick to other surfaces. 

This function helps the larvae stick to outside surfaces, keeping them from getting eaten from other insects. This is when the trophic eggs come into play. The queen ant purposefully lays these eggs next to the fertilized eggs, so once they hatch the larvae have a food source readily available. 

The larvae also get fed by the queen and worker ants. Most larvae will end up becoming worker ants. A very select few have the chance of becoming a wingless queen.

ant workers

This leads to the larvae becoming the pupae. It takes six to twelve days for the transition from larvae to pupae to start. The transition from larvae to pupae begins when the larvae become inactive and gets rid of the toxins that have accumulated over the course of the larvae stage. When this happens, the larvae begin to form a black dot which then signifies they are about to cocoon. Varies ant species cocoon differently. Some cocoon in silk, others form a shell, and others don’t form a cocoon at all. 

Once the pupae cocoon, the ants of the colony take the cocoons and create a nest, usually in high above ground areas such as trees. This is where the pupae will finish out its transformation into an adult ant. This process can take anywhere from six to ten weeks. This process can also be hindered if the climate is too cold.

Moving Ants Colony

Finally, after weeks in a cocoon a fully grown adult ant will emerge. When the ant wakes up from its cocoon, it will be lighter than all the rest, almost transparent in a sense. Within a few days the ant will darken in color and gain some markings. The newly hatched ants will then find their place within the colony, such as tending to new eggs, or tending to the queen. They will then gradually move up to more risky tasks such as foraging for food or defending their nest.

Who knew that an insect so small goes through a time filled process to reach adulthood? This is how an ant is born and brought into mother nature.

Author: Marisa Begay

Arizona State University
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