The typical colony consists of one or more egg-laying queens, numerous sterile females which are the workers and soldiers and, seasonally, many winged sexual males and females. In order to establish new colonies, swarms of the winged sexuals known as 'alates' depart the nest in search of other nests. The males die shortly thereafter, along with most of the females. A small percentage of the females survive to initiate new nests.
Colony size is very important to ants because it can affect how they forage, how they defend their nests, how they mate, and even their physical appearances. However, colony sizes vary in different ant species. Some are just several ants living on a twig, while others are super colonies with millions of workers. Until 2000, the largest known ant super colony was on the Ishikari coast of Hokkaid, Japan. The colony was estimated to contain 306 million worker ants and one million queen ants living in 45,000 nests interconnected by underground passages
Ant colonies have a complex hierarchical social structure. Ants’ jobs are determined and can be changed by age. As ants grow older their jobs move them farther from the queen, or towards the center of the colony. Younger ants work within the nest protecting the queen and young. Despite the title of queen, she doesn't delegate the tasks to the worker ants; however, the ants choose their tasks based on personal preference. Ants as a colony also work as a collective "super mind". Ants can compare areas and solve complex problems by using information gained by each member of the colony to find the best nesting site or to find food.
- Which are usually the workers in the ant colony?
- How are colonies formed?
- What make/s a supercolony?
- Which is a characteristic of an ant colony?
- What is probably the significance of a colony?