Once the eggs are laid, it takes more than 6 weeks (depending on species and environmental conditions) for the larvae to become fully developed. There are three castes of ants:
Male: adult males are winged. Their specific function is to mate with the female, and usually die after doing so.
Female: the largest in body size, the female begins adult life as a winged insect, but the wings are dropped soon after mating. Some species have only one female reproductive (‘queen’) while others may have many. The queen regulates the colony. Typically, females live up to 15yrs.
Worker: they are sterile, wingless females. They serve the colony by nest-building, foraging for food, feeding immature ants & other castes, caring for eggs, defence, etc. Large workers with well-developed heads are called soldiers. Workers mostly live for about 1 year.
Although ants commonly have permanent nests, it is not uncommon for a change of nest location in times of adverse conditions.
Once a food source has been established, worker ants will leave the nest and travel in well-defined trails. The trails are usually marked by ‘scent trails’ in the form of trail-marking pheromone secretions. Other methods include reference to landmarks, orientation with respect to light, communication, smell (trail-marking), taste (food exchange by regurgitation), hearing (tapping & stridulation), touch (antennal stroking), or sight (in ants with well developed eyes).
In their feeding habits ants tend to be scavengers or predators. Several species of ants are omnivorous, consuming a wide variety of plant and animal products.
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