Social Behavior of Ants
Ants communicate with each other through tapings with the antennae and
smell. They are considered, together with the bees, as one of the most
socialized animals. They have a perfect social organization, and each
type of individual specializes in a specific activity within the
colony. They are thought by many as having a collective intelligence,
and each ant is considered then as an individual cell of a bigger
The colony is made up of one or more queens and many female workers.
During two or three days a year there will also be drones, which seem
to have only a reproductive function.
The queens are bigger than the workers and the drones. The queens
produce particular pheromones, (which are special secreted substances
with special smells), that makes the whole colony work and keep
together. Each colony has its distinct smell, and all the members of
the same colony smell similar.
The other main function of a queen is to lay the fertilized eggs,
millions of eggs. The queen is the mother of all the ants in the
She can live up to 15 years and needs to mate only once. The mating
takes place in the air shortly after the queen breaks free from her
cocoon. After the mating takes place, she rips off her wings and looks
for an appropriate place to start the new colony. She does not need
the wings in her nest underground. She may pass many weeks, and even
months, without food. She has to take care of the first batch of eggs.
Once the first ants come out of their cocoons, they start gathering
food and doing all the chores around the nest. From there on, the
queen is taken care of, and becomes a prisoner of her duty.
Workers are infertile females. They are the majority of individuals in
the colony. They perform specialized and different chores. In
accordance with their function, they may have physical appearances
different from each other. For example, the ants which guard and
protect the nest may have big heads and jaws while the ants that store
the honeydew will have big abdomens. Some of the functions the worker
ants perform are: gathering of food, cleaning and caring for the eggs,
cleaning and feeding of the queen, defending the colony, processing
and storing of food, making new tunnels and chambers
The drones are the only male individuals in the colony. They have
permanent wings. The drones' only function is to mate with the new
queens. In the mating time the drones will fly out of the nest first,
forming like clouds in the air. The new queens will follow, and they
will mate with the drones in the air. After the mating, the drones
will soon die. Their span of adult life...