How Long Do Ants Live?

How long ants will live vary per species and their role within the ants’ caste system.

In general, workers can live anywhere from a couple of months to several years.

Queen ants generally live for several years and live the longest of all ants.

Most research focuses on how long queen ants live, as without her, the colony wouldn’t survive.

Below is a list of some common ant species and their lifespan.

Type Of Ant Queen Lifespan Worker Lifespan Male or Drone Lifespan
Carpenter Ant 7-10 Years 2-4 Years Dies after mating with female ant
Odorous Ants > 1 Year 1-4 Weeks Dies After Mating with Female
Red Imported Fire Ant 6-7 Years 5 Weeks Dies After Mating with Female
Argentine Ant 10-12 months 1 year Die After Mating with Female
Field Ants 15 Years 4-8 Weeks Dies After Mating with Female
Little Black Ants 30 Years 4 Years Dies After Mating with Female
Acrobat Ants 20 Years 2-4 Years Dies After Mating with female

Carpenter Ants

Queen carpenter ants can live up to 7-10 years.

Worker carpenter ants can live up to 2-4 years.

Male or drone carpenter ants only live for several weeks and die after mating with the queen ant.

Odorous Ants

Odorous ants have some of the shortest lifespans of all ants.
The queen ant typically lives for less than one year.

This is likely because they are polygynous ants and consistently have multiple females ready to become queens.

Worker Odorous ants can live as long as the queen or as short as several weeks.

Males Odorous ants die right after they mate with the queen or female ant.

Red Imported Fire Ant

The Queen of The Red Imported Fire Ant lives between 6 and 7 years.

Workers RIF Ants typically only live around five weeks

Argentine Ant

The Argentine ant queen only lives between 10 and 12 months. 

In laboratory studies, Argentine queen ants were executed by worker ants once they reached the ten-month age. 

Worker Argentine ants typically live around one year

Field Ants

Queen Field ants can live up to 15 years

Workers have a short lifespan of around 60 days

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh queen ants typically only live between 5 and 8 months

Worker Pharoah ants typically only live around ten weeks

Little Black Ant

The queen little black ant They can live up to 30 years.  They are one of the longest living queens of all ant species. 

The little black ant workers can live up to four years. 

Acrobat Ants

The queen acrobat ants can live up to 20 years

Worker acrobat ants can live between two and four years.

Factors that Determine the Lifespan of an Ant

Just like humans, the lifespan of ant is determined by any variables:

  • The Species of the Ant

Certain species of ant have much longer lifespans than others.

  • The Caste of The Ant.

Queen’s tend to live longer than workers.  

  • The Environment and Climate Around the Colon

Harsh Winters and summers can cause ants to die. Without the proper time, shelter, or food to survive ants can not survive harsh weather conditions. 

  • Predation and Competition 

Nearby predators or competition among other ant colonies can shorten the lifespan of ants. 

  • Food Quality and Availability

The quality and availability of food determines how fast and if the colony can survive. 

  • Access to Protective Shelter 

If ants are exposed and can not create protective shelter, they will die much faster due to environmental conditions or predation. 

What is the Ant Caste System?

What is the Ant Caste System?

Within ant colonies are three castes: queens, males, and workers. Each division within the cast has different lifespans.

Queens

The ant queen ant’s primary role is to lay eggs for the colony.

They are protected deep within the colony’s nest, where worker ants tend to them.

Depending on the species, ants can have one queen per colony or mulitple queens.

This is known as monogyne and polygyne, respectively.

Queens have the longest lifespan of any ants. They need to live long so that they can continue growing the colony.

 

Workers

The workers in the ant caste are all females and sterile.

They are assigned different roles within the colony, but all work to protect and grow the territory.

Some of the workers’ tasks include foraging for food, tending the eggs, feeding the larva, and building the nest.

Worker ants have the second-longest lifespan of the caste system.

The length will depend on the species of ant; some workers live two years while others only live several months.

 

Males or Drones

The male ants’ sole role is to mate with future queen ants.

They have the shortest lifespan of any caste, typically living only several weeks.

Male ants mate with queen ants and die shortly after.

Do Queen Ant’s Live The Longest?

Yes, queen ants typically live the longest out of all the termite cast.

Although, in a few species the worker ants can live as long as the queen ant. 

How long the queen will live exactly vary per colony.

Most queen ants live for several years.

For example, red imported ants live about seven years, while Argentine queen ants live only for a year.

The longest living queens of all ant species are of little black ants.

How Long Can Ant’s Live Without Food?

Ants survive without food for several weeks.

They will resort to cannibalism if they have not had food for several weeks.

This means that it is challenging and unlikely to starve out an ant infestation.

How Long Can Ants Live without Water?

Like most species on earth, water is more vital to ants than food.

Ant’s cannot survive longer than two weeks without water.

Although, this number may vary depending on the species.

For example, desert ants can typically survive without water for longer than ants in the rainforest.

Also, most ants can extract water from the food they eat.

Thus, if ants have a reliable food source they can survive longer than 10-14 days.

How Long Can Ants Survive Without Air?

Ants can stay submerged underwater for up to 24 hours or longer.

There is some research to show that ants can survive underwater for 14 days by going into a comatose like state.

How Long Will A Colony Live Without A Queen?

In general, ant colonies can survive without a queen between 3 months and two years.

After the queen dies or is removed, ants will continue on their daily routine.

They will continue foraging for food, building and maintaining the nest, and tending to larva.

But with no other ant reproducing, the colony will eventually die out.

Can Ants Survive Without A Colony?

Ants can survive without the rest of their colony for a short period of time.

One study found that isolating an ant reduced it’s lifespan by more than 90%

In particular, the study showed that ants that usually lived for 66 days only lived six days when isolated.

Ants that get separated from their colony and try to survive until they find their way back to the colony. 

If they don’t reunite with their colony ants will walk restlessly and eventually die of exhaustion.

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