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Ant life cycle

Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera along with other many popular insects such as wasps and bees. They are classified as phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods), which are characterized by the presence of exoskeleton to support their bodies that have no internal bones.

Ants are social insects that live in colonies which can contain up to a thousand or million individuals. This tiny creature is known for its complex hierarchical social structure inside the colony. Each colony members have their very own roles and responsibilities in maintaining the colony.

On this page, you will learn the details information about the different stages in the ant life cycle in order to help you to control the ant problem as well as to keep ants from entering the house.

What are the stages of an ant's life cycle?

Ant Lifecycle

The stages of an ant's life cycle are similar to the other insect with complete metamorphoses, such as flies and fleas.

The life cycle of an ant comprised of four distinct stages, including:

  • Egg
  • Larvae
  • Pupae
  • Adult


The first stage of ant’s life begins as an egg. Ant’s egg is very tiny, only about 0.5 mm in size, white, transparent, oval, shiny and sticky. The queen ant is the founder of the colony. In just a few days a single queen ant is able to lay eggs in the range of 100,000 - 300,000 eggs.

How long do ants eggs take to hatch?

Generally, ant eggs will hatch and eventually reaching into the larval stage within 7 - 14 days depending on species, temperature and humidity.

Where do ants lay their eggs?

Queens ants are the only type of ant in the caste that in charge of lay eggs. Commonly the queens will finds a safe place where she can make a new nest and begin to lay all the eggs in a colony.


The ant larvae appear in yellowish-white in colour, transparent and look like maggots. They moulting or shed their skins several times many times as they grow.

Ant larvae eat both solid and liquid-form food provided by adult worker ants during the lifetime. As a result, they will grow rapidly and only takes a short amount of time between  6 - 12 day for the ant larvae to become pupae.


This pupal stage is the third and the last developmental stage before the adult ants form emerge. Similar to the larvae stage, ants pupae are depending on the adult worker ants in food intake.

Ants pupae are white in colour, appear somewhat like adults ants with their legs and antennae folded by the body and covered by a white or brownish cocoon. The pupa emerges as an ant adult within 9 - 30 days in most species.


After reaching the adult stage, young adult ants have a lighter colour and transparent body at the time of emergence, yet they get darker in colour as they getting ages.

In each colony, there are three separate types of ants (also known as ants castes) that divided by its different roles and responsibilities, namely:

  • The queen ants
  • The female worker ants
  • The male ants

Queen ants

The queen ants can live up to decades, and the mother to all the other ants in that colony. Queen ants are the most important member in the colony, due to its main roles to reproduce and lay eggs to preparing the new ant colony.

In regard to size, the queen ants are looking noticeably much bigger than other members of ants in a colony and approximately they can be up to 15 mm long. Both queen ants and male ants are born with wings.

Female worker ants

The female worker ants spent almost their entire life in the nest doing work such as taking care of the queen and the young (including clean the eggs, feed pupae and larvae), foraging for food as well as protect and built their nest. Although they are the other females in the colony, female workers ants do not lay eggs like the queens.

Male ants

Males ants, or also known as a drone is the smallest member in the colony. The male ants only job in the colony is to mate with the queen so she can lay her eggs.

How long is an ant's life cycle?

Generally, ants have a short life cycle. It only takes from 6 - 10 weeks to complete the life cycle, depending on things such as the ant species and environmental conditions.

What's an average ants lifespan?

The questions about how long will ants live still remains. There are several factors may greatly affect the ant’s lifespan and expectancy, including:

  • Environmental conditions – The ideal temperature for ants is 24 degrees Celcius with high humidity
  • Natural predators – Some ants natural predators or enemies are playing important role in threatening the colony population sizes. Some of the ant’s natural predators including spiders, lizard, armadillos even other ants
  • Ant species – Different ant species have different lifespans. For example, fire ants may live up to 30 - 60 days, while other ant species such as carpenter ants can live longer (up to 45 - 90 days).
  • Ant castes – Not just species, every each of ant castes inside a single colony also have a different life expectancy. Worker ants can live up to 1 - 3 years, while queen ants can live for decades. On the other hand, male ants rated to have a shorter lifespan. Male ants will live for a few days and die shortly after mating.

How to stop ants in the house?

Despite how fascinating ants life can be, you certainly may dislike ants as pests, especially when you have to see them marching in a line inside your house.

Ants can be a particular nuisance when they get into your home, they can contaminate food with bacteria and even there are an ant species can cause structural damage to your house if not treated immediately.

For expert advice and solutions on how to stops ants in the house, get in contact with Rentokil Indonesia today.

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