Life cycle of an ant biology lesson for kids: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grades biology lesson.
Ants are insects, and, like all insects, they undergo metamorphosis, changing their form between their baby stage and adult stage. In ants, this change is called complete metamorphosis, because their change is so drastic.
Ants live in huge families called colonies. There is usually only one female that lays eggs. This one female, called the queen, is the mother of all the other ants in the colony. She is bigger than all the others, and continuously lays eggs. She isn’t a queen in the sense that we know it as humans, though; she doesn’t tell the other ants what to do. Like everybody else in the colony, she just knows her role, and carries it out.
The eggs are very small, and when they hatch, the larvae (singular: larva) that come out are blind and legless. In fact, they look like worms. Female ants feed the larvae, and they grow over a few weeks, until they’re ready to become pupae (singular: pupa).
To become a pupa, a larva molts (sheds its skin), revealing a shape that looks a lot more like the ants we know. Pupae don’t eat, relying solely on what stored within their bodies for energy and nutrients. Over time, pupae change on the inside, becoming adult ants. Their bodies go from white to darker colored, and soon they’re ready to burst out from their pupal shells as adult ants.
There are different kinds of adult ants, though. Fertilized eggs, meaning eggs that get genetic female from males that mate with the queen, will all be female. These females and can either be queens or workers, depending on how they were fed as larvae. Queen ants were fed a more than workers, and have wings, unlike their smaller worker sisters. Males are winged, too, and develop from eggs that were not fertilized. That means a male has no father, only a mother, the queen.
When the ants are ready, the queens and males leave the colony, flying around and mating. Males don’t know how to feed themselves, so they starve to death after they mate. A queen, on the other hand, loses her wings and looks for somewhere suitable to start her own colonies. Once she does, she lays eggs, taking care of them until they grow up are ready to take care of her. Her babies, workers, will feed her, and take over the task of taking care of their younger brothers and sisters. The colony grows and grows, every ant doing their job to make sure things go smoothly.
That is the life cycle of the ant, hidden from human eyes in the safety of their nests.