Ants can be found everywhere especially during the summer. They are social insects that life in colonies which each member playing specialized roles. In an ant hill, there is a queen, king, workers and soldiers. The ant kingdom is organized in a similar manner to human societies. The life cycle of an ant begins when the queen and king mate. Only one queen exists in each ant colony. She is responsible for laying all the eggs. The adult, male king then fertilizes these eggs. If you observe an ant hill you will find eggs being moved across by workers in the colony. The eggs are the first stage in the life cycle of an ant. The life cycle of the ant consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. This could be any life cycle like the fire ant life cycle. Life cycles that go through the four stages are referred to as complete metamorphosis. This page features an online game on the life cycle of an ant. It is a free science exercise which students can use to practice at home or in the classroom using tablets or computers. At the end of the exercises, submit and check to see if you found the answers right.
Ants are social insects of the Formicidae family. By social insects, we mean that they live together in large colonies within which there is a high level of organization, cooperative brood care, division of labor among members and specialized tasks for specific members of the group. The different members of a colony include the queen, males and workers.
Ants undergo a complete metamorphosis, meaning they go through four distinct stages which include: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
The first stage in the life cycle of an ant begins with an egg. Eggs are laid by a mature female ant. There are usually many other female ants in a colony but only one of them can lay eggs; this is the queen of the colony. Ant eggs are soft, oval in shape and very tiny. You might have noticed small white objects being carried around by ants in a colony. These are the eggs. Although several of them are laid, only a few make it to maturity since the eggs are also targeted as food by predators.
The second stage is the larva. It is hatched out of an egg. It is a warmed shaped entity with no eyes or legs. However, they are heavy eaters and rely on workers to supply them constantly with food. Over time, they grow in size and shed their skin several times through a process of molting.
The third stage in this process is the pupa. The larva grows in size and metamorphosizes to become a pupa. This transition period is estimated at about 6 to 12 days depending on the species. The pupa is a resting stage in the cycle. However a lot of transformation and reorganization takes place. These lead to an entity that looks more or less like an adult but for the fact that the legs and antenna are folded against the body of the pupa. Some ant species spin a protective cover around the pupa for protection called a cocoon.
The last stage in the life cycle of an ant is the adult. After about 6 to ten weeks the pupa transitions into an adult. Adults could be male or female. Fertilized eggs produce females meanwhile unfertilized eggs produce males. Young adults have soft and lighter colored skin that darkens over time. The soft skin also subsequently hardens into an exoskeleton that protects the internal organs of an ant and also restricts its growth in size.
Adult ants are classified into three main castes mentioned earlier as follows: the queen, worker and male. Queens are females and are larger than members of the other casts. They initially have long wings that fall off at some stage.They lay all the eggs in a colony. Workers are smaller females; they do not lay eggs and perform all the day to day work that ensures the smooth running of the colony. Males have wings at the start, can fly and mate with the queen.