The term “ant colony” is often used in two ways. First, it describes the location of an ant nest, where one queen and its brood live, work and interact with each other. Second, it can describe the ants themselves that live in that physical location. Ants are a highly social species that interact and are bound to one another by pheromones, giving them the ability to operate as a sort of hive mind.
The number of ants in a colony
Many factors will come into play when determining the size of a colony. The species, the age of the colony, and the weather among others will determine the number of ants that reside in a nest. The numbers can range from a few hundred to several thousand ants. For example, argentine ants will live in colonies that average about 10,000 ants per colony, while carpenter ants will usually reach about 3,000. You can also run across super colonies, where several different colonies work together, with the numbers being able to reach up to a few million ants. However, this is fairly rare, since ants tend to kill outsiders, with only 20 species of the 12,000 known having the ability to create a super colony.
The largest ant colony in the world
The largest ant colony in the world was created by argentine ants. Each colony has its own pheromone signature, and super colonies share the same pheromones. This is what allows them to work together. Argentine ants however do not need to have the same signature between different colonies, which means that they can cooperate with each other whenever they share an area. In southern Europe, there is such an area where over 33 ant populations containing millions of nests and spanning 3700 ants work together as one giant super colony.
Do all ants live inside of a colony?
Ants are exclusively social creatures, which means that every ant in the world belongs to one colony or another. There is no such thing as a solitary ant, unlike wasps, which can be both social, living in colonies, or solitary, living by themselves.
Most ant species are a harmless nuisance inside the home, but species such as carpenter ants and fire ants can do real damage when they infest a property. Contact us today if you are dealing with either and we will help you get them under control.