Workers are female ants that cannon reproduce. These are the majority of the ants inside a colony. Of these very few actually venture outside of the colony looking for food. This means that as the number of ants actually seen outside of the nest is only 5% of the colony. These are typically the older workers. The remaining workers are younger in age and specialize in food relating, food storage, caring for the young stages of development (i.e. larvae) and nest maintenance.
Polymorphic ants divide their workers into three grounds. These are designated by the size of the ant. The smallest ants tend to the young. Medium ants gather food and do light nest maintenance. The largest form do heavy housekeeping chores and nest defense. Dimorphic ants divide their workers into two types of workers: small and large. The smallest ants tend to the brood of larvae and the queen while the larger ants take care of nest maintenance, food, and nest defense. Workers in monomorphic ant colonies are given their tasks by age. They perform all duties in the nest at different phases of their lives.
The male’s eyes are larger thus he can see the queen better. His sole purpose is to mate with the queen. He dies within two weeks after mating. He is winged but he cannot fly very well and often mating occurs on the ground as is the case with Pharaoh Ants.
The queen is usually the largest individual in the colony. Her first and most important duty is to find a good nesting location. Many species of ants have several colonies (called satellite colonies). This includes pharaoh ants, little black ants, crazy ants and pavement ants. The queen mates only once but continues to produce offspring until she dies. In some species (predominately the pharaoh ant) feeding the larvae in a special way will cause her to become a queen.
Ant Species in Toronto
Different species of ants may differ in size classes of their workers. Many ant species including pharaoh ants are monomorphic. This means they only have one size. Big-headed ants are dimorphic have two sizes. Ants that have several different sizes are polymorphic including carpenter ants and fire ants.
Several types of ants are prominent in Toronto and the surrounding GTA including:
- Carpenter Ants
- Fire Ants
- Pharaoh Ants
- Pavement Ants
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