The ant life cycle has four distinct and very different life stages: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. This is known as complete metamorphosis. It generally takes from several weeks to several months to complete the life cycle, depending upon the ant species and environmental factors. Eggs A female ant that successfully mates with a male ant will become a queen ant that lays eggs. Fertile queens select a sheltered place to begin a nest (colony) and begin laying eggs. Ant eggs are very small – only about a half of a millimeter in diameter. The eggs are also oval, white, and transparent. Larvae After about 1-2 weeks in the egg stage, a grub-like, legless ant larvae hatches. This stage has a voracious appetite, and the adult ants spend much of their time feeding the larvae with food and liquids they digest and regurgitate. Pupae After the larvae molt and shed their skin, they change into the pupal stage. Pupae appear somewhat like adults except their legs and antennae are folded and pressed against the pupal body. Initially, ant pupae are usually white but slowly become darker in color as they age. Depending upon the ant species, pupae may be housed in a protective cocoon. Adult Once the pupal stage is complete, the adult ant comes on the scene. At the time of emergence, the adult ant is fully grown but darkens in color as it ages. Adult ants are one of three different colony castes; queens, workers or males. Queens are fertile females that lay all the eggs in a colony. Workers are females that do not reproduce, but do gather food; feed the larvae; and maintain and clean the nest. Workers are wingless, and it is the worker stage that is seen foraging around for food or defending the colony from intruders. The male ants are winged, but their only job is to mate with the queens during the swarming process.
Pharaoh Ants have a body length from 1/12 to 1/16 inch long (monomorphic), body coloration varies from golden yellow to reddish-brown. They have 12-segmented antennae that end with a 3-segmented club.
Feeds on sweets (jelly, sugar, honey, etc.) giving it the nickname “sugar ant” – as well as cakes and bread, and greasy or fatty foods. Pharaoh ants form large colonies consisting of many nests, which colony members move freely between. Colonies vary greatly in size; from only a single queen with a few hundred workers to other colonies with hundreds of queens with several thousand workers. Queens may live for a year and lay up to 35 eggs per day. Workers develop from egg to adult in 36 days.
They are found throughout the United States and are generally found only in heated structures because they usually cannot survive outdoors all year. However, they can be found nesting in the soil outside buildings in subtropical areas such as Hawaii, Florida and southern Texas.
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