Different Types of Ants in a Colony Explained

Types of Ants in a Colony

Ants usually settle anywhere there is food and shelter for them. When they settled, they created highly organized industrial societies known as colonies.

There are different types of ants in a colony, and they are tasked with different responsibilities such that shying away from such responsibilities could disrupt the colony.

But that hardly happens, as ants are one of the most hardworking creatures in the world. Ants are known for being tireless workers and can lift objects 10 – 50 times their body weight.

This article explores the various types of ants in a colony and their assigned duties.

1. The Queen

The Queen
by jeans_Photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The ants in a colony are usually descents of one particular ant known as the queen ant.

The queen is the most important of all the types of ants in a colony and is also the head of the colony, and her only duty is to lay eggs to produce more ants for the colony, which she achieves with the help of the other ants.

The queen ants are usually bigger than other ants in the colony, which makes it easier to distinguish them from the rest.

Queen ants are born with wings, which they use during their nuptial flights, although they can lose them during mating.

The queen ants usually reside in the colony’s center and receive the most attention from other ants responsible for protecting, feeding, and mating with her.

Usually, there is only one queen in a colony. In the rare instance of more than one queen, the worker ants kill the clone queens until only one queen is left.

When the queen herself dies, the remaining ants stay in the colony and keep on working until they die off.

This is because, without the queen, there is no way to reproduce more ants in the colony.

2. The Drones

The Drones
by bramadiarya is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Drones are the only types of ants in a colony that are males, and they are born from unfertilized eggs released by the queen ant.

They are primarily tasked with mating with the queen to produce more ants for the colony.

Drones do not have stingers but are born with wings, which, like the queen ant, they lose after mating. They also possess a penis which they use to release sperm to fertilize the queen’s eggs.

Aside from having to mate with the queen, drones also take part in other duties, such as protecting the queen, defending the colony from intruders, and foraging for food.

The population of drones in a colony is usually very few, as a colony of ants is dominated by females.

Drones live only briefly during the mating season because they are small and cannot withstand the rigorous mating process.

Drones usually receive little attention in the colony as they can be easily replaced if they die.

The queen ant can store sperm from the drones for a long time, so frequent mating isn’t necessary. The stored sperm can be used to fertilize the eggs when necessary.

As such, drones are given lesser attention in the colony. Nevertheless, they contribute significantly to the development of the colony.

3. The Workers

The Workers
by Myprofe is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The types of ants in a colony that are primarily responsible for the harmonious functioning of the colony are workers.

Most of the ants around us are workers because they make up the majority of the ant population in the colony.

The workers are all female, although, unlike the queen ant, they are sterile and do not lay eggs.

The workers build the nests around the colony and keep it clean when necessary.

Some worker ants are tasked with tending to the eggs, larvae, and pupa by feeding and cleaning them.

Another group of workers is tasked with foraging for food in places even farther from the colony.

Some species of ants, such as the Argentine ant, delegate duties among the worker ants based on age.

While the older ants gather food, the younger ones store the food, build tunnels around the colony, protect the colony, and feed, groom, and transport the larvae.

4. The Broods

The Broods
by Fractality is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Broods are the ants in a colony that does not partake in any duty but still contributes to the colony’s growth. Ants’ broods consist of eggs, larvae, and pupa.

The presence of the broods in the colony helps the worker ants in some ways.

The workers delegate various responsibilities among themselves concerning caring for the broods in the colony.

These responsibilities range from feeding, cleaning, and protecting the broods until they become full-grown ants.


Ants are one of the most abundant specie of insect in the world. Scientists have estimated at least 20 quadrillion ants of different species worldwide.

Their ability to reproduce quickly and survive in various ecosystems contributes significantly to their large population worldwide.

There are many types of ants in a colony, and although their functions differ, they all contribute in different ways to the colony’s growth.

Irrespective of how organized and engaging the activities in an ant colony are, it could be very inconvenient if the colony happens to be within our homes, as ants are one of the most persistent pests in the world.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like