The life cycle of the ant consists of four stages: egg,
larva, pupa, and adult. Fertilized eggs produce female ants (queens, workers, or
soldiers); unfertilized eggs produce male ants.
- Egg: Ant eggs are oval shaped and tiny (they are on the order of 1
mm long, but the queen's egg is many times larger).
- Larva: The worm-like larvae have no eyes and no legs; they eat food
regurgitated by adult ants. The larvae molt (shed their skin) many times as
they increase in size.
- Pupa: After reaching a certain size, the larva spins a silk-like
cocoon around itself (against a solid object, like the wall of the chamber)
and pupates. During this time the body metamorphoses (changes) into its adult
- Adult: The pupa emerges as an adult. The entire life cycle usually
lasts from 6 to 10 weeks. Some queens can live over 15 years, and some workers
can live for up to 7 years.