New colonies can begin with mated flights
A new ant colony usually begins as a new queen flies off
from an old colony, mates with a male, finds a suitable site,
drops her wings and excavates a nest, and cloisters herself
within the nest for several weeks or more until her eggs
mature. She lays her eggs within the nest, cares for her
young, seldom or never leaving the nest again, relying on
workers to groom her and feed the colony after the first
generation is reared.
Some colonies are established through
For some ant species, such as the Argentine ant and the
pharaoh ant, queens mate in the old nest and workers accompany
the new queens to new nesting sites. In these cases, queens
may not have wings or be able to fly well. Workers can also
establish new colonies with or without mature queens through
budding. Workers carry immature stages (eggs, larvae, pupae)
to another nest site and rear some of the immatures up as
reproductive males and females.
Many of the most serious ant pests, including Argentine
ant, pharaoh ant, and the carpenter ant, have multiple queens
within colonies. Others, such as pavement ants, have only
one functional queen. After one season or a few years, depending
on the ant species, a colony begins to produce reproductives
that leave the colony, often in swarms, to form new colonies.
Only a few of the thousands of queens produced are successful
in founding a colony.
More about ant colonies