Written by

David Floyd

David Floyd

Reviewed by

Brett Ehlert

Brett Ehlert

How Long Do Ants Live? – Ant Lifespans Are Surprisingly Long

Ants can be found in almost every country around the globe and are a common part of everyday life. It’s not uncommon to spot ants scurrying around your kitchen in search of food, but have you ever stopped to wonder how long these tiny creatures actually live?

With multiple different species of ants, as well as different classes of ants, an ants lifespan might surprise you! In this guide we’re going to break down how long do ants live for and give you a breakdown based on species of ant as well as the class of ant.

How Long Do Ants Live?

Ants can live up to a few weeks all the way up to multiple decades! The lifespan of ants can really depend on the species of ant, and the role of the ant in the colony. In general female ants live much longer, and can live for multiple months or up to a few years! On the other hand, male ants generally only live for a few weeks, and they will die shortly after they’ve finished mating.

how long do ants live

That being said, if the environment is full of ant predators, then their average lifespan can get cut down significantly.

Below we’re going to break down the lifespan of individual species of ants as well as classes of ants:

Worker Ants Lifespan:

Worker ants, which are sterile females, typically live for a few months, although some can live for up to a few years, it really depends on the specific species.

  • Odorous Ant Worker Lifespan: 2-3 Years
  • Fire Ant Worker Lifespan: 5 Weeks
  • Carpenter Ant Worker Lifespan: 5 Years
  • Pharaoh Ant Worker Lifespan: 10 Weeks
  • Argentine Ant Worker Lifespan: 1 Year
worker ant lifespan

Drone Ants Lifespan:

Drones, or male ants, usually live only for a few weeks and die shortly after mating, their sole purpose is to simply reproduce and forage for food. Check out our guide on how long do ants live without food!

Queen Ants Lifespan:

Queens, the reproductive females of the colony, have much longer lifespans. Many species of ant queens can live for several years, and some have been known to live for up to 30 years or more in captivity. Queen ants are also known to sleep the longest, I wonder if their lifespan has to do with their sleep schedule.

  • Odorous Ant Queen Lifespan: 15 Years
  • Fire Ant Queen Lifespan: 7 Years
  • Carpenter Ant Queen Lifespan: 25 Years
  • Pharaoh Ant Queen Lifespan: 1 Year
  • Argentine Ant Queen Lifespan: 2-3 Years
queen ant lifespan

The Average Ant Life Cycle

Many people don’t sit down and think about the actual life cycle of ants, instead they just try to kill them. I completely get it, you just want the ants gone. But by understanding an ants life cycle, it gives you better insight on your ant infestation and how to better eliminate the infestation!

Eggs Stage:

Just like nearly every other insects, ants start out as eggs. In an ant colony, the Queen’s job is to lay eggs and reproduce to grow the colony. Depending on the species of ants, these eggs will usually happen within a few days to weeks.

ant eggs

If the ant eggs are fertilized they will hatch as female worker ants, who will forage for food. If the ant eggs are unfertilized then they will hatch as male drones whose only responsibility is to reproduce!

Overall this stage of life for ants is pretty dormant as they are simply sitting in their eggs until they are strong enough to hatch.

Larvae and Pupae Stage:

Once the ants have hatched from their eggs, they enter the larvae stage of their life. They’ll hatch from the egg looking like tiny worms, without the ability to fend for themselves. During this stage, they rely on fully grown worker ants to tend their needs and to feed them.

ant larvae

As the larvae begins to age they’ll begin to pupate again and again, growing and taking traditional ant form for every pupation.

After about two weeks, these ants will be full sized. Depending how much food they consumed during this stage can dictate if they turn into flying ants or not. If you have flying ants in and around your home, you should be worrying more about flying ant bites.

Almost as soon as it started, the larvae and pupae stage is over, and ants are ready to become full fledged adults.

Adult Stage:

At this stage in life, the ants are fully grown. In total it takes around 1-2 months for ants to reach full adulthood.

This is unfortunate for male drone ants because they actually end up living the majority of their life in the growth stages, and die shortly after becoming adults.

Final Thoughts On The Lifespan of Ants:

Ants can live a short life that’s predetermined for them. Depending on their gender and class, their lives will live much different.

Generally speaking ants will live between a few weeks all the way up to decades! Their life span really depends on the species of ant, the class of ant, as well as their environment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on how long do ants live, and I Hope it’s provided you with a little bit of clarity that helps to get rid of your ant infestation!

Resources:

https://extension.umn.edu/insects-infest-homes/ants

David Floyd:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. David is Quality Pro certified and is a certified Structural Pest Control Operator in the state of North Carolina, and the owner of NCPestControlExperts pest control company.

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