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How Long Do Ants Live and What You Can Do About It

There are numerous factors that define the longevity of ants’ life. I am going to tell you more about them. The first thing you need to understand is that you can’t simply rely on the shortness of these insects’ life, hoping that they will die on their own. If ants invaded your property, you will have to take measures, as they can live there for decades.

My personal experience, as a professional entomologist and private consultant, shows that these small insects may be hard to get rid of without proper measures. But if you are willing to learn everything about this problem, I am eager to help you. Let’s talk about the ant lifespan.

Manual into Ants’ Lifetime

ants drinking water

The average lifespan of an ant varies depending on numerous factors. This information is important in case your house or yard has been invaded by these insects. You may check out these factors:

  • The caste of ants’ colony;
  • Species of ants;
  • The area of habitat. Ants in cooler areas live longer, surviving winters in hibernation;
  • Quality of food and water;
  • The shelter that protects the whole colony.

Providing access to your food, you automatically extend the life of ants. The whole colony may exist on your supplies from the kitchen. While ants are an important part of this world, and they have important roles in nature, it does not mean that they have to prosper in your apartment or house.

The Role in the Caste System


While some ants have a longer life, others live just a few months. One of the main factors that must be taken into consideration is the social role of the longest living ant in the colony. The types of ants:

  • Male ants are those who live during the smallest period of time. They have to mate with females, and after that, they die. Male ants live for a few days after reaching adulthood.
  • Worker ants support the life of the colony. They take care of others, being non reproducing females. Their lives are several years long, on average.
  • Queen ants can live for 30 years or so. They lay eggs and produce other members of the colony. They will not be able to survive without a worker and male ants.

Here is the explanation of why some ants live longer than others. This is the reason why it is difficult to answer what is the lifespan of an ant. It depends on the place in the social hierarchy or caste that a particular ant belongs to. Anyway, the queen of ants lives longer than other members of the colony, but this insect is dependable of others.


Ants are fighting

Different species have different longevity of life. The most common fire ants’ workers live only five weeks in general. However, odorous house ants’ workers can survive inside your home for up to 3 years.

The Life Cycle

During their lives, ants experience numerous metamorphoses that change their bodies. They have three-stage of growing up before they will be adults. While the average life of this insect is not long, they all pass the complete ant’s life cycle:

  • Egg. The cycle of ant’s life begins with an egg. Fertilized eggs are females, while unfertilized ones are males;
  • Larva. Larva looks like a tiny worm. It does not even have eyes. Larva requires a lot of food, and workers are feeding them;
  • Pupa is another metamorphosis. They look like adults, but still with wings and antennae pressed close to their bodies. Some species of ants can spin cocoons around their bodies for protection on this stage of development;
  • Adult. This is the final stage of life. These ants are full-grown and ready to reproduce. The exoskeleton is already developed.

ant lifecycle

Depending on the specie and the region, this life cycle can vary by time. Usually, it takes up to several months to progress from an egg to an adult. Sometimes it takes only a few weeks.


Red ant on green leaf

What Is the Average Lifespan of an Ant?

As I’ve told you before, the longevity of the life of these insects depends on many factors. Usually, males live just for a few weeks after reaching adulthood. They mate and die.

Worker ant lifespan is a little bit longer. Workers that are the main feeders and protectors of the colony die after several months of adult life. Queens live up to twenty-thirty years, depending on the prosperity of the colony and inside/outside conditions.

In a tropical climate, ants do not hibernate. They stay active for the whole year. In cooler areas, they hibernate in winter.

How Fast Do Ants Reproduce?

The adult age of ants separates them by castes. Only queen ants that live longer can lay eggs. However, they can’t do it without male ants which usually die after mating with queens. Queens do not stop laying eggs even for a day.

They produce up to thousands of eggs per day. It does not mean that every egg survives. However, the population of ants rises extremely quickly. In a few years, the population of ants can grow to the million in a colony.

How Long Do Queen Ants Live?

Queen ants live longer than other members of the colony. Usually, they can survive for 30 years, in proper conditions, and depending on the hard work of other ants. They require feeding and protection of workers as well as mating with male ants.

How Big Can Ants Get?

On average, adult species reach 2 inches. The size varies from 0.03 to 2 inches. However, queens can grow bigger than 2 inches. The biggest ants noted by scientists reached 5.9 inches. But they have not survived till our days.

How Long Can Ants Live Without Food?

While the food gives ants energy, they can easily survive for a couple of weeks. Workers will do everything to save queens. However, without proper feeding, the colony will not be growing.

Can’t We Just Wait Till They Die?

In some rare cases, worker ants can live for several years, and queens may hold on for decades. It does not mean that they are going to live this long. However, as I have already mentioned, ants reproduce quickly and lay thousands of eggs almost every day.

Without your actions, the colony will grow to feed on your food and drinking your water. It is important to realize that even after the first generation is dead, the colony still survives.

If you had a deal with ants previously, share your experience in the comments below. How long did they live in your home?

Also read:


  • Identifying Household Ants (Texas A&M):
  • Ant Life Cycle (Arizona State University):


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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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