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Who Is Really In Charge In An Ant Colony?

May 1, 2015


The thought of an ant colony usually brings to mind a queen ant ruling over her loyal subjects. She sends them out to get food. She makes them take care of the babies. And she ensures that new eggs are produced so the colony can grow. But this isn't exactly how it works. It might shock you to realize how it actually works.

In an ant mound there are thousands, and sometimes millions of sterile female workers that do all the important jobs of the colony. These workers do not mate and they do not lay eggs. The role of egg production falls to the queen. Her job as the reproductive female is to mate with the males and have babies. And, though she is sometimes the center of the ant colony, she is far from the leader. There are no orders given. She does not send messengers out to direct her workers. All the ants in the colony have predetermined roles and a set of instructions that determine what they are supposed to do. The queen doesn't have to tell them anything.

Ants communicate through scents they leave behind and by their antennae. When two ants meet, they communicate their roles to each other by rubbing antennae. Through this behavior and a sharing of scent, the colony decides what to do as a whole. They may decide to hide in their nest. They may decide to expand their search for food. Or they may choose to divide their colony to avoid a threat. All of their collective actions are determined by this share of information that is done by individual ants.

This dividing that can occur in a colony is what makes do-it-yourself ant control so ineffective. When homeowners spray ants or lay down bait, they can send a warning signal back to a colony and cause it to produce new reproductive females that go out and form their own colonies. If the ants belong to a satellite colony--a colony that exists inside the walls of a home--this can be particularly bad.

If you have ants crawling around inside your West Chester home, call Moyer Indoor | Outdoor. We've been taking care of ant problems in Pennsylvania including West Chester for many years and have the knowledge base to properly eradicate ants and their colonies so that this division doesn't happen. Killing a queen ant can kill a colony, but only when it is done correctly. Don't risk making your problem worse. Call the pest control experts and get rid of those ants for good.


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