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How old can an ant get?

That's a question many people wonder about, and we're here to provide an answer! However, with ants, it's not straightforward to determine an exact age. Ants are quite diverse, and there are many factors that influence their lifespan, such as their food, how hard they work, and whether they avoid being eaten or crushed in nature.


Let's start with male ants. They have very short lifespans. After being born, they only live for a few weeks and die shortly after mating. Their sole purpose is to mate, and once that's done, they are no longer needed and perish.

Workers, on the other hand, have much longer lifespans because they need to care for the colony. They gather food, clean the brood, and defend the colony against hostile ants. How long they live varies greatly by species. Generally, smaller ants live shorter lives than larger ants. Some species live so briefly that they may die of old age before hunger, while others can live for two to three years.


An experiment with a Lasius niger colony succeeded in keeping a queen alive for 28 years! But this is an exception, and there may be queens that live even longer.


But what does this actually mean? Well, not much, really. This information about ant age isn't particularly relevant because ants in the wild rarely grow old. Workers typically die from injuries or are eaten by other animals. Colonies can also be defeated, with the queen and workers killed and the colony taken over. Additionally, the sperm that queens use to lay eggs often runs out before they grow old, preventing the birth of new workers. The ant population then declines, and the colony is taken over by a younger, larger colony.

Even in captivity, it's almost impossible to keep a colony alive for its entire lifespan because they require precise and scientific care.


In conclusion, ants can live to be very old, but it's rare. Each species has a different lifespan, but generally, smaller ants don't live as long as larger ones.


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