How Long Can Ants Live Without A Queen? All You Need To Know

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Do you know there is a queen in the ant family? What if the queen dies? How long can ants live without a queen? Ants are fascinating organisms that may be useful insects or undesirable pests in various instances. Depending on the occasion, you might love or detest them, but their tenacity and longevity are to be praised. 

When it comes to survival, they are gifted and given their size and the conditions they can tolerate. It’s no surprise that some scientists refer to them as “nature’s miracle.” Thousands, if not millions, of ants, live in each ant colony. One of these ants, known as the queen, controls the whole colony and is responsible for its survival.

But, if the queen ant dies, how long can ants live without a queen. 

How To Identify Queen Ant?

How long can ants live without a queen?

Queen ants vary from the other caste creatures of the ant colony in various ways, like behavior. Queen ants may survive for decades, for 30 years. Aside from their lifespan, queen ants are usually larger than the rest of the colony’s members.

Her majesty’s increased size helps her lay eggs, but it’s also necessary since queen ants frequently have wings. These new appendages necessitate the addition of muscular to support them.

The most visible difference when attempting to identify a queen is an expanded thorax (the body part below the neck), and you may occasionally observe that they have wings as well like drones.

When their wings are no longer needed, most queens will lose them. Small stubs are left behind due to this process, which can be used to identify the queen better.

Finally, you may identify a queen by observing how many other ants are drawn to her. Worker ants are known to climb all over their queen. They’ll take care of feeding and washing her, as well as securing her eggs when she lays them.

How long can ants live without a queen?

Black ants

The answer is that they don’t always last very long. While an ant colony may not perish immediately after losing its queen, it will shortly if the worker ants cannot adapt to life without her. They will eventually die because most ant species do not allow another ant to take over as queen.

The queen ant and her subjects live as long as the queen ant is alive. Most ant colonies will only last 3-4 months if the queen dies. In rare cases, ants can live another 12 months after the queen’s death if they are particularly adept at keeping up with their chores. 

The reproduction of the new queen ant is the responsibility of the queen ant. When a new queen emerges, she immediately starts building a nest where she will deposit fertilized eggs that will hatch into worker ants. But eventually, some hatch into queens.

When there are numerous queens, some worker ants may try to turn them all at once, leaving only one queen. On the other hand, some worker ants can get carried away and kill all the queens, thus terminating their colony.

News Queens Ant:

Queen ants are not going down without a fight when anything occurs. When a queen realizes she isn’t alone in a colony, she produces fewer workers. It may appear counter-productive since it reduces the number of ants in the supercolony, but it is extremely strategic.

A queen has less authority and is more likely to be overpowered by the number of worker ants attacking her when the colony has fewer worker ants.

She has better fighting capability against the worker ants with fewer ants. It demonstrates that, when faced with overwhelming numbers against her, a queen ant is ready to put the colony’s interests aside to rescue herself.

However, this comes with a cost, particularly when worker ants kill queen ants. The greater a queen ant’s chemical odor for creating ants is, the more fertile and productive she is. Worker ants will save the queen that produces the most ants for the colony and destroy the queens who do not produce as many eggs.

To address the issue of what happens if a queen ant dies, the typical answer is that if the sole queen dies, the queen’s ant colony will die out since there will be no one to replace her. Some worker ants may murder their least productive queen ants in colonies with several queens.

They may, however, go too far with their mutiny and wind up killing all of the colony’s queens, resulting in the colony’s final extinction.

Why is the Queen Ant So Important in Ant Farm System?

A queen leaf cutter ant and her soldiers on the fungus.

Every ant colony has a queen. Their job is to accomplish one thing and only one thing: reproduce. The queen may deposit millions of eggs in her lifetime, which will hatch into worker and soldier ants.

Certain ant species and colonies can have numerous queens in some instances. These colonies will be enormous, with millions upon millions of ants populating the colony.

Since no ant in the colony can reproduce, the queen is vital to the colony’s survival. As a result, if the queen (or all of the queens) dies, the colony will cease to exist.

How Long Do Queen Ants Live?

Adult Female Ectatommine Queen Ant of the Genus Ectatomma

They fertilize the eggs, and queens have the longest lifespans. Their typical lifespan varies depending on their living conditions; however, it is normally a couple of years.

Ant queens have been known to survive up to 15 years, and in some unusual circumstances, even a couple of decades. All of this is contingent on the colony’s location and the ant colonists’ ability to safeguard the colony and its queen.

How long do ants live? (Worker Ants, Pharaoh Ants, Pavement Ants, Odorous House Ants)

Single ant walking along a wire

Scientists have discovered that all species of ants may live anywhere from a few days (or a week) to three decades, including garden ants and red harvester ants. Male ants are the first to die since they are primarily employed for breeding.

Male ants typically live for a few days to a month in the best-case scenario. Worker ants, or female sterile ants, can live for many years.

If left alone, worker ants can survive for up to five years. A queen ant lives for 15 years on average but can live twice as long before dying of natural causes.

How Do Queen Ants Usually Die?

Very detailed close-up of a wing-bearing queen of red forest ants.

The colony’s queens stay in the nest, where they are protected, but they can be killed in various ways, like:

  • Colony: Colonies with many queens may not survive since worker ants may want to eliminate all other queens save one. It’s conceivable that they’ll mistakenly murder all of the queens in this endeavor, causing their colony to die out totally.
  • People: Humans who want to get rid of subterranean nests on their property can also kill the queen. Pour boiling (or soapy) water into the nest to do this. Professional pest control experts know how to get rid of ant colonies and infestations from your house and property.

What are common causes of death for ants?

A leaf cutter ant carrying a huge leaf in his mouth while zipping along the edge of a sidewalk in the Soberania National Forest in Panama. Shallow depth of depth with selective focus on ant and leaf. The speed that the ant was traveling, the limited field of depth and the extremely small size of the subject made this a very gratifying image to capture.

As you’ve read, ants don’t usually have to cope with old age. So the causes of death are as follows:

  • They are not fighting inside their colony. Still, it is a well-known truth that colonies can conflict between themselves, whether for food or territory — ants are continuously fighting with one other. 
  • Or simply because their paths have intersected. If ant colonies aren’t fighting, they must keep an eye out for predators such as spiders and praying mantises, as well as a few reptiles and birds hunting for ants to feast on.
  • Worker ants might also fail to complete their mission and leave their colony without food, resulting in the colony’s eventual extinction.


There is a queen in every ant colony. She is the mother of the colony’s ants, and the colony goes to great lengths to protect her at all costs.

But what happens if the queen is killed in sand ant farms? After all, she is mortal; does the ant colony vanish when she does? Yes, shortly, the ant colony vanishes. Hope you find your answers in this article.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.