Labor of Love

Our family saw a few of these swollen ants during our hike in Mary S. Young State Park.  Look at the abdomen (the segment in the back).  It looks like it is full of something.

Very close by were many, many wings as seen above.  What does this mean?  I am guessing that these are new queen ants that have just flown out of their nests to mate and then form their own colonies- or maybe even return to the same nest to join other queens in laying new eggs.  I am guessing that the abdomens of the ants above are so swollen because they are full of eggs.  The wings probably fell off because, once the queens mate, they don’t need to ever fly again.

So what happens now?

This photo was taken in my backyard.  I had covered some soil with a tarp for a couple of months and pulled it back to reveal this- worker ants with babies.  Notice how some of the white blobs have a black spot?  Look closer at them.  See the beginnings of legs and ant bodies?  These are ant pupae- the final stage of developing before they become adults.  Some will become worker ants whose sole job will be to care for new ants or find food for the colony.  Some will become males who will eventually leave the nest to find mates.  And some will become new queens who will also leave the nest, as seen above.

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