Every colony have different ‘castes’ of ants with different jobs within the nest, below are the ants types found in any nest.
Queens are the founders and leaders of any colony and dwell deep in the nest to keep safe from potential predators. There primary function is to produce thousands off eggs to populate the colony. Queen ants are much larger than your average ant and can have wings, they can live up to 30 years.
Queens were once princesses and they are created by a larvae that is kept away from the original queen and fed a special food produced by a gland of the workers.
Workers are the most numerous kind of ant, they are the backbone of any colony and they are hatched from fertilised eggs fed normal food. Worker ants are sterile and unable to produce their own colonies. There function is to forage food, look after the queen and her eggs and build and repair the nest.
Depending on the characteristics of the ant when they are born they will be given different jobs to undertake. Generally younger worker ants will work deeper in the nest as they do not have the experience to survive on the surface of the nest until they are older. This helps colonies regulate numbers and ensure the continuity of the nest.
Depending on the species they can live up to a year or a couple of weeks.
Soldier ants are identified by their large heads and mandibles. Their role is to defend and attack other ant colonies and predators.
Harvester ants that forage seeds use the soldier ants in the colony to break open the seeds gathered by worker ants.
Leaf cutter ants use leafs to create farms in their nests, the soldier ants in these colony are used to cut thicker and larger leafs for the smaller ants to use.
Overall they are the muscle of the colony
Note: only certain species produce soldier ants.
A Drone is a hatched from unfertilised eggs and are smaller than the average worker. They do not do any work in the nest and their sole purpose is the mate with a princesses from other colonies.
During the mating season they take to the skies to mate with a princess, drones only live for a few months for mating. Their lives are short but they are crucial to the ant life cycle.