While ants are abundant the average ant does not live very long. The lifespan of an ant is about 90 days although harvester ants can live up to six months. However, the longest living worker ant can live up to a year, or until someone steps on it.
In the ant world, it’s good to be queen. Queens can live more than two years and harvester ant queens have been known to live as long as 30 years. The queen ant lives in a colony where it lays thousands of eggs. Most of the eggs hatch worker ants, bugs that do not reproduce. Some eggs create breeding males which die as soon as they mate. A few are females that mature into queens.
A new queen will find a good place for a nest, build a small chamber and lay some eggs. When the eggs hatch, the neophyte queen will forage for food to take care of her antlings. When they mature into workers they take over all the labors required for survival. At that point, the queen does nothing but reproduce. Some nests have several queens which can keep a large colony going for decades.
Worker ants have amazing abilities to survive in harsh weather conditions like rainstorms and floods. The tiny critters do not have lungs. Instead they breathe through small holes around their bodies called “spiracles.” Without lungs, ants can’t drown, although they might appear to be dead in the water. However, ants close their spiracles when they are submerged in water. If the water starts to evaporate soon enough, and they can receive oxygen, they will come back to life. Another astonishing fact is that ants need a lot of sleep to survive. While it is commonly believed that ants work all the time, researchers have discovered otherwise. Fire ants go to sleep for about one minute around 250 times a day. These “sleep episodes” add up to about 4.8 hours of sleep a day. Fire ant queens are even lazier. They experienced 92 sleep daily sleep episodes which last about 6 minutes each. That means a queen is asleep for a total of 9.4 hours. And during hibernation, some ants sleep as long as four months.