Ants are truly social insects, living in colonies where:
- at least two generations of animals live together at the same time,
- developmental care is taking place,
- division into three castes is in effect.
They are winged all their lives. Their life expectancy does not exceed a few weeks. Their only role is to impregnate the young queens. After the wedding flight, they are no longer accepted in the nest.
They are also known as fertile females or gynes. They are larger than representatives of other castes. In most species, the young queens are winged. After mating, they lose their wings and build a new nest or are admitted to existing nests. Their main role is laying eggs. Queens are long-lived. Depending on the species, their life spans range from a few months to more than 20 years.
They are infertile, wingless females. Their life span lasts for a period from a few months to three years. It is the most numerous caste. For instance, the number of workers of a leafcutter ant family living in the Americas can reach up to eight million. Workers carry out all the duties inside and outside the nest, which ensure the survival of the colony. Some ant species develop a special group of workers – soldiers. They have a larger body size, a disproportionately large head and stronger jaws. Their main task is to protect the nest.
During the mating season, swarms of ants consisting of thousands of ants flying in the air at the same time can sometimes be observed. Most of them are drones.