Ants have been discovered trapped in amber dating to 95 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period. That they outlived the dinosaurs isn’t surprising, but today their biomass (combined weight of all ants in the world) would be greater than any other creature. Their colonies are strictly organized, with the queen choosing whether her eggs are male or female. Females will become workers or other queens, while males will become drones. Only queens and drones have wings.
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After mating, a princess ant is considered a queen ant. She finds a good nesting site to start a colony, where she lays thousands of tiny eggs. She won't leave the nest until the first generation of worker ants are ready to search for food. Once her colony is established, a queen ant may lay thousands of eggs each day.
Eventually, ant eggs develop into larva, which resemble tiny pieces of rice. They have no eyes, only a mouth, and they are fed by worker ants that bring food to the nesting site. It takes between a week and a month for eggs to turn into larva, depending on the species.
A few weeks to a month after becoming larvae, the growing ants will be ready to spin cocoons, called pupae. Within a week or so, pale, yellow ants will emerge. They turn their normal color once their exoskeletons harden. A queen's first batch of ants will be smaller because they have not been fed by other worker ants within a colony.
Once its exoskeleton hardens, an ant is ready to begin supporting the colony. Worker ants are by far the most common, but some ants can also develop into soldier ants, drones, or princesses. The worker ants have distinct tasks, including caring for eggs, finding food, or expanding and maintaining the colony.