How Long Do Ants Live? – The Lifespan of Ants.

If you’ve ever been curious about how long ants live, you’re not alone.

While they may seem like tiny creatures that can easily be squished, they actually have some pretty impressive life spans.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how long ants live and what factors influence their lifespan. So, keep reading to learn more!

Naturally, ants have a longer life span compared to other insects.

The life span of ants is often determined by certain factors which are inclusive of food, species, and or the individual ant, environment, and growth stage. To ascertain how long ants can live, it is important to know their life cycle; the stages they undergo before fully becoming ants. 

Stages of ant life.

Naturally, ants undergo several stages of metamorphosis; change, before becoming adult ants. These stages of change are – egg, larva, pupa, and then adult. It takes about eight weeks for eggs to fertilize and develop into adult ants. However, this is subject to the species of ants, some may take a longer time, and others may not. 

  • Egg – the egg is the first stage that begins the life cycle of every ant. The egg is first laid before it fertilizes and develops into female ants (workers). In the ant life cycle, not all eggs fertilize. The unfertilized eggs develop into male ants also called drones. 
  • Larva – this is the second stage of the ant’s growth. During this stage, the egg hatches into a worm-shaped larva. This larva has neither legs nor eyes. Ant larvae grow quite quickly and eat constantly. 
  • Pupa– at this stage, the growing ant has developed from a larva into a pupa and has begun to look more like the adult ant only its antennae, wings, and legs are folded against its body. During this stage, the pupa rests and reorganizes.
  • Adult – here, the pupa has developed into adulthood. You should note that at this stage, the ant can no longer grow due to the hard exoskeleton it now possesses. That is to say, it is fully developed and will not outgrow its current state. Adult ants are of three kinds in every colony; the queen ant, the male ant, and the workers. 

How long do individual ants live?

In the ant life cycle, every colony comprises three castes; the queen ant, the male ant, and the workers. Their functions in their colonies is also a determiner for how long they live individually. Since they all carry out different functions and are made for different purposes, their life span will differ. The lifespan of a male ant differs from that of a female ant and also from that of a queen ant.


How long does a male ant live?

The male ants who develop from unfertilized eggs have a specific function which is “mating” with the queen, after which they die.

All male ants who are often winged do not live for more than one to two weeks after mating. So after undergoing the stages of metamorphosis, they mate with the queen who loses her wings after mating and lays eggs in order to continue the life cycle of the colony.

How long does a worker ant live?

Worker ants may live longer than male ants. Like the male ant, the worker ant has a specific function in the colony which is to protect the colony, repair nests, forage for food, maintain and sustain the colony. They can live longer but their life span is dependent on their species. Most worker ants are the ones you see in your homes. They may live from a few weeks to several months depending on how often they get attacked when carrying out their functions to sustain the colony

How long does a queen ant live?

The queen ant who is charged with the responsibility of reproducing eggs for the survival of the colony may live for many years and sometimes decades depending on the species.

She does nothing other than lay eggs and does not put herself in harm’s way. Her function as queen ant is solely for the survival of their colony. Of the three castes of ants in a colony, the queen ant lives the longest. She can live for about fifteen to thirty years in her natural habitat. 

READ MORE: Different Types of Ants: 

Species of ants with their different life span.

The species of ant is also a determining factor for the duration of time ants live for. Ants have a varying life span. Some live longer than others. Some of the species to be discussed include; fire ants, odorous house ants, and black garden ants. 

How long do fire ants live?

how long do ants live

Fire ants are stinging red ants with light brown color. They usually have more than one queen in a colony who most often after mating, leave in search of new colonies.

It has been estimated that fire ants can live from about six to seven years. The lifespan of a worker ant differs from that of a male, and queen.

Fire ant workers have a shorter life span than the queen, they live for about eight to ten months depending on their functions. Younger fire ant workers who stay in the nests to attend to the queen live longer than the more mature fire ants.

When you encounter a fire ant, it is most likely the older adult ant you encountered. They are the ones who go out to forage for food.

READ MORE: Do Vinegar Kill Ants?

How long do black garden ants live?

how long do ants live

Black garden ants are also known as glossy black ants can live up to fifteen years. Like most ants, queen black ants live the longest as they are responsible for the reproduction and survival of their colonies. The worker ants and male ants of this species, do not live as long as the queen ant. 

How long do odorous house ants live

Odorous house ants can live for about two to three years. They are the most common ant pests that visit your home. Workers however can live for about eight months while queen ants live longer. Odorous ants are known for the awful smell they emit when crushed. 

How long can ants live without a queen?

Ants can last for some weeks or months without a queen. These ants are mostly worker ants. They will be unable to reproduce so their colony dies with them. The female worker ants will, as usual, forage for food and protect their colony. They live a few weeks or months without their queen. 

READ MORE: What Do Ants Eat?

How long do ants live without food? 

As with us humans, food is a vital part of survival without which we can barely sustain. The same can be said for ants. The availability of food is a determining factor for how long ants live. When there isn’t one, ants may not survive for a longer period and would starve to death.

That being said, these pests can live up to two weeks without food irrespective of their species. When it comes to water, ants may be unable to live longer without it. It has been mentioned that they only survive five days without water. Imagine how fast an ant would die without food and water. 

How long do ants live in an ant farm?

Ants can be kept and taken care of on an ant farm. Most ants that can be kept are worker ants from species like red harvester ants, black garden ants, and pharaoh ants. Assuming you have an ant farm or you intend to make one, the ants you keep can live for about two to three months before dying but this is largely dependent on how well you look after the ants in your ant farm. 

What is the longest living ant?

The queen ant is the longest living ant. A queen ant can live up to thirty years though an experiment has not been carried out to ascertain this, an ant has been recorded to have lived for thirty years – she is a queen ant who is said to have lived in her natural habitat, in Idaho all through her lifespan. Some ant species can live for about fifteen years, ants like the black ant. 


It is an obvious fact that certain ants live longer than others. Most of these ants that infest your home may not be the same as the others from previous years. However, their queen can live for a decade as long as they are not disturbed or invaded by predators. Some ants in your home live for about two to three months and others for a lesser period. When you get rid of these pests from your home, you may be reducing their lifespan. 


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