The young mated queens land and, in the case of ants, remove their wings. They then attempt to found a new colony. The details of this vary from species to species, but typically involve the excavation of the colony's first chamber and the subsequent laying of eggs. From this point the queen continuously lays eggs which hatch into larvae, exclusively destined to develop into worker ants. The queen usually nurses the first brood alone. After the first workers appear, the queen's role in the colony typically becomes one of exclusive (and generally continuous) egg-laying. For an example of a colony founding process, see Atta sexdens.
The young queens have an extremely high failure rate. During its lifetime a very large ant colony can send out millions of virgin queens. Assuming that the total number of ant colonies in the area remains constant, on average only one of these queens succeeds. The rest are destroyed by predators (most notably other ants), environmental hazards or failures in raising the first brood at various stages of the process. This strict selection ensures that the queen has to be both extremely fit and extremely lucky to pass on her genes to the next generation.
すべてのアリが上述の基本的パターンを取るわけではなく、例えば、グンタイアリの場合オスのみが羽を持つ。 オスは、親コロニーを飛び立ち、未交尾の女王の待つ他のコロニーを探して飛び立つ。A colony with an old queen and one or more mated young queens then divides, each successful queen taking a share of the workers. The reason for this behavior is the fact that army ants do not have a physical nest. The queens are thus absolutely dependent on workers to protect them.
Another variation is found in species with multi-queen colonies, such as Solenopsis invicta. The males and virgin queens mate and the queens then often return to the parent colony, where they then remain. This process greatly increases the success rate of virgin queens and allows the creation of extremely large colonies or networks of cooperating colonies. The colony also becomes essentially immortal as it is no longer dependent on the continued health of a single queen. This allows Solenopsis invicta colonies to become entrenched in their surroundings, achieving a dominant position in the ecosystem. However, the price for this is inbreeding and the resulting loss of adaptability. This may result in sudden collapses in population when the environment changes or a new predator or parasite is introduced.
Flying ant day[編集]
"Flying ant day" is an informal term for the day on which queen ants emerge from the nest to begin their nuptial flight. In most species, the male ants also fly alongside them, although they are smaller and less noticeable. The queens fly around—some very long distances, and others going only a few meters—then mate, and drop to the ground where they lose their wings, and attempt to start a new ant colony  The mass of flying insects often attracts the attention of predators such as birds, and it is common to see flocks of feeding birds gorging on the readily available food.
This phenomenon occurs in many colonies simultaneously when the local weather conditions are appropriate, to reduce the effectiveness of predation and to ensure that the queens and males from different colonies stand a chance of meeting and interbreeding. It therefore has the appearance of being a 'timed' event or that the ants somehow communicate. However neither of these is likely to be the case - it is simply a common response to temperature, humidity and windspeed and time of year.
In October 2009, a swarm of flying ants briefly disrupted play between innings at cricket matches during the ICC Champions trophy, in South Africa. The matches were the semi-final between Australia and England, and the ensuing final between Australia and New Zealand, both day-night 50 over games.
- ^ a b May R. Berenbaum (1996) Bugs in the system: insects and their impact on human, p.67
- ^ Edward O. Wilson (2000) Sociobiology: The New Synthesis p.141
- ^ "Can a queen lay eggs of certain types of ants at will?"
- ^ "Flying ants plague London | Metro.co.uk". metro.co.uk. 2011.
- ^ "Ants - Mating, Reproduction, And Life Span".
- ^ Groundstaff try to clear another invasion of flying ants ESPN Cricinfo, 5 October 2009
- ^ Flying ants seize control at Centurion Cricket Next, 2 October 2009