When we thinks of the shape of an ant one represents immediately the adult: an Insect always moving, having 6 legs and an articulated body. But before becoming adult ant passes by 4 stages of development absolutely different one from the other.
Many Insects have a growth by successive stages. A butterfly begins bye being a egg of small size from which a caterpillar leaves which, after several moults, will change into chrysalis. Finally from chrysalis a butterfly will leave with wings very colored. For an ant, stages of the growth are the same ones: egg, larva, nymph and adult. We see only seldom stages other than the adult, unless to be a good observer of the Insects.
Sometimes laid in bunches, white, oval and so small that 20 put end to end would make only one centimeter. At once laid by the queen, eggs are transported in special rooms of anthill, the nursery, where particular workers take care of them. eggs are laid in spring and in summer and after a few weeks, or month, according to the species of ant, they hatch by giving larvae.
The word larva comes from Latin and means mask; it applies at a certain stage of development of Insects because larvae of many Insects "mask" the future shape of the adult. Larva of ant look like a maggot and can reach the size of an adult, but it has neither eyes, neither legs, nor antennas. It is difficult to imagine that such an animal will transform itself one day into an ant with the so fast movements.
The same transformations occur for larvae of others Insects; caterpillar, maggot, a white worm, look like all worms, but while growing they will give rise to a butterfly with the bright colors, to a bluebottle and a sparkling cockchafer!
Larvae of ants are perpetually famished and their food occupies, workers during several weeks. Then abruptly the larvae stop eating: they are ready to change.
The third stage is the nymph or pupe; this time the features of the adult appear in a very blurred way. The pupe is of pale color with small legs and antennas stuck along the body. On the contrary larvae, the nymphs do not feed. It is one period of long sleep which lasts several weeks or even of the months. During this time and while the pupe does not stir up, the various parts of the body of the adult take form. Certain larvae of ants, like the worms with silk, weave a cocoon before transforming themselves into pupes, other are naked. One often uses the pupes wrap-in their silky cocoon under the name "egg of ants" to nourish fish or birds, in particular to raise the young pheasant.
Finally the nymph starts to stir up legs and antennas. The other ants of the nest meet around it and help it to demolish itself of its envelope and its cocoon by carefully tearing it with their mandibles. The young adult, at his exit of the cocoon, is held on his legs, but it is very weak and during several days its body will remain yellow pale. Quickly the young adult takes forces and its body is colored little by little until being same color as the other ants: the chitin carapace hardens and the young ant is in a position to begin its working life of which the duration can go one month at several years. It does not need training: it does nothing but follow its instinct, carrying out immediately and well same complicated and varied work that its elder made before it during years.
The queen of the Anthill the queen is the most significant ant of the colony because it is the mother of all the others. A new colony is rested by a queen who is single at the beginning, but in the large nests, which can be fifty years old of age and contain thousands and thousands of ants, it exists several queens who lay at the same time. The complex nests, like those of the ants of the Iridomyrmex kind of South America, indefinitely increase importance bus of the increasingly many queens lay unceasingly. In the colonies which have only one queen, or in the young colonies, the death of the queen condemns the anthill: it could not be born any more from new ants and the workers who exist age and die .In the colonies in full activity of the workers make the toilet of the queen with their language, nourish it better food and carry the eggs as soon as laid. During the day, when the sun heats the surface of the ground, the eggs are placed in nurseries located on the higher floors, then the evening, when the air cools, the eggs are descended in major nurseries and more heats. Much larger than the workers, the queen passes her life to be laid at the rate/rhythm
Whatever the place where ants live, pieces of wood, nests of leaf or into the ground, the young are always carefully protected at all the stages from their growth. If an underground nest is flooded, the ants save the young immediately: tight columns of excited workers leave the anthill and move away, quickly transporting in sure place the eggs, larvae and pupes, which they carry in their mandibles.
Majority of the ants, in particular in the moderated areas, live under ground. Ants genera Iridomyrmex, imported of South America in the United States, for example, build underground nests with many tunnels extending to far. We will see genera Atta further is a minor even more remarkable: their nests, cover great spaces and can go down to several meters of depth. The ants which live in the deserts, dry areas, dig their dwellings very deeply in the ground in order to be protected from the burns of the sun and to find moisture.