Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have found a few dozens of ants in my luggage after arriving back from holiday. Am I at the risk that they will form a colony in my home? Are those ants able to form colonies that are normally gathering food? Will any other kinds of ants be present in the luggage? What will happen to these ants after they start exploring my flat (which is distant from their original colony)?

share|improve this question
1  
typically only if the queen is in the luggage. ants definitely arrive with cargo and colonize new continents, so its not unheard of however unlikely it will happen –  shigeta Jul 6 at 4:13

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

An ant colony is started by a queen ant (reference). Worker ants are sterile, and cannot start a new colony (reference). The ants in your luggage are worker ants (unless you have a colony in there :) ). The original queen ant never leaves her colony, but during a nuptial flight, new queen ants will land in (hopefully) good nesting sites. (reference) These ants can be told by their wings, which are non-existent in worker ants.

The worker ants have an average life span of 45-60 days (reference), so the ants in your luggage won't be around for very long.

Also see:

If a worker ant gets separated from its colony, it's doomed. No other colony will take it in, and it can't start its own colony--only queens can do that. It might be able to live for a while, but generally not that long--a lost worker is generally more concerned with hunting for its colony than with feeding itself, and its energy reserves are fairly small (depending on the ant species--some have workers that are adapted to taking long foraging trips). A few ant species, however, have "supercolonies," where neighboring colonies are established by queens directly related to one another. When queens are close relatives, their workers tend to have similar chemical profiles, meaning they can move from colony to colony without triggering the usual colony defenses against intruders. (Intruders are recognized by their chemical profile--their odor--and not by appearance, ID card, etc.) In such cases, workers routinely transfer between colonies, so a worker may end up working for its grandmother or, forgive me, its aunt. (From this page)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.