Queen ants emerge from the nest after a few days of rain when the weather is favorable for flight. You can see them swarming on the sidewalk while waiting for the drones.
Do Queen Ants Lose Their Wings? Queen ants lose their wings after mating to use them for nutrition, feed first-generation larvae, ensure the colony’s survival, and use these for food. Moreover, they mate once in life and do not engage in second nuptial flight, so these muscular structures are not required. She uses her legs to tear them apart from her body in only 50 to 60 seconds.
They are born with distinguishing features like wings that other colony females do not possess. Therefore, it can be used to identify fertile females from sterile workers.
Moreover, she keeps them attached until she has not engaged in a flight with reproductive males and removes them after mating as she has to nourish these muscular structures.
When do queen ants lose their wings?
Queen ants are born with two pairs of wings on their thorax, like the one possessed by drones, as they have to engage in nuptial flight at the time of mating during summer.
They are essential to fly higher in the sky as they usually mate in the air or on the tree top. You can see a large number of flying insects on flying ant day when they swarm on sidewalks.
Moreover, the reproductive females consume extra food to nourish these muscular extensions as they have to support the mating flight. Therefore, their function is limited to flying and are of no use later.
Accordingly, you can see her shedding her flying muscles after landing on the ground. As a result, you can see a large number of dropped wings on the pavement in the evening on flying ant day.
Furthermore, these swarmer insects chew their muscles after landing on the ground and finding a suitable place to produce eggs and raise a colony.
Why do queen ants lose their wings?
Queens remove their wings after mating or when they separate from the colony members and independently start a new colony. They get nourishment until they are of use to them.
Most of them drop flying muscles because they are considered non-essential body parts that need to be removed because they consume nutrients for no reason.
They have to maintain it by providing nutrients until these insects do not get engaged in flight and remove them immediately after mating.
In addition, these are chewed off by the queen when she needs food and eat them to get nutrition until the workers become adults and take care of her nutrition.
These flying muscles are used for nutrition by the majority of these insects as they are considered useless, while a few of these flying females leave them on the ground and hide under the soil.
When she begins to rely on them for nutrition, there is no need to leave the nest for food. Instead, she can prevent predator attacks by living in hidden spots and feeding on her flying muscles.
Moreover, she can nourish the young ones with nutrition from her discarded muscles, allowing them to grow and become adults.
It does not change their lives significantly because they do not use these flying muscles after collecting sperm in their pouches.
So, their one-time mating activities are responsible for such behavior as they do not face any problem living as wingless insects.
How do queen ants lose their wings?
Queen ants have two pairs of wings that are ripped off from their tiny bodies when they reach the ground after a nuptial flight.
These muscular structures are of two different sizes; the second pair is smaller than the front ones that get removed one by one.
She uses her legs for the removal process as they are attached to the thorax region of their body. It seems brutal when she removes the wing muscles, but it is not painful for them.
She starts by changing body shape and contouring the body for easier access to the attachment point. She bends the body slightly for detachment of muscles using the legs.
One of the legs is used to get hold of it by keeping it down, while the other leg helps detach it by applying enough force.
These fertile females can easily pull them out of their bodies and drop them on the ground.
How long do queen ants take to remove their wings?
It is pretty easy for ants to get rid of useless flying muscles in a few seconds by detaching from the attachment points. They can remove their wings in only 50 to 60 seconds at maximum.
These muscles are connected to the thorax with a thin layer of tissues or pleural apodeme, which is present on the dorsal side of their bodies.
This tissue layer is connected to wings with the help of a pivot known as sclerite. It allows easier movement of the flying muscles and enables them to turn back and forth.
Furthermore, she detaches these from the sclerite or base region and sheds them off their bodies. So, this process does not take hours as they can get rid of them in seconds.
Do drone ants lose their wings?
Reproductive males or drones possess a pair of wings that can help them fly in the sky after the female when they are interested in mating or the female wants to start a new colony.
The role of male members is to transfer sperm into the female’s body and die after landing on the ground. They are not known to shed their wings like queens due to their shorter lifespan.
Drones survive for almost 6 to 8 days after mating because they are of no use to the colony and are expelled out of the nest, so that they will die due to lack of nutrition.
Furthermore, the behavior of such detachment of flying muscles is commonly observed in fertile females because they have to survive and feed the colony, unlike drones or males.
Do all queen ants lose their wings?
Most commonly, queens have wings until they have not participated in the nuptial flight for starting a new colony after leaving the old one.
The presence of flying muscles cannot be used as a potent identifier because they get removed on the flying ant day. Therefore, you can see them flying without muscular structures.
However, there is an exception for army ant colonies because their queens do not have wings, but their males possess these muscular structures.
These type of insects mate on the ground when the male insect reach her nest after detecting the scent produced when she is interested in mating.
Furthermore, the drones detect the chemicals released for mating, which come closer to her and transfer sperm into her body.