Why Are Queen Ants So Expensive?

Some people like to build their old formicarium and get a queen ant to keep it running for many years, but they have to pay an extra amount as these are costly.

Why Are Queen Ants So Expensive? Queen ants are so expensive as these are present in small numbers, and most of their colonies have one or two queens, but they have a longer lifespan. Therefore, they need extra care for survival and are illegal to buy. Moreover, these rarely come out of the nest and are challenging to catch. Furthermore, they are costly because they can reproduce and start a new colony.

Queen ants are not only different in appearance and functions from other members, but the sellers provide them at a high cost as they know about her royalty.

What makes queen ants expensive?

Queen ants are the royal members of the colony with a distinct caste due to their large size and different functionality.

It is considered the mother of all workers, princesses, and males, as this is the only member that lays eggs and produces new larvae.

Small number

Every ant colony has different castes based on males or drones, workers, larvae, and queen ants with varying numbers and functions.

A significant part of the colony consists of workers that are major players in a colony as they are involved in nest cleaning, foraging, food collection, and protecting larvae and queens.

However, these are small in number as each nest contains one or two mothers responsible for the propagation of the population.

The female larvae are produced after fertilization, and unfertilized ones become males. Fertilizing eggs with sperm is required to produce females; that’s why these are smaller.

Therefore, their small number makes them expensive as these are not commonly found like sterile female workers.

Difficult to catch

Mother ants remain deep inside the nest and choose the innermost chamber in a tunnel to live in a relaxing environment.

Moreover, these do not frequently come out of the nest like workers, as their task is to live inside and produce eggs.

You can see them close to the nest’s entry points during mating season when they fly higher in the air to mate with male partners.

Catching large queen ants is difficult as you have to dig deep down into the tunnel to reach their chamber.

Longer lifespan

They generally have longer lifespans than other colony members, which makes them expensive. For example, black ants can live for almost 20 to 25 years, while fire ants can survive for 5 to 7 years.

Similarly, the queen weaver ant can live for even decades if she has no threat of attack or the environment favors its survival, but other workers have to die within 4 to 6 weeks.

In addition, the sugar ant males can live for up to 15 to 25 days, while the workers and reproductive females have a longer lifespan of almost 8 years and 14 years.

Therefore, these are expensive, but it is a one-time investment as mothers will not die quickly, unlike workers that can only survive for weeks or years.

Responsible for colony survival

A queen ant can start a new colony from scratch as it reaches a spot other than the old colony after the nuptial flight. She sheds her wings after mating, gets nutrients from her wings, and lays eggs.

These eggs will turn into larvae after a few days and become adult workers and males. However, the male ants have a shorter lifespan and die quickly compared to workers that can live for a few weeks.

Moreover, she ensures the continuity of an ant population by replacing the dying members with new larvae even without mating multiple times, as these can store sperms in their pouch.

It keeps fertilizing the eggs by releasing sperm from the pouch, and a healthy or competent queen can produce around 2000 to 2500 eggs in a day.

Need extra care

Queens are royal members of the colony as workers and soldiers protect her against predator attacks. It is essential to keep her safe as the whole territory depends on the queen.

It does not mean she carries out all the functions from foraging to egg production, but it controls the growth of the population.

Moreover, she does not go out of the nest to get food as the workers collect food and feed her by regurgitation. It is challenging to take care of her in an artificial habitat as she needs more attention.

A newly mated queen ant requires a clean water source, plenty of food, and a warm climate to lay eggs. In addition, you have to provide suitable habitat to make her lay eggs that will turn into larvae and adults.

So, the maintenance of habitat requires good money; that’s why you have to purchase them at high rates.

Illegal to buy

It is illegal to buy queen ants in the United States as many distributors are part of the black market, and only a few real sellers exist.

A few online platforms and physical stores have gotten permits from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell these insects and make money.

Only a few private distributors have the permit in addition to official government sellers, making it challenging to get legally acquired insects.

When there is limited stock, the prices of products automatically increase. In the same way, you have to purchase queens at a high cost because a few dealers are there that are legally allowed to sell them.

Examples of Queen Ants with their cost, scientific name, and size

Type of Queen Ant Scientific name Cost Size
Funnel ant Aphaenogaster longiceps $45 8 to 10 mm
Jumper jack ant Myrmecia nigrocinta $230 15 to 20 mm
Black pavement ant Iridomyrmex bicknelli $27 5 to 7 mm
Green head ants Rhytidoponera aspersa $62 6 to 7 mm
Bull ant Myrmecia forficata $120 20 to 40 mm
Sugar ant Componotus Consobrinus $55 15 to 20 mm
Big headed ants Pheidole megacephala $25 5 to 7 mm
Meat ant Iridomyrmex purpureus $46 10 to 14 mm
Green weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina $58 22 to 25 mm
Golden spiny ant Polyrhachis ammon $84 10 to 12 mm

What is the average cost of queen ants?

On average, you can get queen ants from authorized private sellers and government companies at around $20 to $60.

It sounds expensive, but you have to put them inside a formicarium for once due to their longer lifespan. This cost varies according to their species and the time of year.

In addition, the type of producer also determines their cost, as private online sellers can charge a few extra dollars for shipping.

You can get ants belonging to sugar ant species for almost $55, but a common household pavement ant is available at a low cost of around $27.

Furthermore, the rare species of queen ants are more costly; as you can see, the jumper jack and bull ant queens are available at almost $230 and $120.

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