Raising a child is a full time job, even with one mouth to feed -- so just imagine all the work it takes to rear hundreds of thousands of them. Ants can be found nearly everywhere on the planet, but behind each one of those six-legged crawlers is a mother who tenderly brought it into the world, just like yours did. In this amazing up-close footage of an ant nursery, we see the great care given to the birth of a member of the colony. Though they may be numerous (and occasionally unwelcome), it's important to remember that even ants have a mother, too.YouTube user xGozzax offers this remarkable peek into the first moments of life of a Lasius Niger ant -- demonstrating that even the smallest of creatures are doted upon with a surprising amount of affection.
Behind every ant colony is at least one queen whose main purpose is to reproduce. After a single 'mating flight' early in life, the queen ant collects enough sperm with which to create thousands of offspring -- though, when it comes to starting a family, she leaves little up to chance. Only eggs that she chooses to fertilize will result in females, while unfertilized eggs always result in males. Depending on a chemical process controlled by the queen, she can produce offspring specifically designed to serve the numerous role required to sustain the colony.
And queen ants have long-lives, too, far exceeding their young. While the members of most species of ants typically live for around 45 - 60 days, some queens are thought to live for decades. In fact, one Lasius Niger queen kept in captivity was able to reach the ripe old age of 29.
Over the course of their lifetimes, queens produce a mind-boggling number of offspring -- like the South American leaf-cutter queen, which can give birth to some 150 million ant babies.
With such a busy schedule of laying eggs, queen ants with established colonies enlist the help of workers to watch over her offspring, ensuring they are kept at an ideal temperature and provided with adequate nutrients to survive. It takes around 8 to 12 weeks from egg to adulthood, as new ants pass through a series of developmental stages. Once hatched, new ants start to take on their new roles within the colony, gradually taking on other duties as they mature.
To the untrained observer, ant colonies may appear to be a cold and crowded place, though behind every member, there's a not just a queen, but a mother too.
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