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How Big is a Queen Ant? (Vs. Worker Ants)

If you’ve ever seen a queen ant, you might have wondered how big she is compared to the other ants in her colony. After all, the queen is the largest ant in the colony, and she’s also the one who lays all the eggs. So, just how big is a queen ant? On average, a queen ant is about 20% to 50% larger than a worker ant.

However, there can be quite a bit of variation in size between different species of ants. For instance, some species, such as the bullet ant, have queens that are almost twice as large as their workers! No matter what species of ant you’re looking at, though, one thing is for sure: the queen is always the biggest ant in the colony.

How Big is a Queen Ant?

Queen ants measure an average of 0.31 inches or 8mm. However, they can grow as huge as 32 inches or 52 mm. The queen ant can grow 2 to 4 times the size of the worker ants.

A great example of how big a queen ant can get is the African driver ant and the Carpenter ant. The average size of an African driver ant worker is about 0.12 inches or three mm. However, their queens can grow up to six inches or 15 cm long!

On the other hand, a carpenter ant queen can grow up to 0.9 inches or 17 mm long, while the workers only reach about 0.2 to 0.4 inches ( 5.0 to 10.6 mm) long.

How to Identify a Queen Ant

Ants are hardworking insects that live in colonies. The colony comprises three types of ants: the queen, the workers, and the soldiers. The queen is the largest ant in the colony, and she is the only ant that can lay eggs.

Queen and worker ants
Queen and worker ants | Image by Pam Carter from Pixabay

The workers are smaller than the queen, and they take care of the eggs and the larvae. The soldiers are the biggest ants in the colony, and their job is to protect the colony from predators.

If you find an ant in your house, it is probably a worker ant. But how can you tell if it is a queen ant? Here are some things to look for:

  • The queen ant is larger than the workers and has a rounded abdomen. The workers have a slender abdomen and are smaller than the queen. If you see an ant with a large abdomen, it is probably a queen.
  • The queen ant has two wings, while the workers only have one pair of wings. If you see an ant with two pairs of wings, it is probably the queen.
  • The queen ant lays eggs while the workers do not. If you see an ant carrying an egg, it is probably a queen.
  • Queen ants often have an army of ants around them for protection.
  • Queen ants are usually found in the nest, while workers can be found anywhere in the colony. If you see an ant in the nest, it is probably a queen.

Sizes of Different Species of Ants

There are many species of ants in the U.S., and they vary in size. The largest ant species is the bullhorn acacia ant, which can grow to be about 0.75 inches long.

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On the other end of the spectrum, there are ants like the pharaoh ant that only grow to be about 0.03 inches long. So, how do these ants compare to their queen in size? Below is a comparison:

Bullet Ant Size

Bullet ant on leaf
Bullet ant on leaf | image by Dick Culbert via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Bullet ants are reddish-black in color and are one of the largest ant species in the world. The average size of a bullet ant is 0.7-1.18 inches (18 to 30 mm) long, with queens reaching up to 0.51 inches. So, the queen is more than twice the size of a worker bullet ant!

Fire Ant Size

Fire ants are a species of stinging ant native to South America. They vary in size, with workers typically measuring 0.08-0.24 inches (about two to six millimeters) long and queens measuring 0.24-0.51 inches (about six to thirteen millimeters) long. So, the queen fire ant is about twice the size of a worker fire ant.

Red fire ant on blue
Red fire ant on blue | image by Insects Unlocked via Flickr

Pharaoh Ant Size

The Pharaoh ant is a small yellow and is native to Africa. Workers typically measure 0.03-0.08 inches (about 0.76 to two millimeters) long, and queen measures 0.08-0.11 inches (about two to three millimeters) long. So, the Pharaoh’s ant queen is only slightly larger than her workers.

Pharaoh ant
Pharaoh ant | image by Animal Diversity Web via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

As you can see, there is a wide range of sizes when it comes to ants and their queens. The size of the queen often depends on the species of ant, with some queens being much larger than their workers and some only being slightly larger.

Why Are Queen Ants Bigger Than the Rest of the Ants?

There are two main reasons why queen ants are typically much larger than the rest of the ants in their colony. These include:

Reproduction

In most ant species, the queen ant is responsible for reproduction. This means she needs to be big enough to store all the eggs she will lay.

The queen can live for up to 20 years and produce millions of offspring throughout her lifetime. In fact, a queen ant can lay up to 300,000 eggs in just a few days.

The reproductive process begins when the queen mates with a male drone ant. During this process, the drone transfers the queen’s Wingless gene to her, which ensures that all of her offspring will be female.

The queen then stores the sperm in a special organ called the spermatheca, which is located near her ovaries. When she is ready to lay an egg, she releases a single sperm from the spermatheca and fertilizes the egg with it.

The fertilized egg develops into a larva, which eventually matures into an adult ant. Because the queen produces so many offspring throughout her lifetime, she must consume large quantities of food.

This helps to explain why queen ants are typically much larger than their worker counterparts. Consequently, the reproduction process plays an essential role in determining the size of the queen ant.

Food

Another reason queen ants are quite large is their access to food. In most ant colonies, the queen has first dibs on the food. This is because she needs to consume large quantities of food in order to produce all those eggs!

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Ant and forest beetle
Ant and forest beetle | Image by Pam Carter from Pixabay

The worker ants typically bring food back to the nest and offer it to the queen. If there is extra food, the workers may also eat it. However, they will always make sure that the queen is well-fed before they eat anything themselves.

Their Colony Environment

The environment surrounding the ant’s colony can also affect how big the queen ant grows. For example, colonies in warm climatic regions often have smaller-sized ants with long life spans, while those in cold environments often produce larger queen ants with shorter life spans.

This is because the larger ants need more food to stay alive in the cold weather, and their bodies are not as efficient at converting food into energy.