Ant Eggs Versus Pupae


Sorry I could not find the question box, but me and my cousin were digging through a ant hole and we found ant eggs. What do they need to grow? Sunlight, coldness, what kind of environment can they live in?


Dear Alexis,

The first question I have for you is: did you collect ant eggs or ant pupae? The second question is:  did you collect worker ants too?

Ant eggs are tiny (much smaller than worker ants), white, shiny and oval.


You can see a pile of ant eggs in this photograph in the middle and a little to the left.

Ant pupae are as large or even larger than worker ants and often have a beige silken sac around them.


They also have a black dot at the end.

If you have eggs, then you will really need worker ants to take care of them. The larvae that hatch from the eggs will need workers to feed them, clean them etc. The larvae are helpless.  I have a post about ant larvae, if you’d like to learn more. And just so you know, there is a chance the workers will eat the eggs.

If you have pupae, they could become worker ants. Again, they will do better if there are some worker ants to take care of them. Without a queen, they will not live as long as they would in nature.

In their nest under the ground, the ants normally grow up in dark, moist and relatively moderate temperatures.

I am glad you are interested in ants. Let me know whether you have eggs or pupae.

(Note: As I mentioned previously, I have been the “Consult-Ant” on the Leaping from the Box website. I answer questions about ants and ant farms. From now on I will post the answers here, and when Karen has time she will also post the answers on her site.)

31 Replies to “Ant Eggs Versus Pupae”

  1. I found a queen ant and put here in our gel ant farm and she has laid eggs. It has been 2 months now and they have not hatched. Something is not working and I wonder why they are not growing? Any help would be great.

  2. Two months does seem like a long time for the eggs not to have hatched. Ant eggs generally hatch in two to three weeks, although it varies with species and temperature.

    Potential problems could be you have the temperature too low. Are you holding them at room temperature? Is the queen active at all?

    Sometimes a queen will lay eggs that aren’t viable, but since you don’t have “good eggs” to compare, it might be hard to tell. Are they clean and shiny? Eggs are susceptible to molds and bacteria, and become dull and cloudy when they aren’t healthy.

    Although the gel farms look cool, they aren’t optimal environments for ants. You might want to look into a test tube design (see the recent “Feeding Ant Queens” post for a video of what this looks like.)

    Good luck and let me know what happens.

    Anyone else out there have any ideas?

  3. Roberta, The ant eggs did not hatch after months. We then put new ants in with the queen and she killed them all and she got hurt and eventually died.

    This year we have 2 new queens that we found outside again. One with wings and one without. One of them laid about 10 eggs and seems to hover around them and nuzzle up to them with her head every so often. I hope she is feeding them. Both ants get along which is nice. What do I need to be successful for these ants to live and grow into larvae and eventually ants?

  4. Have you taken a look at the article about test tube ant nests? It shows how to make a simple ant farm. There are also links in the article to other pages with a lot of information about different ant farms.

    Your ant with wings may not have mated. If that is the case, when the new workers hatch they might not tolerate her as well as the other queen has been. Just depends on the kind of ant you have.

  5. I have the queen and eggs in a gel colony right now. Is that not good enough for the eggs to hatch and sustain a colony in it? If the eggs do not hatch again this time what does that mean? I supect she has mated since she does not have wings and she is laying eggs right? Should I get rid of the ant with the wings? She is very friendly and I have hopes she will be freinds with any of the eggs if they hatch

  6. I wouldn’t get rid of your second queen right away, if the two seem to be getting along. Just be on the look out for problems when/if workers hatch.

    As for the gel ant farm, they weren’t really designed for keeping an actual ant colony. The gel was designed to keep a few ants alive in space for a couple of weeks and because it looks cool, various manufacturers continue to sell it. You really need to move you ants into something else if you want them to do well over the long term.

  7. I plan on moving them to a bigger and better place if the colony actually starts to grow. If the eggs hatch and I start to get more than a couple dozen ants you are right I will need to have a better colony for them. As of now I have not had much luck of eggs hatching so I will keep my fingers crossed and worry about that after the new ones come out.

  8. Ant pupae are dropping from my ceiling—ack! I can’t seem to find the opening they are dropping from. How can I get rid of them?

  9. Gel formicariums are definitely not the way to go for a developing colony. While the box may say that they provide ants with the required moisture and nutrition needed to keep them alive it provides absolutely no protein which is needed by the larvae to mature and grow. On a side note the gel in those formicariums can easily start to mold over and eventually kill your entire colony. Test tube rearing is definitely the way to go for starting a colony, if you don’t have access to test tubes a good alternative would be plastic tubing that you can buy at most hardware stores.

  10. You might want to contact your local Cooperative Extension office for information and help with identification.

  11. What happens to the silken sac around the pupae? On my interior porch there is a large pile of these sacs that I think are the empty pupae sacs and there is also always a few dead ants in the pile. I haven’t been able to find where they are coming from. If I vacuum them up there are always more the next day. Help!

  12. Melinda,

    When the adult ants emerge from the sac (cocoon), the worker ants discard them. That might be what you are seeing. They also discard dead ants, so that could be the ants’ trash heap that you have spotted.

    Just be aware, some spiders build silken sacs that are somewhat similar to ant cocoons, too. Problem they wouldn’t be in a pile, though.

  13. I found the strangest thing yesterday. Under my microvawe (that i never use) i found a storm of ants with those white little eggs you call ant pupae iwas so freaked out, there were thousands of ants i coukdnt believe my eyes have never seen it before. My question is where in the world did they come from as i just recently moved into my new place and im sure i would’ve seen them by moving the microvave around? i dont understand why they would take the eggs there as i know they breed underground. please explain how this could happen so suddenly? i came home from work when i saw this….

  14. Without knowing more, I’m not sure how much I can offer. If you live in the U.S., you might want to see if you have a Cooperative Extension office nearby. Many Cooperative Extension offices have volunteers or staff who can help with questions about insects and plants. Ask them if you can send or bring in a sample.

  15. the ants found under the microwave doesnt suprise me. the ants were problably nesting in the house alrdy b4 u got there. ants think of ur house as a warm foodridden place which makes them want to live there. they thought the microwave was a good place to nest so BAM-they moved under it!

  16. I have a queen ant and she has workers .She also has larvae. Im using a miltons ant farm .Is it a good ant farm?

  17. It depends on how big your ants are and what kind they are. Do you know anything about them? Typically, the Milton’s ant farms are more for show and are hard to keep moist enough to keep the ants healthy over a long time.

    In this post I show how scientists keep ants and have links to a lot of other places to get information about ant farms:

    Good luck!

  18. You mean pupae? I do not know where you live, but sometimes you can get them at Asian markets where they are used as food.

  19. I have an ant question! (With photo links!)

    Hello there!
    I recently captured a few queen ants during their nuptial flight this past August and I would like to know what species of ant this ant belongs to.

    A little background information. I live in the Mojave desert, in the most Southern part. I am at an elevation of about 4,000ft and in the transition habitat between pinyon/juniper and pine. The workers are yellow/orange and are nocturnal. I’ve seen these ants feeding on nectar and small insects. Their nuptial flight took place at dusk after an afternoon thunderstorm.

    Anyways, I think this species is a Myrmecocystus mexicanus, but a few others have mentioned that they are either M.testaceus or M.navajo. I’m so confused because all three sub species look the same! Here are links to two photos. Any information will be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

  20. Recently last night I caught several ants, larvae and eggs. I don’t think I caught the queen but I am hoping that one of the eggs or larvae will be a queen so that she can mate and then ill discard the dirt and get a fresh new batch with just the new queen. But I have question, all the ants I are here have a black bottom. But there is another ant here that is the same size and shape but with a golden colored bottom. I find it strange because it is getting along with the other ants and it is helping with the eggs and dig the wholes. But why is it golden and not black?

  21. The ant could be different colored for one of two reasons. First of all, when the worker ants first come out of the pupae, they are lighter colored. Sometimes the coloring difference is significant. So, the golden one might just be very young.

    The second reason worker ants can differ in color within a single nest is that sometimes one kind of ant will raid pupae from another species of ant. Those have been called slavemaker ants in the past (although some people would like to change that name to pirate ants or something else).

  22. Okay, I’ve noticed that a lot of people posting here are absolute idiots concerning ant keeping, please just do the tiniest bit of research before attempting to keep these wonderful creatures.
    Firstly DO NOT keep ant queens in gel ant farms this is cruel and there is a 100% chance of colony failure as the gel can’t sustain ant larvae.
    Secondly Queens don’t just hatch specially!!! Queens occur when larvae are fed more food than normal and after then they require special weather conditions for them to go outside and mate, they don’t just go and mate as soon they have hatched! Especially when there aren’t any makes to mate with.
    Also you can’t just go out and buy 1kg of ant eggs that’s not how it works

  23. 1) Assuming my room dont have any ants but my leg accidentally step on ant trail at other place & thus few ants stick on my leg, although they found food in my room, how many days will those ants die? Or will they reproduce new colony of ants in my room?

    2) if i m at some places that have ants trail, & i didnt know that & my leg stain few ants & those ants happen to carry their egg & larva around so i accidentally brought them to my room, although found food in my room, will those ants egg & larva become queen & thus form new colony in my room? can that happen?

  24. 1. If you accidentally carry home a few worker ants, they probably won’t live long. Without a queen, they can’t found a new colony, either.

    2. Even if they had a few larvae or pupae, the workers would probably eat them. They wouldn’t grow a queen from them.

  25. hi, that day i asked ‘ if i m at some places that have ants trail, & i didnt know that & my leg stain few ants & those ants happen to carry their egg & larva around so i accidentally brought them to my room, although found food in my room, will those ants egg & larva become queen & thus form new colony in my room? can that happen? ” u said Even if they had a few larvae or pupae, the workers would probably eat them. They wouldn’t grow a queen from them.

    1) i wonder why would those workers ants eat them? assuming those larvae & pupae are born to be queen, coz i heard there’ll be some batch of egg is queen & those worker ant should have responsibility to take care & feed the larva & pupae with food

    2) how you know they will eat them? what makes you think that?

  26. Have you ever been in a classroom and the teacher goes out for awhile. Do the kids start to misbehave sometimes?

    Ants are kind of like that when they aren’t with their queen. They don’t do their chores and if they are hungry, they are likely to eat the eggs, larvae, and pupae. Although you say there is food in your room, it may or may not be what they eat or what they are hungry for.

    2) As for what makes me think that: I’ve done experiments where I’ve kept small groups of worker ants. When I count the larvae and pupae every day, often they disappear and no new ants appear. In fact, worker ants may eat eggs (cannibalize them) even when the queen is present.

  27. hi, thanks for your reply.
    1) So u said u hve done experiments where I’ve kept small groups of worker ants. When I count the larvae and pupae every day, often they disappear and no new ants appear. In fact, worker ants may eat eggs (cannibalize them) even when the queen is present. i wonder what kind species is the ant?
    the small group of ants is how many ants did u put there?

    2) So if queen ant came out, we accidentally brought to other places..Can they rebuild new colony?
    So besides worker ant, if soldiers ant or any ant brought to other place can they build colony?

  28. Hi, if pest control spray the class 3 maxxthor chemical for killing ants, with no smell chemical, they spray at some area where hav ants area, will the queen ant spread their colony to few more colony? & few more new queen?

    heard some residue spray will spread their colony but this one no smell so mayb they wont spread

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