There are a few collective nouns used to call a group of ants. These nouns include colony, army, and swarm. Usage of these nouns varies depending on context.
In this article, we’ll learn more about these nouns as we break down when they’re used.
Colony of Ants
Ants are social insects that live in organized communities known as colonies. These colonies vary in size. Depending on the species, they may contain a hundred to millions of individuals.
Ant colonies consist of different castes or classes of ants. These castes include queens, workers, and drones.
Queens are generally responsible for colony founding and reproduction. They establish new colonies and grow them by laying thousands of eggs.
Workers, on the other hand, are sterile females. They surrender their reproductive rights and help the queens instead. They do everything from collecting food, nest maintenance, and protecting the colony.
Lastly, drones are male reproductive ants. Their sole task it to mate with virgin queens and help establish new colonies. They often don’t live long and die after reproduction. Hence, they’re sometimes described as single-use sperm.
Together, these castes work together to help the colony grow and survive.
See this article to learn more about ant colonies and their structure.
Army of Ants
The collective noun army refers to ants marching on the ground. These ants are workers going about their daily activities. You’ll usually see these workers walking in straight lines as they follow a trail.
An army of ants is not the same as army ants. The latter refers to a group of highly aggressive predatory ant species. See this article to learn more about army ants.
Swarm of Ants
A swarm of ants refers to winged reproductive ants. They include virgin queens and drones.
At certain times of the year, these reproductives leave their nests to participate in the nuptial flight. This is a mating flight wherein reproductives from different colonies swarm to mate. It’s a form of dispersal and reproductive strategy for establishing new colonies. See this article to learn more about how ants reproduce.
Nuptial flights often occur in the late spring or early summer. You’re likely to find these swarms within 24 hours after moderate or heavy rainfall on warm, humid days.
Summary: What is a Group of Ants Called?
To summarize, a group of ants are called differently based on the context. In general, they’re called a colony based on their social structure. However, they’re also sometimes referred to as army or swarm.
An army of ants refers to worker ants on the ground. On the other hand, a swarm of ants refers to winged reproductives.