|MadSci Network: Zoology|
As far as I can determine most ant colonies held in captivity can survive for only a short time without a queen, although they will care for the brood and make tunnels. They generally die when the last of the worker ants die. In at least some cases one of the early larvae present could be made into a new queen. The larvae would have to be fed food high in protein. However, after about 10 days (in the genus Myrmica at least) the larva is completely determined as either a new queen or a worker. Other factors include winter chilling and egg size. Of course if a queen is present she also influences the production (or lack of production) of new queens. Thus ant queens are not produced so much genetically (although they do have to come from diploid eggs- that is with two sets of chromosomes- and thus cannot be made from unfertilized haploid eggs which produce only males), but mainly by diet and other environmental factors. References: Hölldobler, B., and E. O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wilson, E. O. 1971. Insect Societies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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