The reproduction cycle in Paraponera clavata is a process that is common throughout the genus, Camponotera, that it belongs to. The entire ant colony is focused around the queen ant, whose main purpose in life is to reproduce. During a queen’s brief mating period, she will mate with several male ants. She carries the sperm internally in a pouch located on her abdomen called the spermatheca, where sperm remain unable to move until she opens a specific valve allowing the sperm to move through her reproductive system and fertilize her eggs. The queen ant has the ability to control the sex of her offspring . Any of her fertilized eggs will grow to be female, worker ants, and the unfertilized eggs will be males who’s sole purpose in life is to fertilize a virgin queen, in which they will die soon after.  These virgin queens are only produced when there a significant amount of worker ants that will ensure for the expansion of the colony.  The queens of each colony, whether virgin or not, live much longer lives than that of their worker ants (Tom, 2013) (Breed, 1988).

Male Bullet Ant         Queen Bullet Ant                      

The first step of the mating process is called nuptial flights, in which the males and virgin queen ants will leave the nest in a large swarm. After the mating process is finished, both the queen and male ants will lose their wings. Shortly after, the queen ant will go off by herself in search of a new place to begin her new nest and colony. She digs a space for her eggs, and raises her first offspring, consisting of all worker ants, by herself. After these worker ants have grown, they are in charge of expanding the nest and moving newer eggs to specialized chambers. Once these eggs have hatched they turn into larvae surrounded in a protective cocoon until the adult ant is ready to emerge (these are mainly worker ants).

The next stage in the colony is called the ergonomic stage in which the workers are entirely devoted to the expansion of their nest and colony. It may take as little as one season or even up to five years for the colony to have grown large enough to enter into the reproductive stage again, in which the queen ant will begin to produce virgin queens and male ants that will then begin the whole process over again.

It includes four stages within its life cycle including the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are quite small and oval in shape. Throughout the larva stage, the organism is worm-like and has no eyes or legs and are cleaned and fed regurgitated food from the worker ants. The larvae will shed their skin several times in order for growth to occur. After reaching a certain size in the larvae stage, the larva will spin a cocoon all around itself in a small chamber, and then proceed to pupate. This means that the body will undergo metamorphosis and transform into its adult body form. Once this is complete, the adult ant will emerge from its cocoon. This entire life cycle process lasts between six and ten weeks (Col, 2002).

The four stage life cycle of the Bullet Ant

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