A few years ago, I had a small worker only colony (Lasius niger) of about 40. I had abducted the ants from the ground above a nest in my parents garden. When I moved from my parents I decided to release the workers back into the garden (after being captive for about 3 months).
I have often wondered if these workers were welcomed back into the colony after being MIA for so long?
What if...(hypothetically speaking) the workers were captive for a year or so, and in that time a new queen had been 'ordained'? Would the missing workers now be seen as outsiders by their old colony?
I know it is unusual for workers to last so long, alone in captivity but there must be some chance of the above scenario occurring?