Obviously this depends on the species so I will narrow it down to the main genera where I live in Calgary, AB: Formica, Lasius, and Camponotus.
I am a pest control technician and I have to take care of carpenter ants in peoples homes. As I understand it, and please correct me if I'm wrong, a large carpenter ant nest will have a main nest where the queen resides and then satellite nests elsewhere. The queen will lay the eggs and the workers actually carry the eggs (or maybe the larvae or pupae) to the satellite nest and raise them there.
The main nest is almost always outside and is usually easy for me to take care of but the satellite nests are sometimes in peoples homes. The satellite nests may be behind walls or in the floor so they may not always be so easy to remove. Once I take care of the main nest, what will happen to the satellite nest? How long can the worker ants survive without any reinforcements? In one house I did, I thought I sealed the house and eliminated the main nest outside and assumed the worker ants would die off inside the house and I wouldn't have to tear out any drywall or do any major work. The ants continued showing up inside this poor couples house for over a year. I wasn't sure if I had failed to find the main nest and they were still coming in or if the ants were just surviving.
I am mostly curious about Camponotus for that reason but I want to start a discussion about this regarding all sorts of ants! I have heard some crazy stories about queens lasting for years and years but does anyone have any stories about long living workers? Does the queen have an effect on the survival of any one worker ant? i.e. If a queen dies in a nest will the workers have a shorter lifespan?
Sorry for all the questions but it is an interesting topic!