The ant colony has a life cycle with three stages: the founding stage, growth stage, and reproductive stage.
A colony is founded when a newly-mated queen tears off its wings, then burrows underground. There she will lay a set of eggs which will become the colony's first workers. The larval workers are fed reserves stored in the queen's body. Once the workers have reached maturity, they will venture out of the nest in search of food, marking the start of the colony's growth stage.
During the growth stage, workers gather food and expand the nest, while the queen produces more workers. Once the colony has reached its target population size, the colony enters the reproductive stage.