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As wireless sensor networks (WSNs) increasingly attract more attention, new ideas for specific applications are continually being developed, many of which involve the energy consumption of nodes. However, not much has been done to optimize the quality of services (QoS) of WSNs. Many applications like target tracking require some QoS guarantees. Besides, certain factors limit the ability of multi-hop sensor networks to achieve desired goals such as the delay caused by network congestion, limited energy and computation of sensor nodes, packet loss due to interferences and mobility. In this paper, an adaptive QoS and energy-aware routing approach is proposed using an improved ant colony algorithm for WSNs to not only meet QoS requirements in an energy-aware fashion, but also balance the node energy utilization to maximize the network lifetime. Extensive simulation results under various experimental settings demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm in terms of packet delivery rate, load balance, and the delay in comparison to the existing state-of-the-art directed diffusion routing algorithm.