Freitag, 3. Oktober 2014

Some pictures of Camponotus fulvopilosus, one of the coolest species in the world

Camponotus fulvopilosus is a fantastic species from South Africa and Namibia. These desert ants are pretty easy to keep and colonies grow quick. The nest can be kept completely dry as long as there is a water source the workers can access. Camponotus fulvopilosus have great major workers, even bigger sized than the queen.

Dienstag, 2. September 2014

Camponotus gigas colony has now four workers!

Keeping Camponotus gigas has always been my dream and since a few months, when I started with a single queen, I have the pleasure to care for this very special ants. Many believed that it wouldn't be possible to keep C. gigas. However, they already have four workers and two more will hatch soon.

They feed on sugar water and small insects and it seems like they aren't that hard to keep as people thought. The harder thing is to get them; I spent three weeks in the rainforest to find this queen and I still was really lucky to find Camponotus gigas at all. Colonies are common in the indomalayan primary rainforest, but it is impossible to dig out a whole colony successfully. Nests are usually located beneath huge trees and huge colonies have many satellite nests without even a queen inside. Camponotus gigas is supposed to be monogynous, so in a whole colony there is just one fertile queen.
The workers are able to produce a strong acid for defence, which often kills them when a big nest is disturbed or workers are collected into boxes. My experience is that even single workers in a small box often die because of their own formic acid.

It doesn't make it easier that young queens are raised in very low numbers, most of the alates produced are males. Regarding the huge areas a Camponotus gigas colony claims as territory it is not surprising that even during the mating flights, that take place only twice a year, you could go home without finding a mated queen.

However, I found two of them, but not during mating flights. Today I made a short video to show you these great giant ants:

Cheers, Phillip

Sonntag, 22. Juni 2014

Pachycondyla striata are great ponerine ants; big, fast, nice looking. I had big problems with the single queen I got three years ago, but since she had first workers, everything is going quite well with that colony. One year ago I made them a natural basin full of plants; Pachycondyla striata usually lives in forested areas, parks, etc. and forages beneath the plants in the leaf-litter.

Sometimes they even dare climbing up into the plants:

They take nearly all kind of insects, today I gave them some crickets:

Workers are carrying a cricket into their nest:

Mittwoch, 11. Juni 2014

Cataglyphis spec. (Egypt)

My Cataglyphis colony is growing pretty fast and they are about 60 workers now. This species is undetermined and I have no idea which species it could be. The workers are very polymorph and some are even bigger sized than the queen herself.

Cataglyphis are desert ants and high temperature is important for them to show their natural behavior - at the right temperature a Cataglyphis colony can grow extremely fast and mine is also doing quite well:

I used a glass plate to attach the 50W heatlamp to reduce the loss of daylight from outside to a minimum - Cataglyphis should get as much light as possible. When the sun from outside and the heat-spot heat up the sand in the formicarium, the workers fourage with ultra speed, their gaster stretched high up.

 Young larvae and eggs:

 The queen:

These young workers are still not fully colored:

Dienstag, 10. Juni 2014

Camponotus gigas: First larvae!

Yesterday I spotted the first larva, today there are already four or five small ones. :)

Although Camponotus gigas is a clautral founding species, I would strongly recommend to feed a founding queen from time to time; I sometimes offer her sugar water and small crickets, she takes both.

Look at this very special ant queen:

More larvae should appear soon!

Sonntag, 4. Mai 2014

New Camponotus gigas queens

I just came back from Malaysia and was very lucky to be able to get two Camponotus gigas queens after three weeks of searching. Although colonies of Camponotus gigas are very common in the rainforest, it is really hard to find founding queens.
So far the queens seem to be healthy, both already laid eggs; one of them has about 12 eggs!

The boxes are kept with a high humidity and temperatures between 26 and 28°C.

I hope that I'll be able to raise nice colonies of this giant ant - the biggest species in the world.

I'm also reporting progress here in more details:

Dienstag, 18. März 2014

Ectatomma tuberculatum (18.03.2014)

My Ectatomma tuberculatum colony is growing pretty slowly, there may be about ten workers at the moment I guess. But therefore this species has a very attractive colour and the workers can often be seen foraging in the overgrown formicarium.

Moss is growing all over the bottom of the basin :)
New offshoot!

A few shots of the observant and beautiful workers:

 Then she recognized me taking pictures ("Damn paparazzi!"):

Sonntag, 2. März 2014

Harvester ants: Easy to keep, fast in reproduction and nice to watch

The undetermined Messor species from North Africa I got, is growing pretty quickly. And meanwhile they're also having very nice major workers:

Dry salt and sugar are also welcomed by the ants:

Samstag, 1. März 2014

Camponotus rufipes: South American Marines

Camponotus rufipes is a very beautiful species, widespread all around the South American continent. Their red legs give a nice contrast to the matt black body. I call them "little marines" because of they are so aggressive and fearless! The colonies can become pretty huge and dominant and they are growing quickly.

My colony is still small though, because the queen is from last year's mating flights in Brazil.

Today I fed them with sugar water and they didn't stop drinking two and a half hours until all was gone (a wonder they didn't burst):

They have a pretty amazing amount of larvae, many more are concealed by the big queen: