Myrmecocystus placodops (Giant Honey Pot Ant)
One of natures many wonders, the Giant, bicoloured Honey Pot Ant is one of the largest species of its kind with queens measuring upto 15-16mm. Members of this species are bicoloured, specifically exhibiting a bright red head and a shiny black body. These ants are also known as Desert Honey Pot Ants as they are abundantly found in Sagebush and Saltbush deserts. Interestingly, many ant-keepers in the states have found this species to be polygynous!
As you can imagine, living in a volatile & harsh environment such as the desert, is no easy task. It is why, many organisms such as these ants, have developed certain adaptations or life strategies to ensure their survival and continued success. In this case, Honey Pot ants have developed an extremely unique trait that allows them to thrive. The replete ants!
These replete ants form part of the same caste as the worker ants. However, they have one of the most important jobs in the colony: to serve as 'living larders'. That's right, these worker ants will engorge themselves with nutritious substances until their gaster fills right up (often upto 3-4cms wide), so much so that repletes walk with great difficulty, if at all. These individuals therefore, act as storage vessels of sugar/fats and water for the colony. How cool is that?
It gets even cooler, these ants actually have the stength to cling themselves on the surface of the nests' ceiling day in, day out, waiting for the moment they regurgitate the nutrient rich food to their fellow sisters and queen.
Whilst worker ants of this species can be aggressive, they generally won't attack live food if bigger than themselves. Instead, they are known to be highly efficient scavengers and will generally accept most insects, fruits and sugary substances.
Interestingly, scientists have seen worker ants go as far as collecting the head capsules of dead Pogonomyrmex spp. ants as a food source! Talk about desperate, right?
Rather than rely on extensive foraging trails, honey pot foragers will usually dart out into different directions to maximise area covered, in search for food.
In captivity, it is important to mimic an environment similar to these semi-arid/desert environments. This means keeping inner nests at 27-30C and a relatively high humidity of 65-80%. Temperatures in the foraging area, can be slightly higher upto 32-35C. However, it is important that a water source is always present.
A 'mild' hibernation period of 2-3 months from late November is advised after the first year. During the foundation year, this is not necessary. Temperatures should replicate those of their natural environment which is 16-20C. This will enable the queen to rest from her egg laying duties.
Rearing young queens to the foundation stage can be tricky but once past this stage, they usually grow relatively quickly and can reach upto 10,000 members in a few years.
With your founding queen, you will receive a free PVA bung and tube setup to transfer your queen to. We have found that the humidity provided by these, offer a more suitable environment and much higher success rate in founding a colony.
An exciting adventure awaits, we'll be right here if you need us during your ant keeping journey.
It is illegal and strictly frowned upon to release any non-native ants into the wild.