Ants Pheidole

Brief information about the species

There may be several Q in the colonies.
Size: workers: 2-4 mm, soldiers: 6-7 mm, queen: 7-9 mm.
Colony size: up to 100,000 workers.
Usually these are small but very aggressive ants.
Diet: live insects, dead insects, sugar syrup, various sweet natural substances
Wintering: not required
They like to run away.

    What are Pheidole ants famous for? First of all, from polymorphism, because representatives of this species in colonies have larger individuals with large heads and strong jaws called soldiers, and workers - small individuals that always constitute the majority in the anthill. All the hardships of ants' life fall on these little workers: they look for food, hunt, build, take care of their offspring. Soldiers, on the other hand, have a different task - they help workers divide large pieces of food to make it easier to transport them to the anthill, grind hard seeds (yes, all Pheidole are partially grain-eating ants, although to a lesser extent than the Messor species) and store fat.
    Pheidole have one more interesting feature - they are unpretentious in the selection of food, but they reproduce very quickly and exchange successive generations.
    1. Pheidole pallidula
    The habitats of this species are limited to steppe and semi-arid areas, where vegetation is poor and the animal world is not rich. Such harsh conditions made these ants true Spartans, adapted to survive and eat what is available, namely the carcasses of various invertebrates (sometimes even vertebrates) and seeds. These ants are yellow and light brown in color, which makes them invisible against the background of sand and dry clay.

    Their anthills are quite deep - often their vertical passages reach the aquifer (the valuable moisture obtained by ants contributes to their survival in such a simple way.)

    As already mentioned, Pheidole pallidula is characterized by polymorphism. However, there are no transitional forms - the ant in the family is either a worker or a soldier.

    The task of small workers (up to 2 mm) is foraging, feeding the larvae and the queen, and the larger soldiers (approx. 4 mm) help them dig tunnels (their strong jaws are very helpful in this), secure the nest and grind the seeds.

    Despite the fact that in nature, the Pheidole pallidula carbohydrate diet consists only of seeds (with a small admixture of flower nectar and aphids), they are happy to eat honey or sugar syrup at home.
    2. Pheidole yeensis
    This species came to us from China, because the species range covers the whole of Southeast Asia. They are darker than pallidula and also slightly larger than them. At home, Pheidole yeensis are one of the most common breeding species. How did Yensis deserve such treatment?

    First of all, they easily adapt to changing conditions, reproduce quickly and feel great both in the forest and in urban conditions, including our formicaria.
    Relative to many other Pheidols, they are characterized by aggressive behavior. They easily hunt live prey and often destroy the nests of other ants competing for food. Although the Yensis workers are as small as the rest of the family, the soldiers are powerful (about 7 mm) with powerful jaws and a large head. They are not only busy guarding the nest, but are also actively hunting.

    The hunting process itself is very harmonious, with a clear interaction between small and large individuals: foraging workers find a large insect, such as a grasshopper or a cockroach, leave a trail and rush home.
    A crowd of ants (including soldiers, especially the old and experienced) leave the anthill and follow the scent of the pheromone and catch the victim.
    If everything goes according to their wishes, and the size of the insect allows it - a whole column of hunters carries the prey to the nest, and if it is very large, the soldiers immediately cut the prey to pieces, and their little helpers drag them into the anthill.

    3. Pheidole nodus
    Externally, this species is very similar to the previous ones, but there are differences. They are also visitors from Asia, but mostly not China, but Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. An interesting fact is their very long legs - this feature of construction helps the ants withstand short periods of tropical rainfall, when the soil is flooded and insects literally have to move in the liquid mud.
    These ants also walk on water, therefore the workers of Pheidole noda in case of flooding hold their legs, creating a living raft, thus helping the queen and the brood to escape in case of flooding the nest. These ants build their nests not only in the ground, but also wherever they can - in rock crevices, empty coconuts that have fallen to the ground, bamboo stalks and rotten logs. Their diet is based on protein, but sometimes they enjoy eating fresh, juicy fruit and coconut pulp, literally eating the passages from them, which are then used to keep and store offspring.
    Often commercially available colonies of this and previous species have not one queen but two or more. Sometimes this is an indicator of true polygamy, but usually only one of the queens is fully productive, while the rest are ex-winged females who for some reason did not have time to fly away and are now forced to act as soldiers.

    Only three species of Pheidole ants are presented here, there are of course others, but they are difficult to buy. But even if you buy a completely different subspecies about which there is absolutely no information, it does not matter, as the breeding conditions for all ants of this genus are identical.

    What is needed for our insects to be active and reproduce properly?
    First of all, proper nutrition is important. Workers of these species do not live very long, so the family is simply obliged to quickly replenish and cover the losses caused by their death with high fertility. A very large number of growing larvae require a huge amount of protein feed. Therefore, a large and developed colony can eat a dozen or so adult cockroaches a day, and even more! Carbohydrates absorbed by ants in the form of seeds, fruit and syrup (be careful with this) are not as important as protein feed. Ants can live on marble cockroaches and / or mealworms alone, but will do better if their diet is varied. And the variety is that other species of cockroaches, crickets, flies, and anything else in general can be included in the diet because at its peak it will eat eggs, meat, sausage, shrimp, and even mice and rats. The most important thing here is to have time to feed the insects in a timely manner, otherwise they may try to find food themselves.

    And here we come to another important point - when breeding Pheidols, you should make sure that they do not run away. Although these are not races at all, but rather hiking trips for food (the queen and broods remain in the formicaria, only the gatherers come out), the formed column of these ants can cause a lot of trouble at home, so you should always smear the edges of the arena with a special agent or use a cover .

    These ants do not have any special housing requirements.
    They feel good in both plaster and acrylic - a wooden formicarium is unlikely to be suitable for this species.
    Food and capacious formicaria are two ingredients of success, considering that the Pheidole colony will feel good, gradually develop and delight its owner for many years.

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