Harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex
The life cycle of ants is an example of complete metamorphosis - egg,
larva, pupa, and adult. In each colony there is usually only one
queen and a few reproductive males and females called swarmers that are
produced after several years of a colony being established.
Mating takes place in May to June in flight by these reproductive
swarmer ants. Shortly after mating, the male dies. Each
fertilized female (a future queen) loses her wings and selects a
nesting site. The eggs are small, white, and oval. They
hatch into larvae which are nourished by the queen until they
pupate. After the first offspring emerge as adults, these
wingless workers begin to take care of the queen and her subsequent
offspring. During periods of warm temperatures, the entire cycle
from egg to adult can be completed in three months. Ant colonies
survive for as long as the queen lives. While worker ants may
live for a month or two, queens can live up to 15 or 20
years. Mature colonies may have thousands or even millions
of individuals enlarging the colony, foraging for food, or caring for
Availability: These need to be
ordered and will be available after spring break. Many ant
species can be huge pests.
Because of this, you will receive colonies of workers with the queen
removed, so if they do escape, they cannot become established.
The workers may build tunnels and lay eggs; however, all the offspring
will be males. Without a queen, the colony will not be permanent.
Housing: Place ants in a
plastic or glass covered container (can be an ant farm if you find one)
with soil. Control of moisture is critical. A dry
culture will soon die. A water-saturated culture will mold,
producing foul conditions which are unsuitable for ants. If the
container is too damp, use a fine mesh screen as a temporary cover to
allow moisture to escape. Remove any mold; however, if there is
extensive mold, move the ants to a fresh container with a very small
piece of potato or apple for food and moisture. If the culture
seems too dry, add damp paper, cooton, or sponge to the
container. Check frequently to
determine the moisture condition. The ants will dig tunnels in
the soil for their colony to live in. If you want to see the ants
in action, you should have a very thin clear container, like an ant
farm, for them to live in.
Food: Feed them bits of
vegetable, fruit, raw meat, or dry cereal, but remove any uneaten food
before it molds. They particular like sweet things, so a cotton
ball soaked in a 10% sugar water solution will go over well.