Monday, June 1, 2009

Aphaenogaster Journal

For those of you keeping track with my podcast Ant Chat you'll know that I keep a young colony of Aphaenogaster. The exact species is unknown to me and I haven't really put any time into trying to either. Aphaenogaster has a couple of Complexes in it.

I thought I'd take the time to write about them for a bit. Something interesting about this ant is queens don't lay eggs over the winter, however there is still brood in the nest. This over wintering batch of eggs was laid in late summer or fall and takes a full three seasons to develope. Other batches of brood, which I call "normal" brood, is laid over the spring, summer, and fall and doesn't take longer than 3 months to develope. However, it's only the batch of brood that over winters and takes roughly 9 months to develope that can turn into new queens. Even then, the brood can still develope into workers and males. In the photo above you can sort of make out a new queen in the final half of the pupa stage right in the middle of the image.

Though the colony is small they will soon expand to other parts of the nest. It's good to give a colony options I think. Mostly all of the ants stay inside the chamber in the upper left. You can make out some walls and bridges they've built in the area below this room. I would say the colony only has 100 ants in it but new pupa are already developing and the colony will grow quickly.