Monday, January 3, 2011

Ants Hibernating

Here is my "colony" of Formica pallidefulva which are for the most part hibernating. The only exception is the queen ant seen in the bottom, however there is something a little sinister happening here. 

This is the unidentified Formica slave making queen I caught over the summer. She's a different species than the workers but they're taking care of her all the same. Come spring time I hope to see her lay eggs and produce more workers of her species. The largest workers are typically the best caste to look at when it comes to identifying ants. Queens are often a close second as all the traits are there in full representation but one has to look around those that make her a queen. The enlarged mesosoma (thorax/ actually alitrunk is correct) that house her wing muscles and are scared from having wings are not found on the largest worker counterparts.

What's neat is how the colony has gone dormant despite little effort on my part to induce hibernation. I haven't really fed the colony for a month, Formica don't keep brood over the winter so there's little to feed anyhow. Clearly from the photos they have enough food to get through the winter. I've given them a new test tube setup but they haven't moved into it yet though. Their current one is a little disgusting. I'll also be making them a more permanent setup when they wake up and get going this spring.

The room they're in actually gets cold enough that I usually need a blanket to sit comfortably up here in the winter time, most nights.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Found some typos in the first version, so back with a corrected one --
    Any, wanted to say that mesosoma is the preferred term because it is consistent with usage in the rest of entomology. Alitrunk is a synonym, orignally written alitruncus and used for honeybees, but hardly used any more, except by a few myrmecologists, and even so by hardly any of the recently published ones.
    Personally, I never liked alitrunk on because of its hybrid Latin-English look, and more importantly because it refers to wings (ali-), and so is not applicable to most ants.