Hello everyone. I'm fairly new to ant keeping, this season will mark the beginning of my second year. I have had a colony of Solenopsis Invicta almost the whole time. Living in South Florida, and understanding that they originate from South America I have come to understand that this species is very intolerant of cold. I bought a small heating mat and a Sensor Push online, unfortunately, I had a problem with the heating mat (darn euro plug) and ended up leaving them in the cold a few more nights then I would think that they could tolerate. this includes last night where it got as low as 49 degrees fahrenheit. Has anyone else known of this species being able to tolerate cold of this kind?
solenopsis invicta resilience to cold
Offline - Posted January 10 2019 - 6:04 PM
Offline - Posted January 10 2019 - 6:34 PM
I have seen a mature wild colony of S. invicta that survived a light frost in the winter. The workers seemed a bit slow but other than that they were acting normal. I would still recommend a heating mat, but I don't think you have any reason to worry.
Edited by Guy_Fieri, January 10 2019 - 6:35 PM.
Offline - Posted January 10 2019 - 7:34 PM
yea I'm going to get a new heating mat tomorrow, but tonight is going to be the coldest night for them yet. I'm wondering if there have been any studies on how cold they can actually get.
Online - Posted January 11 2019 - 9:10 PM
With a heat mat they should be okay but they won't grow. If you can invest in a styrofoam cooler to retain heat that would work best.
Offline - Posted January 12 2019 - 2:20 PM
I've caught some Solenopsis invicta queens up here in DC. The temperature can get down in the 20s in the winter and yet every year I see at least 5-6 queens. I think it is false to claim that Solenopsis invicta are intolerant to cold, they do just fine up here and while they don't spread as fast, they just seem to be as populated as any other species I find up here. Not everywhere, but if you look for them you'll find some after a couple of tries. So, I wouldn't be too worried about your Solenopsis. They should be fine.
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Solenopsis invicta INVASIVE : 1 queen and a decent egg pile, DO NOT KEEP THIS SPECIES, I am in a study about the adaptability of RIFA to cold climates such as DC.
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Pheidole megacephala INVASIVE : 8 queens and 50ish workers with decent amount of brood, another study being conducted.
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Offline - Posted January 12 2019 - 5:34 PM
Solenopsis invicta is tolerant to cold to some degree. This doesn't mean you will see them popping up in Canada anytime soon though. As of right now, they do best in areas where the lowest yearly temperature in an area does not drop below -12.3 degrees celsius. Their maximum range is somewhere between that annual lowest temperature and -17.8 degrees celsius. Places like Alabama, Georgia, etc. where Solenopsis invicta are quite common, can get quite chilly in the winter, often dropping below freezing. Solenopsis invicta does what other species of ant do; they go down into their nest and wait it out. 49 degrees Fahrenheit wouldn't harm a wild colony whatsoever. With that being said, Solenopsis invicta will usually only fly if the temperature is at 74 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This is due to the fact that their brood cannot develop if kept below ~70 degrees Fahrenheit. In summary, Your colony will absolutely not grow if kept at 48 degrees Fahrenheit, however, they could very well survive for a period of time.
Edited by Mdrogun, January 12 2019 - 5:37 PM.
Ready for Nuptial flights!
Offline - Posted January 12 2019 - 9:54 PM
Solenopsis invicta's native distribution in South America includes some colder, temperate climates towards the southern end of the continent.
They're quite cold-tolerant as they can live in areas that get snowfall annually. On very cold days they would usually dig further into the ground but even living in northwest Florida where we get 50-degree days frequently, they're usually still in the upper parts of their mounds although moving very slowly.
I'm not sure if you're keeping your ants outdoors or if the inside of your home is 49 degrees (I hope not!), but I think your S. invicta should be fine.
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Offline - Posted January 13 2019 - 12:12 AM
They won't die until temperatures reach about freezing, but brood development becomes extremely slow at around 75 F, allowing worker mortality to rise above the replacement rate. At lower temperatures, foraging activity also stops. That's why they aren't able to thrive and reproduce in cooler climates, but can easily survive seasonally low temperatures by remaining in their nest, several feet below ground, where temperatures are more stable.
Edited by drtrmiller, January 13 2019 - 12:24 AM.
Offline - Posted January 15 2019 - 8:17 PM
Thanks for all the reassurance. I keep them in an "outdoor room", kind of like a shed. as I understand it, this is the best place for them because we like our air conditioning and the house stays in the 70's were outside in South Florida its almost always 80's or 90's. at this point, I got a heating cable, but I'm reconsidering using it without something to automatically turn it off if it gets too hot.
With all of that in mind, I have them in an AusAnts nest size 2 (they barely fit). Does anyone have any tips for using the heating wire?
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