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How to Keep Thief Ants?

thief ants solenopsis solenopsis molesta solenopsis texana

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8 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Mettcollsuss - Posted November 18 2017 - 12:56 PM

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When thief ants fly next spring, I'm thinking of trying to keep them as a fun challenge. I've seen many people keep them before, but I have a question. Since in the wild their main food source is the brood of neighboring colonies, what do I give them? I imagine it would be pretty hard to get a constant supply of brood to feed them. Thanks!



#2 Offline Connectimyrmex - Posted November 18 2017 - 2:41 PM

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1. (Solenopsis) Thief ants fly in the fall.

2. They don't really just eat brood. Solenopsis thief ants will eat almost anything a normal ant would eat.


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#3 Offline Mettcollsuss - Posted November 18 2017 - 3:10 PM

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Thanks. In an AntsCanada video on nuptial flight schedules it said that Solenopsis spp. flies from April to July in North America, so that's where I got my info from.



#4 Offline Serafine - Posted November 18 2017 - 3:36 PM

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Solenopsis invicta flies all around the year (assuming it is warm enough) but they're not thief ants.


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#5 Offline Mettcollsuss - Posted November 18 2017 - 6:24 PM

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Well, I do know that Thief Ants live around here. I found a 2 queen S. molesta colony in my school garden. I'll just keep my eye out for flights.


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#6 Offline Connectimyrmex - Posted November 18 2017 - 6:36 PM

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Solenopsis invicta flies all around the year (assuming it is warm enough) but they're not thief ants.

Solenopsis molesta & the other cryptic Solenopsis. Seriously, don't you have your own colony of cryptic Solenopsis?

 

Also, I wouldn't trust all of AC's information. Some nuptial flight timings can be extremely varied.


Edited by Connectimyrmex, November 18 2017 - 6:37 PM.

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Hawaiiant (Ben)

Keeper of
Miniature Labradoodle
Baby Wolf Spider
Mud Dauber wasp larvae
Ochetellus Glaber
Solenopsis Geminata
Brachymyrmex Obscurior
Cardiocondyla Emeryi
Tetramorium Bicarinatum
Plagiolepis Alluaudi
Anoplolepis Gracilipes
Technomyrmex Difficilis
Pheidole Megacephala
Aholehole fish
Cowrie snail
Sea Fan Worm
100+ sea squirts
Tree seedlings
Ghost Crab
Day Gecko
Small Fat Centipede
Endemic Lacewing larva
Vernal Pool shrimps

#7 Offline MrILoveTheAnts - Posted November 18 2017 - 7:43 PM

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Solenopsis molesta is very easy to keep in captivity. Despite their name being thief ants they're in no way parasitic or require a host colony to steal from. They're excellent little scavengers that just happen to specialize on soft bodied arthropods. Meaning those little white or clear bodied critters you see munching on leaf litter and dead wood. They also go after root aphids and unattended ant brood.

 

Solenopsis%20molesta%20alates%203.jpg

Queens fly over the summer in North America. The second week of June would be ~around the earliest that they fly. July might be more common though. They do this in the afternoon hours around 4:00pm until sundown. Queens are extremely fragile so be very careful when handling them. I lick my finger and give them a quick dab without crushing them and then get them in a tube. It's really easy to crush them in your fingers or give them internal injuries with other methods. A friend tried sucking them up with a pooter/aspirator and it ripped off all of their gasters.

 

Solenopsis%20molesta%20nemotoide.jpg

Avoid the ones with black gasters. There's a type of parasitic fungus common with this species and queens that have been infected with this are infertile no matter how much they try and mate.

 

Colonies are Polygynous both before and after founding but weak queens might be weeded out. If you chance upon a flight it's entirely possible to find 50 queens just walking around on the pavement and street. Don't start them in groups bigger than 4. While gatherings of 50+ queens do happen in nature I've never had success starting that many in one tube (and I don't know why). It's best to put them in smaller groups and then after the first workers are born let them combine in a shared foraging area as they like.

 

Mt%20Cuba%20Solenopsis%20molesta%202.jpg

Workers are crazy tiny. Feed them group up Pecan Sandies (or Chips Ahoy makes a pecan cooky box), and dead insects. They don't have a major caste to open up large carcasses so cut them up first.  

 

Don't Hibernate them! While they can stand some low temperatures they don't benefit from it in captivity. In fact the warmer they are the better it seems. Queens will keep on laying in winter even without hibernation just as long as they have the dead insect food to produce them.


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#8 Offline T.C. - Posted November 18 2017 - 9:46 PM

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They where so small I sold mine. Didn't keep any.
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#9 Offline Mettcollsuss - Posted November 19 2017 - 4:23 AM

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Solenopsis molesta is very easy to keep in captivity. Despite their name being thief ants they're in no way parasitic or require a host colony to steal from. They're excellent little scavengers that just happen to specialize on soft bodied arthropods. Meaning those little white or clear bodied critters you see munching on leaf litter and dead wood. They also go after root aphids and unattended ant brood.

 

Solenopsis%20molesta%20alates%203.jpg

Queens fly over the summer in North America. The second week of June would be ~around the earliest that they fly. July might be more common though. They do this in the afternoon hours around 4:00pm until sundown. Queens are extremely fragile so be very careful when handling them. I lick my finger and give them a quick dab without crushing them and then get them in a tube. It's really easy to crush them in your fingers or give them internal injuries with other methods. A friend tried sucking them up with a pooter/aspirator and it ripped off all of their gasters.

 

Solenopsis%20molesta%20nemotoide.jpg

Avoid the ones with black gasters. There's a type of parasitic fungus common with this species and queens that have been infected with this are infertile no matter how much they try and mate.

 

Colonies are Polygynous both before and after founding but weak queens might be weeded out. If you chance upon a flight it's entirely possible to find 50 queens just walking around on the pavement and street. Don't start them in groups bigger than 4. While gatherings of 50+ queens do happen in nature I've never had success starting that many in one tube (and I don't know why). It's best to put them in smaller groups and then after the first workers are born let them combine in a shared foraging area as they like.

 

Mt%20Cuba%20Solenopsis%20molesta%202.jpg

Workers are crazy tiny. Feed them group up Pecan Sandies (or Chips Ahoy makes a pecan cooky box), and dead insects. They don't have a major caste to open up large carcasses so cut them up first.  

 

Don't Hibernate them! While they can stand some low temperatures they don't benefit from it in captivity. In fact the warmer they are the better it seems. Queens will keep on laying in winter even without hibernation just as long as they have the dead insect food to produce them.

Thanks! Great photos, by the way.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: thief ants, solenopsis, solenopsis molesta, solenopsis texana

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