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Care Sheet - Acromyrmex versicolor


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#1 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 21 2022 - 6:08 AM

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Scientific Name:  Acromyrmex versicolor

Common Name:  Desert Leaf Cutter Ants

Distribution:  Found throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Upper Parts of Mexico

Queen size:  8 mm

Worker size:  2.5-7 mm

Natural Habitat:  These are a desert ant found commonly in washes around large bushes and trees.

Circadian Activity:  Can be active at any time of the day when weather conditions are suitable.

Mating Flight:  Late July to early October. They typically fly the day after a rainstorm, shortly after the sun rises.

Queen Founding Method:  Semi-claustral

Monogyne or Polygyne:  In some areas polygyne. Best success is usually with single or two-three queen colonies

Average time from egg to worker:  4-6 weeks.

Recommended Temperature:  It is best to keep these ants in relatively cooler temps. I’ve found the sweet spot is around 75F or 23-24C. The cardinal rule with keeping any fungus growing ant is to NOT heat them. Too much heat WILL KILL THE FUNGUS.

Recommended Humidity:  Keep this species quite humid. This species is known for growing its fungus on the ceiling of their chambers due to the ground of the chambers being quite wet. A rule of thumb is that if the nest looks dry hydrate immediately.

Preferred Foods:  Acromyrmex exclusively feed on the fungus they grow, but to fertilize the fungus, they will use a variety of organic matter. They seem to really like, and most people have had success giving them rose petals, clover leaves, steel cut oats, mesquite leaves, and fish pellets. No insects are needed as they will be left untouched by the colony.

Hibernation Details:  This species does not need hibernation, but I have found that fungus growth is halted in the winter, and the fungus may even decrease. Also brood production will be halted or slowed in the winter.

Escape Barrier Methods:  These ants are adept climbers but I have found that Fluon can stop them but be wary of silicone bridges.

Difficulty rating:  This species is for intermediate keepers and above. While there is a stigma around leaf-cutters, they can be quite easy. If necessary temperature and humidity parameters are not met, colonies can quickly fail.

Bite and/or Sting rating:  These do not sting, bite can be painful as these are ants specialized in cutting.

Special Care or Interesting Notes:  I have found that giving these ants too much is not a thing. They will take what they want and leave the rest to come back for it later. Although my colony does go through a large handful of leaves in about a week or less.

Additional Links:
My colony: https://www.formicul...journal-mar-31/
AntWiki Page: https://www.antwiki....rmex_versicolor


Information submitted by ZTYguy


Edited by dspdrew, April 24 2022 - 10:47 AM.

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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#2 Offline CheetoLord02 - Posted April 21 2022 - 11:20 AM

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Some of this information is incorrect.

Circadian ActivityAcromyrmex are exceptionally active at dawn and dusk, but they are also quite nocturnal.

This is somewhat correct, but it varies heavily with the time of year. During the summer when days are scorching, they will be almost strictly nocturnal. However, during the winter, when the nighttime temperatures may drop into the 40s or 30s, they forage almost entirely during the day. As the weather changes, they will choose to forage during the most ideal temperatures, avoiding overly hot days and overly cool nights.


Mating Flight: Nuptial flights happen through Late July through August. They typically fly the day after a rainstorm and fly at around dusk and well into the night.

A. versicolor fly in the morning. Alates typically take off shortly after the sun rises, and the flight will have ended by 8am. Queens may be found digging after this point, however queens that have already begun to dig may no longer be holding their fungal pellet, so it is recommended to catch queens that are freshly mated and have not started to dig yet.


Worker size: Minor workers 2-4mm, Majors 6mm

Workers can range from 2-7mm, if not up to 8mm. They do not have defined minors and majors, and will have workers of any size from 2mm to 7-8mm in a colony.


Average time from egg to worker: Egg to Larvae = 14-20 days; Larvae to pupae = 20 days, Pupae to worker = 10 days. Slow growers while founding but rapidly pick up the pace once colony is established (ie. around 50 or so workers).

If kept optimally, egg to worker time for this species will only be 4-5 weeks. I detailed this development more in my journal, and it seems as though the development times were:
egg to larva - 14 days. larva to pupa - 8 days. Pupa to worker - 10 days. This was for a founding group of 4 queens for their first nanitic.


Hibernation Details: This species does not need hibernation, but I have found that fungus growth is haulted in the winter, and the fungus may even decrease. Also brood production will be halted or slowed in the winter.

This species may slow their development in the winter, and it is noted that A. versicolor will gladly go inactive for months, especially during the driest times of year when foliage becomes scarce. That said, brood production will almost never be outright halted. Fungus may shrink in size a bit, but the colony will likely still remain active enough to maintain the garden's size and continue to lay eggs, if not in smaller batches.

Monogyne or Polygyne: In some areas polygyne, best success is usually with single or two-three queen colonies

Gyne tolerance is based strictly on locality in this species, and it seems that the only confirmed polygynous population of this species is located south of Tucson, AZ, with the polygynous Acromyrmex being found throughout the southern part of the city as well. The monogynous variant exhibits secondary monogyny, where queens will cooperate in founding, but later all but one of the queens will be culled. Founding in groups of 4 to 8 typically has the greatest chance of starting a healthy colony, however in the secondarily monogynous populations, the queens will need to be split up shortly after founding. The polygynous variant also seems to only tolerate a certain number of queens before fighting will occur, and that threshold is likely somewhere around 10 queens. 

I, of course, would recommend checking out my Fungus Grower Guide for other regards about the care of this species.


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#3 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 21 2022 - 12:01 PM

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I’ll edit the info for accuracy.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#4 Offline dspdrew - Posted April 21 2022 - 8:58 PM

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I'm fixing this. I agree some of the information is incorrect.
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#5 Offline ZTYguy - Posted April 21 2022 - 10:12 PM

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I would like to formerly apologize to Drew, AntDrew, and the rest of the forum. My intent for getting this care sheet up was to show what I (I emphasize I) have found success in. I never once wanted to spread misinformation. I will take this as a learning experience and I am also very glad on the other hand that it is being edited by someone who has been in this hobby for way longer then me. My end goal was to have a care guide up so if someone does look specifically for this species they will find it. Yes I highly recommend Cheeto’s Leaf Cutter Ant Guide but I wanted this to be a specific guide for Acromyrmex versicolor. Again I wholeheartedly apologize and hope we can move past this. 


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Ant Keeping Since June 2018
Currently Keeping:
A. versicolor, C. vicinus, C. us-ca02, C. clarithorax, C. yogi, C. sansabeanus, C. semitestaceus, C. laevigatus , M. mimicus, M. mexicanus , P. montanus, V. andrei, V. pergandei, N. cockerelli, L. humile

GO CHECK OUT ANTSEMPORIUM HERE: https://antsemporium.com/

#6 Offline CheetoLord02 - Posted April 21 2022 - 10:13 PM

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It's not that big of a deal, lol. Just wanted to correct what I saw was incorrect.


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#7 Offline ZTYguy - Posted April 21 2022 - 10:18 PM

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Oh also Cheeto, I have witnessed a smaller (what I think was a “whatever” eviction flight during the late hours of the night (around 9-10), so I’m wondering if there might be something to study there. I do plan on staking out a spot in Acromyrmex territory for about 3 whole days to see what I can gather. I will write down what I find and put it in my journal and thank you for understanding.


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Ant Keeping Since June 2018
Currently Keeping:
A. versicolor, C. vicinus, C. us-ca02, C. clarithorax, C. yogi, C. sansabeanus, C. semitestaceus, C. laevigatus , M. mimicus, M. mexicanus , P. montanus, V. andrei, V. pergandei, N. cockerelli, L. humile

GO CHECK OUT ANTSEMPORIUM HERE: https://antsemporium.com/

#8 Offline T.C. - Posted April 21 2022 - 10:44 PM

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I would like to formerly apologize to Drew, AntDrew, and the rest of the forum. My intent for getting this care sheet up was to show what I (I emphasize I) have found success in. I never once wanted to spread misinformation. I will take this as a learning experience and I am also very glad on the other hand that it is being edited by someone who has been in this hobby for way longer then me. My end goal was to have a care guide up so if someone does look specifically for this species they will find it. Yes I highly recommend Cheeto’s Leaf Cutter Ant Guide but I wanted this to be a specific guide for Acromyrmex versicolor. Again I wholeheartedly apologize and hope we can move past this. 

No worries man. It's nice to see people care enough to make them.


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#9 Offline dspdrew - Posted April 21 2022 - 11:32 PM

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I would like to formerly apologize to Drew, AntDrew, and the rest of the forum. My intent for getting this care sheet up was to show what I (I emphasize I) have found success in. I never once wanted to spread misinformation. I will take this as a learning experience and I am also very glad on the other hand that it is being edited by someone who has been in this hobby for way longer then me. My end goal was to have a care guide up so if someone does look specifically for this species they will find it. Yes I highly recommend Cheeto’s Leaf Cutter Ant Guide but I wanted this to be a specific guide for Acromyrmex versicolor. Again I wholeheartedly apologize and hope we can move past this. 

 

It's all good. I appreciate anyone trying to help.


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#10 Offline dspdrew - Posted April 24 2022 - 10:49 AM

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I've had tons of colonies of these and have never seen a 2mm worker. 2.5 maybe. I'm changing that to 2.5 minimum.



#11 Offline NicholasP - Posted April 26 2022 - 8:40 PM

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Some of this information is incorrect.

Circadian ActivityAcromyrmex are exceptionally active at dawn and dusk, but they are also quite nocturnal.

This is somewhat correct, but it varies heavily with the time of year. During the summer when days are scorching, they will be almost strictly nocturnal. However, during the winter, when the nighttime temperatures may drop into the 40s or 30s, they forage almost entirely during the day. As the weather changes, they will choose to forage during the most ideal temperatures, avoiding overly hot days and overly cool nights.


Mating Flight: Nuptial flights happen through Late July through August. They typically fly the day after a rainstorm and fly at around dusk and well into the night.

A. versicolor fly in the morning. Alates typically take off shortly after the sun rises, and the flight will have ended by 8am. Queens may be found digging after this point, however queens that have already begun to dig may no longer be holding their fungal pellet, so it is recommended to catch queens that are freshly mated and have not started to dig yet.


Worker size: Minor workers 2-4mm, Majors 6mm

Workers can range from 2-7mm, if not up to 8mm. They do not have defined minors and majors, and will have workers of any size from 2mm to 7-8mm in a colony.


Average time from egg to worker: Egg to Larvae = 14-20 days; Larvae to pupae = 20 days, Pupae to worker = 10 days. Slow growers while founding but rapidly pick up the pace once colony is established (ie. around 50 or so workers).

If kept optimally, egg to worker time for this species will only be 4-5 weeks. I detailed this development more in my journal, and it seems as though the development times were:
egg to larva - 14 days. larva to pupa - 8 days. Pupa to worker - 10 days. This was for a founding group of 4 queens for their first nanitic.


Hibernation Details: This species does not need hibernation, but I have found that fungus growth is haulted in the winter, and the fungus may even decrease. Also brood production will be halted or slowed in the winter.

This species may slow their development in the winter, and it is noted that A. versicolor will gladly go inactive for months, especially during the driest times of year when foliage becomes scarce. That said, brood production will almost never be outright halted. Fungus may shrink in size a bit, but the colony will likely still remain active enough to maintain the garden's size and continue to lay eggs, if not in smaller batches.

Monogyne or Polygyne: In some areas polygyne, best success is usually with single or two-three queen colonies

Gyne tolerance is based strictly on locality in this species, and it seems that the only confirmed polygynous population of this species is located south of Tucson, AZ, with the polygynous Acromyrmex being found throughout the southern part of the city as well. The monogynous variant exhibits secondary monogyny, where queens will cooperate in founding, but later all but one of the queens will be culled. Founding in groups of 4 to 8 typically has the greatest chance of starting a healthy colony, however in the secondarily monogynous populations, the queens will need to be split up shortly after founding. The polygynous variant also seems to only tolerate a certain number of queens before fighting will occur, and that threshold is likely somewhere around 10 queens. 

I, of course, would recommend checking out my Fungus Grower Guide for other regards about the care of this species.

I agree with what Cheeto said. Having lived in Tucson where I raised colonies of leafcutters, I can say that they are polygynous in the areas of Southeast to Southern Tucson. Also, ZTY it's ok with what happened. Everyone makes mistakes and plus the fact that you put all this time and effort for this care sheet is incredible. I would've needed a lot of motivation if I were to make a care sheet so props to you! It is also very hard to make a care sheet that works for all states that an ant species is native to so it's very understandable that there were some things that wouldn't match up to other places.


Edited by NicholasP, April 26 2022 - 8:41 PM.

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