An Introduction to honey pot ants
There are around 34 different species of honey pot ants. They all share the ability to store large amounts of nutritious liquid, especially in the larger workers known as ‘repletes‘.
During the rainy seasons the honey pot ant repletes are fed so much that they swell up and become living underground refrigerators, some can become so large that it’s impossible for them to leave their nest. The food is stored for the whole colony and is used during the dry seasons when food is not so plentiful.
These ants hold so many nutrients and energy that they have become a favoured food for many other animals including humans.
Some Myrmecocystus species have been known to attack other colonies of the same species, kill their queen and take the workers as their slaves!
A few honey pot ant species are known to be able to change colours to greens, oranges, reds, blues and yellows. This might be to do with the type of liquid they are holding.
These fascinating ants can be seen in zoos around the world.
Myrmecocystus sp, Melophorus sp, Leptomyrmex sp, Camponotus inflatus, Plagiolepsis trimineni.
Honey pot ants can be found in Western America, Mexico, Australia, South Africa and New Guinea.
Honey pot ants are normally found in hot dry areas such as the edges of deserts.
Honey pot ants mostly gorge on desert flowers for the sugary nectar during the rainy seasons. They will also eat small insects.
Honey pot queen ants are mostly monogyn (one queen per colony). One Myrmecocystus sp queen has been reported to have lived for 11 years. She can lay up to 1,500 eggs per day.
The workers range in size and colour, especially the repletes when they have been filled with nutritious liquid, they resemble walking grapes.
Honey pot ants have no known risks in their natural habitats.
Risk declarations must be completed if honey pot ants are housed outside of their country of origin.
Honey pot ants require constant high desert like temperatures. They also require a deep, predefined habitat so that the repletes have space to hang from the ceilings.