Ant queens: May 2011 Archives


Hi! I really want to know if there is any chance to breed ants? Can I make the ants stronger over generations like cows, if I give them parents with good genes?
Example: Can I make Messor Barbarus queens head extra red or extra big?

Dear Johan,

This is a question that has bothered ant biologists for a long time. Unfortunately, it is actually quite difficult to breed ants. Ant males and queens will only mate after nuptial flights which occur under very specific environmental conditions that are difficult to identify and have been nearly impossible to duplicate in the lab. You can read about how to identify male and female ants in this blog post. Some attempts have been made to artificially inseminate ants but these have all had little success. Bees are relatively easy to artificially inseminate but these techniques have not carried over to ants. While it is theoretically possible to breed ants for particular traits such as color and size, the methods for doing so have not been developed.

Ben Rubin & the AntAsk Team

Need some help IDing this queen. Looks too large for the typical Texas fireant but is all red. Location is gulfcoast area. Seen black ants of similar size and wondering if maybe queens of the same type are just red. Thanks for the help on IDing. Ill try and get better pictures in if needed.

Camponotus castaneus?.jpg

Dear MP,

Thank you for including a photo. This certainly helps with the identification. We asked another ant expert, Lloyd Davis, for some help with this since he is familiar with the ants of Texas. He believes this is Camponotus castaneus. You can see a close up photo here.

The black queens of similar size you also see are likely another species of Camponotus and not a color form of this species. You can learn more about the ants of Texas here.

Happy ant finding!
Lloyd Davis (guest expert), Corrie Moreau & the AntAsk Team