Cataglyphis desertorum

Cataglyphis cf. desertorum

Info from World of Ants.

Name: Cataglyphis cf. desertorum
Propagation: North Africa / Orient
Queen: 15-17mm
Workers: 5-16mm
Food: Insects and honey water
Air moisture: 30-50%
Temperature: 20-35°C
Hibernation: No
Nest-building: Soil nests, often under stones and in sand
Formicariums: Tank, farm tank
Formicarium size: min. 30x20cm (adjust to colony size)
Particularities: This large, striking red-black species from the bicolour group is widespread all over North Africa. A very robust and assertive species. When their nest is disturbed, these ants become furiously aggressive. Bites from larger ants can draw blood, so that caution is recommended when handling them. These large, long-limbed and graceful ants make grateful fosterlings, and as is the case with all bicolour species, colonies can live for at least ten years, provided they receive plenty of food and are kept in the right conditions. Colony sizes range from one-thousand to three-hundred thousand animals. During their first year of foundation, in the right conditions, colonies can reach sizes that range from 100 to 300 individuals. This species tends to swell in plains with sparse ground vegetation and clayey soil. As is the case with all Cataglyphis species from the bicolour group, these ants curl their abdomen upwards when ground temperatures are high or under bright light.
I bought a colony of these which arrived about the 18th Oct 2011. I had previously constructed a y-tong nest prior to the ant arriving and siliconed it in place inside the 40x25x25cm arena. The substarte in fine white reptile sand and i poured some into the nest. The y-tong was still slightly damp after washing and the sand stuck to the condensation on the glass obstructing the view, but it is slowly dissapearing. I am using a perspex vented lid with a daylight bulb and the arena is heated by a heatmat on the bottom with a stat for safety. The temp on the surface is about 40c and 25c at the top.
About 50 ish ants arrived but no eggs larvae or pupae which was a bit worrying and were held in a small plastic tub with toilet paper inside. Opening the lid the ants were soon exploring their new home. When i went back to see later i saw a large worker carrying the queen. I thought she was dead and went to touch it and she riggled slightly and the worker put her down only for another worker to pick her up just like a female cat with a kitten and took her into the nest.
Worker carrying queen.
Queen waiting to be picked up by another worker
I have offered them sugar and honey water but ive only seen one or two ants feeding from both so no real preferance yet. Also fed mealworms and crickets which i have directly dropped into the nest. The ant act extremely violently and overcome the prey quickly. There are two mealworm beetles living in the arena but these have been untouched.
When the cover is removed from the nest the ants panic and run everywhere. I have noticed some carrying small white lumps as they are running and assumed it was sand but i managed to catch a snap on my camera and i was very pleased to see that they were carrying larvae.
Messor barbarus

Getting ready for their winter break


Today i have decided to turn off the heat in preparation for their hibernation. Lowering the final temps might be difficult for me as i think the lowest i will get, will be around 15 – 16c in the room they will be kept. At present the temp is about 20c and this should gradually fall over the next few weeks. I have provided them with a small water bowl near th entrance with cotton wool in to stop them from drowning and i’ve placed it next to the test tubes as both reserves are empty. Hopefully this will be adequate with frequent monitoring. I have never kept anything that has needed hibernating before so this is a new experience for me, so fingers crossed it all goes well…

Climate for Faro, Southern Portugal, courtesy of wikipedia, click to enlarge.





The temps have suddenly dropped to about 17c and strangely at night the ants are even more active then they ever have been. Perhaps they have been suddenly suprised by the sudden drop in temps and need to take action in rediness for the winter break? I feel sorry for them as near by are my heated exotic ants enjoying the warmth.


Camponotus sp

More humid in the tube perhaps ?

Continuing to grow very slowly the ants have now moved the brood to the outlet tube between the y-tong and arena.

Showing nest chamber and outlet tube.


Messor barbarus

Such a hoard of seeds

The two colonies have slowed down somewhat even though i havent reduced the temps ready for hibernationand and are no longer collecting seeds ,but continue to take dead cockroaches. Both my colonys seem to have done really well and i’m going to take their heat away at the end of this month i think. My first colony nearly fills one test tube but i will wait until next year until i give them anything bigger. The water in both test tubes has gone so i have been just adding a few drops to the bits of cottonwool that they have pulled out from the water reserves.

As you can see the tube is pretty full. I had previously given the arena a light spray of water which caused the sand to stick together and the ants have dug underneath the test tube. Of course i have taken off the piece of toilet roll holder so you can see.


I tapped the side and they rushed out, they also brought out two different sized pupae.


Just a short piece to show development in 7 months..