What do I do with an ant Queen?
November 17, 2007 11:49 AM   Subscribe

So last night, I found what I think I've determined is an ANT QUEEN crawling across the carpet in front of my tv. I caught it. What in blazes do I do now? Make a little crown?

It's weird and looks closest to this.

Though with a more traditional ant head, antennae and no pincer things at the rear end of the rear section (which is six segmented). The proportions are dead on tho'. It's about 1" long. No exaggeration.

Is this a rare thing? Should I contact my local entomologist? The East Bay Vivarium? Does anyone want one?

What does it eat?
posted by asavage to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure queen ants, when mobile, look just like regular ones with wings, at least early in their lives. You won't find one that's converted to egglaying wandering around your living room. You'll only find new queens that haven't made a nest yet.

You can keep it, feed it a bit of hamburger and sugar, and see what happens, but I rather doubt you'll end up with an ant nest.

Queen ants aren't at all rare, particularly in the South. :)
posted by Malor at 11:53 AM on November 17, 2007

Response by poster: That's what I've seen from the pix online, 'cept that this sucker is huge, and trying 5 or 6 bug identification sites hasn't turned up anything like it.
posted by asavage at 11:58 AM on November 17, 2007

Go take a picture of it! We need to see the exact ant to id it. It might be one of those queen ants that turn you to stone if you look at it too long.

Then again it might not. Upload a photo!
posted by iconomy at 12:05 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, I'm going to get the macro going now...
posted by asavage at 12:09 PM on November 17, 2007

Without a picture of it, it is a bit hard for a non-expert to identify. Who knows, we might have some ant experts on metafilter.

If someone here is unable to help identify it and get you answers, you might want to email the people at AntWeb.
posted by necessitas at 12:09 PM on November 17, 2007

I had a problem with carpenter ants, and my dear entomologist friend helped me out with it quite a bit... especially when they began to swarm in my apartment... ack!

The life cycle of a queen ant:
Step 1: Swarm
This is a princess ant, she looks like a huge ant, the size of a hornet and has wings. Very moody. Soon after you see her, you'll see more princess ants and some drones, all have wings, all are huge. This is when you go on vacation...

Step 2: Mating
They will all gather next to your bed and mate. The drones die in a little pile on your floor.

Step 3: Nesting
She'll find herself a nice place to start a new colony, and chew off her own wings. Then the princess digs a small nest and lays her eggs. During this time they get huge. According to my buggy friend, they turn white, squishy, and get huge booties from all the sugar they've been gorging themselves on. You will most likely never see them like this since the queen never leaves the nest unless it's on fire or her colony is dying. I get the feeling that if you did find a queen ant, she is most likely getting ready to nest. Kill her. Kill her sisters. With fire. (or Terro)

If you live near a university, I'm sure an entomology student would love to poke it.

In the meantime, I'll ask my friend to see if she can identify the demon spawn.
posted by idiotfactory at 12:14 PM on November 17, 2007 [6 favorites]

Yes, first a crown. Then indulge in all your voyeuristic fantasies about ant life by placing her in one of these gel ant farms.
posted by cocoagirl at 12:18 PM on November 17, 2007

Does it look like this?
posted by idiotfactory at 12:19 PM on November 17, 2007

Response by poster: No wings btw.
posted by asavage at 12:34 PM on November 17, 2007

Most likely what you have is a just-fertilized queen looking around for a place to nest. When ants breed, the queens and the males both have wings and fly around looking for some hot action. After the deed is done, the males die and the queen lands someplace and immediately sheds her wings. She then finds a nice little spot to create a colony, and her body slowly digests the muscles in her thorax that were previously used to work her wings.

So: If you look at the thorax, does it look built-up and muscular on the dorsal side? If so, then it's definitely a recently fertilized queen. The abdomen is already fairly large-- and a fully-functioning, egg-laying ant queen's abdomen never gets to the crazy disproportionate size that a termite queen's does (think Aliens).

The picture you've linked to is of an African army ant queen, of a species that doesn't nest but temporarily and spends its colony life mobile about the forest floor-- not an ideal situation for a queen with an preposterously large abdomen.

But anyway, if you put your specimen in an ant farm ASAP, you might just get a whole colony. Depending on where you live you could probably find out a high probability for species given that this isn't generally traditional mating time for most North American ants.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:49 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Stir fry!
posted by kirkaracha at 2:35 PM on November 17, 2007

I'd definitely throw this into an ant farm. The gel medium type cocoagirl suggested are awesome, though you might need the expansion pack. Bit of sugar water wouldn't hurt to hold her over.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:07 PM on November 17, 2007

shakespeherian, the pic was linked by idiotfactory, not asavage, the original poster.
posted by exlotuseater at 4:11 PM on November 17, 2007

It's so elegant. So intelligent
posted by exlotuseater at 4:12 PM on November 17, 2007

Honestly, if it is really that big, I wouldn't step on it inside the house. I'd try to get a piece of paper under it, carry it outside, and step on it there.
posted by found missing at 5:32 PM on November 17, 2007

I would love to see a photo. I live in SF and we've had some monster mutant ants wandering around our bath room the last few months and none of the bug sites have lead me to any identification. Since we're seeing 2 or 3 at a time - I don't think they're queens - but they aren't like anything I've ever seen in the house before.
posted by Wolfie at 9:05 PM on November 17, 2007

(I meant this photo in the OP.)
posted by shakespeherian at 11:09 PM on November 17, 2007

You are the insect queen, young and sweet, bulging abdomeen / Insect queen, shedding wings on the window screen / You can mate, dig a nest, building the hive of your life / See that ant, watch that scene, digging insect queen!
posted by hattifattener at 11:55 PM on November 17, 2007 [8 favorites]

sorry shakepesherian, I didn't even see that one.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:02 AM on November 18, 2007

BTW... here are my guesses:

Cerapachys davisi - This is where I put my money.

If not, maybe:

Cerapachys augustae

One of these two Amblyopones

Hypoponera opacior

Proceratium - Doubt it.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 3:48 AM on November 18, 2007

You might try checking What's That Bug? (from this post a while back). I don't think anyone's mentioned it yet.
posted by dilettante at 8:28 AM on November 18, 2007

Mod note: A few comments removed. Please don't hector askers with "pix plz".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:31 AM on November 18, 2007

We've ruled out termite king? (second row, far right)
posted by Brian B. at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2007

Best answer: Is it this?
posted by tadellin at 11:08 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Neivamyrmex opacithorax (the picture I linked to previously, is known exist in the SF area according to armyants.org, as well.
posted by tadellin at 11:15 AM on November 19, 2007

Put it in an industrial complex, right under the primary heat exchanges, wait for hive/eggs/fun. Keep Ripley away.

i.e. ant farm
posted by Brainy at 1:29 PM on November 20, 2007

Response by poster: Tadellin wins! Sorry I didn't post pix. My macro stuff was at work, and then poker started up... You know.

I think an ant farm might be in order.

Thanks MeFi!
posted by asavage at 11:03 PM on November 20, 2007

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