Caresheet for Crematogaster ashmeadi (The Acrobat Ant)

This is a caresheet for Crematogaster ashmeadi (The Acrobat Ant). I put it together for other hobbyists that wish to keep this species as well. Information in this caresheet was provided by my personal experience with this species. Other research and facts were provided by the University of Florida Entomology Department, Antwiki, and the University of Mississippi Entomological Museum. Please enjoy the caresheet below. Written by Michael Borden

Scientific Name: Crematogaster ashmeadi
Common Name(s): The Acrobat Ant
Genus- Crematogaster
Order- Hymenoptera
Family- Formicidae

Average Size In Millimeters:
Workers are monomorphic within this species.
Queen: 6.8mm-8mm
Drone: 3.2mm-3.5mm
Worker: 2.6mm-3.2mm

Distribution:
Native and widespread throughout the Southeastern United States.

Queen Founding Method:
Fully Claustral

Monogyne/Polygyne:
Strictly Monogyne

Mating/Nuptial Flight:
Flights can occur from April into late August after a rainfall on warm humid evenings. Mating takes place while in flight and with only one male. Nuptial flights might be different in other states depending on weather conditions.

Primary Diet: Wild & Captive Colonies
Carbohydrates- Sugar water, maple syrup, honey, strawberry milk syrup, cookies, candies soda, fruit juices, insect honeydew, and extrafloral nectar. (Sugar loving species).
Proteins- Living & dead insects, protein syrups, hard boiled egg yolk, softened meats, and carrion. (Known predators of various wasp species).

Temperature In Captivity:
75-77 degrees farenheit for cool side, and 78-82 degrees fahrenheit for warm side is optimal. Crematogaster ashmeadi like a certain amount of heat for themselves and their brood. A 15 watt reptile heating cable applied to one side of the nest is sufficient for them. I dont recommend temperatures above 88 degrees due to chance of baking your ants. Half the nest should remain cool so the ants can adjust as needed.

Humidity:
Crematogaster ashmeadi require humidity for hydration, and proper growth of their brood. 40-50% humidity within one portion of the nest is sufficient. Water towers are great devices that provide both hydration and adequate moisture throughout the nest.

Bite/Sting Information:
Crematogaster ashmeadi and other species of the genus Crematogaster all possess a stinger. They are also capable of biting which causes no harm to humans and pets. Their sting generally causes no pain, but some people might experience a minor annoyance at the sting site.

Difficulty Rating: Easy To Moderate
An easy species to keep for both beginners and experienced keepers. Novice keepers should be aware that colonies of this species can number well over several thousands, which might be overwhelming for them. Make sure formicarium is well sealed and escape proof.

Additional Observations/Facts:
1. Acrobat Ants are easily identified by their heart-shaped abdomens and unique ability to bend/raise their abdomens over their body. They perform this unique behavior when aggressively defending their nests or hunting prey.
2. Acrobat Ants participate in a form of mutualism called myrmecophytism (Beneficial relationship with trees/plants). In this form of mutualism, plants provide shelter and secreted food, while the ants provide the plants with protection from individuals that might consume them.
3. Ants of the genus Crematogaster are well known to prey upon various species of wasps and their larvae by conducting raids on their nests. Acrobat Ants have evolved very unique characteristics to detect the presence of prey. They have become sensitive to various chemical signals released by wasps and use these signals as cues in the location of their nesting sites.
4. Crematogaster ashmeadi are primarily an arboreal nesting species, but will also nest within the ground. Newly mated queens seek out abandoned termite and carpenter ant galleries to found their colony. They will also use other spaces dug out by various wood boring insects within a tree or rotting log.
5. Acrobat Ants will not tolerate other species of ants (even their own species). They will greatly swarm and fend off any intruding species from both their arboreal and ground nesting sites. Acrobat workers release a uniquely potent pheromone that causes other workers to swarm quickly and aggressively compared to other ant species.
6. Species within this genus might be considered by some as house invading pests. They can be found inside residential homes seeking out sugary foods on countertops, cabinets and around dishwashers. 

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