Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Leaf Cutting Ants need extra boost in cold weather

As some Blog-followers and friends of the Park might remember, we introduced in a small colony of Leaf Cutting Ants to our Collection in 2009. The Ants were brought in from the Amazon in South America and so are really precious! One of the key husbandry priorities is to maintain warm, humid conditions for the ants to at all times – we aim for temperatures of between 20 and 30 degrees centigrade.

To-date we’ve succeeded in this and our colony has really thrived and multiplied. However, when the outside temperature drops to –4 degrees centigrade (and the wind chill factor makes it feel even colder) it’s quite a challenge! The Ants are based in our Discovery Zone/Education Centre which isn’t centrally heated. We therefore rely on overhead heat lamps and water heaters to produce the necessary warmth.

The last two mornings the temperature readings in the Ant enclosure were lower than the recommended levels, so we’ve stepped in with some interim solutions until additional heating can be installed. Hopefully the colony are ensuring the Queen Ant is warm and comfortable – she is critical to their survival – she can live for up to 15 years, but once she dies the whole colony dies with her.

1st - Nimmo D - Leaf cutter ants 2011 resized

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