The Aphaenogaster Occidentalis is often referred to as the “Western Collared Ant”. It is a very colorful ant species that can be found in many parts of Western Canada and the Western US. If you live in an area where this species is domestic, it can make a great beginner ant.
Just like most ant species, the Aphaenogaster Occidentalis can feed on many different food sources including plants and insects.
This species prefers solid foods because they have no social stomach to regurgitate food in order to feed it to their queen. Solid food pieces can be brought back to the nest, which makes it a lot easier for them to bring food to the queen.
The Aphaenogaster Occidentalis has rather slowly growing colonies. If you prefer the colony to grow quicker, you can accelerate the growth by feeding lots of insect protein.
The workers of this species will lay unfertilized eggs for the queen that may hatch into male ants if the queen cannot eat them all.
The Aphaenogaster Occidentalis enjoys warmer temperatures between 21° C (= approx. 70° F) and 27° C (= approx. 80,6° F).
They don’t like too much heat and prefer to stay under rocks where the dirt or sand is cooler.
A formicarium should never be located in a place with direct sunlight because glass allows a room to heat up very quickly and you don’t want to cook your ants.
This species is fine with the low humidity of below 30% – 50%. The normal humidity in a room is usually between 30% and 50%, therefore there is no need to increase the humidity in the formicarium.
The Aphaenogaster Occidentalis can come in different colors ranging from red to black. This feature is very special and every colony can have different color shadings.
The size of the workers is usually between 4mm and 6mm while the queen(s) reach a size of 7mm to 9mm. This species has often several queens in one colony.
The body of the Aphaenogaster Occidentalis has many very short spines that can hardly be seen by the bare eye.
The Aphaenogaster Occidentalis does not necessarily have to hibernate, but in colder regions it is possible for this species to go into hibernation.
Queen – Reproduction
This species has highly polygynous colonies. That means that there is usually more than one queen. The colonies in the wild often start with three to five queens. Unlike other species, these queens will stay together when the colony grow,s and they might even accept new queens.
The colony growth is rather slow compared to other ant species.
The virgin queens and male drones can be seen flying around in the hot summer months between June and September.
The Aphaenogaster Occidentalis feels comfortable in diverse climates.
They can be found in the suburban areas of North America, and are very common in Western Canada and the Western parts of the US. They also live in South-West and South-East of Europe, Australia, South-East Asia, and North Africa.
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Aphaenogaster Occidentalis can make a good beginner pet ant. They have rather slowly growing colonies with multiple queens. The size of the ants is rather small but still big enough to see what’s going on in the formicarium.
This species is not too popular and therefore it can be tricky to get your hands on them if they are not native to your area and you are planning to acquire them online.