The Aphaenogaster Picea is often referred to as the “Pitch-Black Collared Ant”. This species is common in many parts of Canada, the Eastern part of the United States, and Mexico. The Aphaenogaster Picea is very closely related to the Aphaenogaster Rudis. These two species share many similarities. The Aphaenogaster can make a great beginner-pet-ant.
Just like the Aphaenogaster Occidentalis and the Aphaenogaster Rudis, the Aphaenogaster Picea is a species with no social stomach. That means that they are not able to regurgitate food and feed it to their queen. Therefore they prefer solid food that they can chop into small pieces which are easy to transport compared to liquids.
They feed on various food sources including plants, fruits, and insects of all kinds.
With a steady source of protein fed through insects, the colonies can grow quicker.
If you offer them materials that can soak up liquids, such as cotton or tissues, they will collect liquids with these materials and carry it back to their nest.
The Aphaenogaster Picea enjoys warmer temperatures between 21° C (= approx. 70° F) and 27° C (= approx. 80,6° F).
Even though they prefer warmer temperatures, they don’t have a problem if the temperature is lower than 21° C. Anything above 14° C is fine for this species.
Place the formicarium in a place with no direct sunlight. Glass tanks can heat up very quickly and this ant species do not like sudden temperature increases.
This species does best in low humidites of below 30% – 50% which is just around the normal room temperature.
Despite their Englisch name, the Aphaenogaster Picea is not pitch-black. In fact, just like die Aphaenogaster Occidentalis and the Aphaenogaster Rudis, the Aphaenogaster Picea can in different shades of dark red, brown, up to black. It has tiny spines on the body and head and can be separated from other Aphaongaster species by their yellowish tips on their antennae.
The workers are usually around 4mm to 6mm big, while the queens are around 7mm to 8mm. Some queens are even 11mm to 13mm big.
The Aphaenogaster Picea hibernates during the winter months for 4 to 5 months. During that time, the temperature should be around 4° C and 6° C. You can keep your ants in the fridge during hibernation.
Queen – Reproduction
The overall colony growth is rather slow. The Aphaenogaster Picea colonies can have one or several queens. Both is possible.
This species is known for their nuptial flight between May and August, depending on the area they live in. Just like most other ant species, the nuptial flights usually take place on a sunny or cloudy day with no rainfall, but after a light rain so that the soil is damp and soft.
The Aphaenogaster Picea is native in suburban areas in North and East America, in the East of Canada, North Africa, in South-West and South-East Europe, Australia, and South-East Asia
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Aphaenogaster Picea is a good ant species to start with. Just like the Aphaenogaster Occidentalis and the Aphaenogaster Rudis, the colonies of this species grow rather slowly. They can be hard to start with, but easy to keep, once the colony grew a bit bigger. The colony has an average lifetime of 5 to 10 years.
This species is known for eating the skin of various seeds and dropping the rest for disposal which leads to the growth of many new plants.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂