Parasitic (Slave Making Ants)

Parasitic Ants are not a genus of ants, it is a specialized survival strategy that many different types of ants adopt. There can be parasitic Lasius, Temnothorax, Aphenogaster and Formica species found in Canada but the the most common are Formica and Lasius. 

There are two main types of parasitic ants, slave raiders and temporary parasites. The colonies of slave raiders are constantly on the move, raiding other colonies of the same genus for their brood (developing workers). The brood will then eclose into workers and serve the parasitic queen as her own. Most parasitic ants are built to be stronger and more resilient than non-parasitic ants and parasitic ant queens are not able to found a colony on their own. 

The other type of parasitic ants are called temporary parasites, as their name suggests, the newly mated queens cannot found nanitics (first workers) on their own. The queens will find a small colony of the same genus and kill the founding queen, she then rubs the smell of the original queen on her own body thereby tricking the workers into thinking that she was always their queen. The workers would then serve her and raise up her workers until they die off and the colony becomes a healthy mature parasitic colony, ready to produce reproductives and repeat the process.

Parasitic ants can be found all across Canada but are commonly seen in forests, deserts and prairies, usually alongside their host species nests. They are also highly variable with countless different colourations that can vary from location to location, the workers of wood ants are usually very fast moving, slim in appearance, and can exhibit flamboyant colouration and patterns. 

Parasitic Formica species however, require a lot more work and love to be put in by the keeper during their founding stages. Providing freshly mated queens with pupae or callow workers of the host species is necessary in encouraging the queens to begin laying eggs. 

Happy ant keeping!