Acrobat ant update

Acrobat ant update

Last year, I discovered Crematogaster scutellaris ants on the cork I purchased for my new Tall Orchidarium.  Crematogaster scutellaris ants are known as acrobat ants, but these ants are found in many different countries, so they’ve got many other common names, too.  With their distinctive amber coloured heads and pointed abdomens, these ants are easy to identify.  We wouldn’t expect to find these ants in the UK; Crematogaster scutellaris ants native range includes the Mediterranean, North Africa, Italy, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and France.

I am very interested in insects and my heart has always been full of love for the natural world.  Up until last autumn, I hadn’t ever considered using an ant trap before.  But it’s difficult to accurately predict the full impact that an accidental introduction of a non-native ant species could have on our native ants, as well as on other UK insects and plants.  Consequently last year, I purchased an ant trap for my Tall Orchidarium, one for my kitchen, and another trap for the car that was driven to collect my cork, in an attempt to contain this episode.

Crematogaster scutellaris, also known as the acrobat ant, pictured exploring an Aerangis hyaloides flower, on the 7th February 2020.

Since I discovered I was housing my own Crematogaster scutellaris ant colony, I’ve been surprised by how many ants I’ve seen and how often I’ve found them.  I’ve spotted these ants inside many of my terrariums.  Rarely does a day pass without an ant being spotted.  My ant traps have now been in operation for a good few months, so you’d be forgiven if you expected my ant problem to be solved by now, but far from it.  I plan to keep ant traps in position for the rest of the year, at least.  But I’ll review this and extend my ant trapping period as necessary; I’d rather have an ant trap in place for too long a period than to use an ant trap for too short a time.  The main thing that I’m trying to do is to actively prevent this non-native ant species, from escaping into any part of the UK landscape or establishing a colony, in the UK.

Crematogaster scutellaris, also known as the acrobat ant, pictured exploring an Aerangis hyaloides flower, on the 7th February 2020.

My husband is helping me by killing Crematogaster scutellaris ants when he sees them!  Killing another insect is not something I take lightly.  Nor is it something that I feel comfortable about.  However, in this situation, it’s important to respond quickly and to be thorough and meticulous, so as to prevent the ants establishing themselves and to avoid any adverse consequences for native species.

I spotted the ant you see pictured here on an Aerangis hyaloides flower, while I was tending to the plants inside my Tall Orchidarium.  I suspect that at least a few of these Crematogaster scutellaris ants are biting into Aerangis hyaloides‘ flowers’ nectaries to release the flowers’ nectar, so as to enjoy a sweet sugary drink; as I’ve spotted many Aerangis hyaloides flowers with damaged nectaries.  Naturally, the punctured blooms have faded sooner than is usual for flowers of this particular orchid species, but these orchids have still been an absolute delight to have around; with their exquisite flowers that sparkle in the light, they’re the perfect winter flower!  If you enjoy crystalline flowers, you can see more orchid flowers here.

Crematogaster scutellaris, also known as the acrobat ant, pictured exploring an Aerangis hyaloides flower, on the 7th February 2020.

Other articles that may interest you…………

To read more about acrobat ants and discover tips for buying, cleaning, and using cork, please click here.

For a planting list of miniature orchids, ferns and other plants that thrive inside terrariums, please click here.

For information on houseplants, please click here.

To see photographs of my Rainforest Terrarium, please click here.

To see photographs of my White Orchid Trial Terrarium, please click here.

To see photographs of my Madagascar Terrarium, please click here.

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