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The Ultimate Guide to Raising Carebara Diversa Asian Marauder Ants

carebara diversa care
Carebara diversa queen ant with brood

Carebara diversa, also known as East Indian Harvesting Ant or Asian Marauder Ant, is a species of marauder ant that has captivated enthusiasts and researchers alike due to its unique characteristics and complex social behaviour.

These ants are probably the hardest for antkeepers. From their demanding climate needs and insatiable appetite to their speedy growth, you'll certainly concur if you're unacquainted with the Carebara diversa ant species. Recognised as a member of the Formicidae family in the Hymenoptera order, these ants offer an intriguing area for examination, most notably in their native tropical habitats.

This guide delves into the physical attributes and behavioural characteristics of Asian Marauder Ants, their environment and geographical spread, as well as shedding light on the colony's life cycles, and importantly the captivating role of a living queen. Additionally, we delve into practical advice for those interested in keeping Carebara diversa in formicariums, making it an essential read for anyone fascinated by ant colony behaviour or considering Carebara diversa care.


Physical and Behavioral Characteristics

Exploring the Varied World of Carebara Diversa Workers and Their Roles

Carebara Diversa, known for its striking polymorphism, exhibits a fascinating range of physical and behavioural characteristics that are closely intertwined with the colony's functioning and survival. This section delves into the distinct roles and physical traits of its worker ants, providing insights into their complex social structure.

  1. Worker Castes and Physical Characteristics:

  • Minor Workers: Ranging from 1.3 to 2.5 mm, these ants have yellowish-brown to reddish-brown bodies. Initially tasked with caring for the larvae, their roles expand as they age.

  • Major Workers: Significantly larger, reaching 15mm, these workers have reddish-brown to blackish-brown bodies with nearly square massive heads and large triangular mandibles. They play crucial roles in defence and heavy lifting within the colony.

  • Foraging and Environmental Modification: Carebara Diversa is adept at modifying its environment to suit its needs. This includes clearing trunk trails and constructing earthen arcades and scaffolds during raids to manage large food items.

  • Use of Pheromone Trails: These ants rely heavily on pheromone trails for navigation. Disruption of these trails can lead to chaos and crowding, highlighting their importance in colony coordination.

  1. Interactions and Hunting:

  • Group Hunting: Exhibiting group-hunting behaviour, masses of workers form long, dense trails to efficiently locate and overpower prey. Minor workers often reach the prey first, with larger ants delivering the final blows.

  • Association with Other Species: While primarily predators, Carebara Diversa is also prey for certain species and hosts symbiotic relationships, such as with the chrysidid wasp in Thailand.

This in-depth examination of Carebara Diversa's physical attributes and behaviours highlights the intricate and effective nature of this ant species, sparking considerable intrigue among both hobbyists and scientists.


Habitat and Distribution

Carebara diversa, commonly referred to as the Asian Marauder Ant, showcases a remarkable distribution across various regions, thriving in diverse habitats from dense tropical forests to urban outskirts. Here’s a detailed look at the habitat and distribution of this fascinating species:

  • Regional Spread:

  • Asia: Predominantly found across India, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, the Philippines, and parts of Japan. Notable for its adaptability to various climatic conditions within these regions.

  • Australia: Presence noted, indicating its adaptability to different environments outside its native range.

  • Specific Locations:

  • Japan: Limited field records, primarily from the southern islands of Okinawa and Chicchi-jima. Some populations, such as those in Kanagawa Prefecture, are believed to have been introduced commercially.

  • Madagascar: Recorded in virtually every explored habitat, highlighting its extensive adaptability.

  • Environmental Adaptations:

  • Colonial Habitats: Typically forms large colonies found in soil or under rocks and stones, demonstrating a preference for secure, concealed environments.

  • Interaction with Other Species: Engages in complex ecological interactions, serving as both predator and prey within its ecosystem. Notably, it hosts symbiotic relationships and serves as prey for specific predators like tiger beetles in India.

The widespread presence and versatility of Carebara diversa underscore its ecological importance and resilience, thereby making it a fascinating species for both myrmecology enthusiasts and researchers.


Diet and Foraging Strategies

carebara diversa ants eat Best Ants UK protein jelly
Carebara diversa ants love our Best Ants UK protein jelly

Diverse Dietary Habits:

  • Primary Diet: Predominantly, the Carebara diversa is a carnivore, feeding on a multitude of tiny insects. Its prey includes specific creatures such as tiger beetles, mites, entomobryid collembolans, and arthropod eggs.

  • Plant-Based Foods: Alongside animal prey, these ants partake in plant-based sustenance. Their food intake is topped up with fruits, grains, nuts, an array of seeds, and occasionally, pieces of tree bark. This amalgamation of carnivorous and herbivorous behaviour emphasises their adaptability in diverse habitats.

  • Alternatives: Best Ants UK Protein jelly is the best possible substitution for life food.

Foraging Techniques and Strategies:

  • Foraging Columns and Raids: The Carebara diversa ants are recognised for their systematic scavenging approaches, creating elongated formations that can reach up to 100 meters from their abode. These formations occasionally include arches made of soil fragments, offering shelter and architectural stability.

  • Speed and Efficiency of Raids: Their invasions are thoroughly thought out and carried out, progressing at a pace of 2-3 meters every hour. These invasions can transition to group strategies, covering wider regions to optimise the gathering of sustenance.

  • Controlled Diet: Under closely monitored conditions such as those in formicarium, one can offer Carebara diversa an assortment of sustenance including earthworms, mealworms, syrup, jelly, and prepared chicken (sans salt). This regulated diet regimen aids in preserving their well-being and mimics their instinctive feeding practices to a certain degree.

Colony Life Cycle and Reproduction

Understanding the Colony Life Cycle and Reproduction of Carebara Diversa

Colony Structure and Queen’s Role:

  • Queen Dynamics: Within the Carebara diversa species, known as Queen Dynamics, the queen plays a vital role. She stands out due to her substantial size compared to other members of the colony and is primarily responsible for reproduction. After a single mating session, she retains the sperm to fertilize her eggs throughout her lifespan. Her size is quite remarkable, ranging from 22 to 25mm.

  • Polygyny: The species display polygyny, which means a single colony can host numerous queens, thereby boosting the colony's ability to withstand adversity and enhancing its growth prospects. In nature, some colonies have been observed to house up to 50 queens operating in unison.

  • Worker Roles: The worker roles are split into two categories - minor workers and major workers. The minors are tasked with caring for the offspring, whereas the majors protect the nest. This division of labour ensures an efficient and structured colony system.

Reproductive Strategies:

  • Swarming for Reproduction: The process of reproduction takes place through a swarm, where winged males and untouched queens venture out for mating. This often involves partners from various colonies to uphold genetic diversity.

  • Colony Expansion: After the mating process, a queen, now fertilised, sets up a fresh colony. This can sometimes result in colonies housing as many as 500,000 workers.

Subspecies and Adaptation:

  • Diversity Among Subspecies: Nine distinct subspecies of Carebara diversa, including Carebara diversa draco and Carebara diversa philippina, have been identified, each uniquely adapted to their specific environmental niche.

  • Nest Characteristics: Contrary to the temporary dwelling of army ants, the Carebara diversa develops enduring habitats, essential for the consistent growth and sustainability of their vast colonies.

A detailed study of the life cycle and breeding patterns of Carebara diversa reveals their intricate social structure and flexible survival methods. This makes them an intriguing subject for both hobbyists and scholars.


Keeping Carebara diversa in Formicarium

When keeping Carebara diversa in Formicarium, it's essential to replicate their natural conditions to ensure their health and well-being. Here are the key considerations:

Environmental Conditions:

  • Humidity: Maintain a humidity level of 60-80% in the arena and 70-90% inside the nest. This mimics their natural tropical environment, crucial for their survival.

  • Temperature: The arena should be kept between 22-35°C, while the nesting area should have a slightly narrower range of 27-33°C. These conditions help simulate the warm, humid conditions of their native habitats.

  • Nesting Materials: Use materials like sandy loam substrate or plaster of Paris. These materials provide the necessary insulation and moisture retention.

  • Initial Setup: Start with a test tube setup using cocopeat as the substrate, ideal for young colonies.

  • Transition to Larger Formicarium: Once the colony grows to about 80-100 workers, transfer them to a Natural Ant Farm. This provides more space and better humidity control.

Special Considerations:

  • Light Sensitivity: Carebara diversa may not be as sensitive to light as once thought; however, care should still be taken with lighting conditions.

  • Mite Infestations: Regularly check the live food you feed the ants for mites, as these can be common. Proper cleanliness and maintenance of the formicarium can help manage these pests.

  • Handling: Due to their fast growth and potential aggression, these ants are not recommended for children or beginner antkeepers. They require careful handling to avoid stress and disruption to the colony.

By adhering to these guidelines, enthusiasts and researchers can successfully maintain healthy Carebara diversa colonies in captivity, observing their fascinating behaviours and complex social structures.


Allow us to share some insights on how to care for these tiny beings in a controlled environment. These ants are extremely hostile and will confront anything that enters their surroundings.

Their bite can cause significant discomfort, however, they don't possess a sting. I discovered this through personal experience with a moderately sized major, approximately 12mm in size, which resulted in a laceration. So, refrain from attempting this!

Avoid being misled by numerous ant vendors who may attempt to sell you the Carebara Affinis in place of the Carebara Diversa. The size distinction between the queens of these two species is significant and can serve as an identifying characteristic. Specifically, queens of Carebara Diversa measure approximately 2.5 cm, whereas their Carebara Affinis counterparts are notably smaller, with a size of around 1.7 cm.


carebara diversa marauder ants care
Carebara diversa marauder ants. Soldier, media and minor workers

In 2019, I began with a single queen and a mere 50 petite workers sourced from Malaysia. Within a year, I nurtured this small group into a bustling colony of over 5000 workers ranging in size from 2mm to 8mm. Additionally, a handful of gigantic majors measuring about 15mm also emerged. However, the journey wasn't easy. The transformation from egg to worker ant typically requires 26-30 days, provided the ants are kept at an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. For the larger majors, the process is lengthier, approximately 45-50 days. The ant habitat has undergone numerous enhancements during this period. On an average day, the queen can produce around a hundred eggs.


About ant farms, I could inundate you with a plethora of details, but brevity is key here. The foundation should be a blend of sand and loam in equal proportions. Thoroughly mix it, next, portion it out into individual bags and refrigerate them for about a week to ten days. This process helps eliminate any potential contaminants or microbial life. Post this stage, each bag (around 500 grams) should be microwaved (at 800 Watts) for 3 minutes. Subsequently, open the bags and allow the mixture to cool down. And there you have it, you're all set to get started. If you're in a rush to accommodate your new Carebara diversa colony then you can buy the substrate from us.

I do not recommend using a heating mat for the ant farm but a 12-volt self-regulating heating cable powered up by a 5-volt transformer and of course, controlled by a digital multi-sensor thermoregulator with time setting option control, so you can set different temperatures during the daytime and overnight.


carebara diversa marauder ants farm
Carebara diversa ants farm

Now, we're onto the challenging bit. Arrange it in a way where 30% of the heat impacts the bottom, and the remaining 70% is distributed across the top third of the nest tank, within a soil filling no more than 100mm high. Before starting, ensure to coat the heating cable with PVA glue; this will be crucial for reinforcing the nest's structure later on. Utilise Natural Jute Thread for additional reinforcement when introducing the soil. Have you ever noticed the configuration of underfloor heating pipes? In the same fashion, position the jute thread every 25 mm, beginning at the first layer at 25mm, followed by 50mm and ultimately at 75mm. The gap between each thread is also 25mm – simple to remember. Bypassing this stage can lead to the nest's chambers potentially collapsing due to their substantial dimensions; hence, avoid making errors and inadvertently entombing the queen.

Adjust the temperature control to 27 degrees Celsius for the night hours and elevate it to 33 degrees Celsius throughout the day. Refrain from wetting the earth, but if a fog generator isn't available, mist the enclosure's walls several times daily. Aim to maintain an atmospheric moisture level ranging between 90 and 97% to ensure the substrate stays perfectly damp, providing an optimal environment for the sustained growth of these creatures.


carebara diversa ants eat locusts in an Best Ants UK ant farm

Maintaining a colony like this necessitates a vast quantity of food each day, and one must exercise extreme caution while disposing of remaining food to avoid damaging the chambers of their nest. I found out that these creatures have a preference for deceased insects and can be provided with a diverse array of protein-heavy foodstuff. This can include mealworms, crickets, and locusts, as well as uncooked chicken, tuna, and chia seeds on an occasional basis.



Conclusion

In this thorough investigation, we've immersed ourselves in the captivating realm of Carebara diversa. We've explored everything from their complex social systems and hunting tactics to the fine equilibrium needed to sustain these beings in formicariums. Our voyage across various environments, coupled with an in-depth examination of their feeding habits, colony life cycle, and breeding approaches, emphasises the sophistication and hardiness of this ant species. Their ability to adapt, along with the valuable knowledge provided for hobbyists aspiring to nurture them in confinement, underscores the profound comprehension required to conserve the natural wonder that is Carebara diversa.

The importance of Carebara diversa is not limited to their ecological contributions, but also encapsulates the complex relationships within their habitats, making them an interesting focus for ongoing studies and observations. For those fascinated by the idea of deeper involvement with these extraordinary ants, the availability of Carebara diversa colonies provides a distinctive chance to witness their intricate societies up close. For enthusiasts in the UK eager to embark on this journey, Carebara Diversa ants are available for sale, providing a gateway to deeper exploration and appreciation of these fascinating creatures.


FAQs

1. How should one care for marauder ants?

Marauder ants can be challenging to maintain in captivity, often due to stress from adapting to a new environment. To help them settle, provide sugary foods which generally help to soothe many colonies. Additionally, regularly check for parasites such as nematodes, mites, or phorid flies that could be affecting their health.

2. What are the ideal environmental conditions for a Carebara Diversa habitat?

For Carebara Diversa, it's important to control the humidity and temperature carefully. The arena should have a humidity level of 60-80%, while the nest should be slightly more humid, between 70-90%. Temperature-wise, keep the arena between 25-37°C and the nesting area should be slightly cooler, ranging from 26-29°C.

3. What is the typical diet of marauder ants?

Marauder ants primarily feed on small animals, particularly insects. They also gather nectarivorous materials. These ants are known for their behaviour of forming long foraging columns, occasionally covering their trails with arcades made from soil particles.

4. Which ant species is recommended for beginners?

For those new to ant keeping, Lasius niger, commonly known as the black garden ant, is recommended. This species is easier to raise compared to others, making it a good choice for beginners.

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