Acromyrmex Versicolor – The Desert Leafcutter

We have a handful of 2-3 queen colonies for sale. This is your chance to get a colony before we take a break for winter.

Colony Cost $75

Includes the following:

  • Small A. versicolor colony with workers and between 2 and 3 queens
  • Small hydro-stone nest (about hockey puck size)
  • A matching outworld
  • Bonus: free dried flowers!
  • A hydrating syringe for adding water to the water ports.
  • A care guide with information about about your colony and how to take care of it.

Shipping Cost $50

Free local pickup in Tempe, AZ

Includes the following:

Valid Shipping States

Local pickup is recommended but if you need us to ship, the address must be in one of these states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • New Mexico
  • Texas

Colony Formation

Acromyrmex versicolor has mating flights in July and August and that is when we capture our queens.

Please be aware that the number of queens in your colony will decrease over time. The workers decide if a queen is fit to continue with the colony or not.

Brand new colonies will have 5 queens, 0 workers, and a small amount of fungus. Colonies 6-months old will have 3 queens, 15+ workers, and half of the nest chamber will be filled with fungus. Colonies a year old will have 1 or 2 queens, 50 or more workers, and a large amount of fungus that will fill most of the nest.

Disclaimers and FAQ’s

Why are leafcutters special?

These are not your typical ants!  These ants have sharp jaws that cut leaves and flowers into tiny pieces.  They carry the plant matter back to their nest where the pieces decay.  Fungus grows in the decaying leaves and flowers, and the ants eat this fungus.  We call this a “fungus garden” and the ants are the farmers.  Each colony contains one or more queen ants that lay eggs into the fungus.  After about a year, most colonies will only have one remaining queen who was deemed fit by the workers.  The other queens are killed off one by one and we aren’t sure exactly how they decide who to keep and who to let go.

How do I take care of them?

A care guide is included with every purchase. Here’s the short version: keep the thermostat at or below 82 degrees Fahrenheit.  The nest needs to remain humid so it’s important to follow the watering schedule.  The nests we sell have “water ports” on opposite ends and that’s where you add a small amount of water every 3 or 4 days, or a large amount of water every two weeks.  The outworld is where you will add leaves and flowers.  We have found that the colonies prefer dried vegetation but it’s OK to experiment with fresh.  Just make sure there aren’t any little bugs on the flowers or leaves.  We have also found that steel cut oats are popular with the ants.  They are able to cut them into smaller pieces to add to the fungus.

Do you have a live arrival guarantee?

Yes we do. You can look at the fine print here. If for some reason, you are unhappy with your order, please reach out to us by replying to the order confirmation email that was sent to you. We will work with you.

Note: fungus will not look as awesome on arrival

We believe that next-day-arrival shipping paired with an insulated box and a temperature maintaining gel pack is a recipe for success. However, during shipping, the fungus gets moved around and it never looks as good on arrival. The ants are extremely good at repairing the fungus garden and in a few days, it will look great again.

Note: colonies may contain workers not biologically related to the queens

When capturing massive numbers of leafcutting queens, it’s difficult to keep the fungus pellet so we most often need to give each group of queens a bit of donor fungus. Any larvae and pupae are removed from the fungus but it’s impossible to remove all of the eggs. Now, that begs the question, is every queen in each colony fertile? We have no way of knowing. All I can tell you is, we watched them mate and then started capturing them while they were digging. We only captured ones with wings removed.

Are these queens polygynous?

No. These queens are pleometrotic, which means multiple queens found together, live and work together, but this is a temporary arrangement (Rissing et al. 1986). We have heard of colonies that have had multiple queens for years. Eventually, however, only one makes it finally to the end. We have observed that it usually takes about a year for the colony to reduce down to one queen. For information on pleometrosis, check this page out.

Meet (some of) the colonies

Pictures were taken on 9/20/2022
To top