Stigmatomma reclinatum

Stigmatomma reclinatum

     This is a medium-sized ant about 6-7 mm in size.

     Their natural wild habitat is the remote evergreen forest where they create nests under pieces of old wood or amongst tangled roots. Colonies are usually quite small circa 100-300 individuals.

     They do not have a recognizable queen but a mated worker called a gamergate lays the eggs. Workers are usually solitary hunters who forage underground or in the leaf litter. Their prey is often arthropods, especially centipedes. Once prey is caught it is taken back to the nest and simply placed near the larvae which will then consume it without any help from the workers.

     To feed their larvae in their natural habitat the workers usually hunt specific arthropods such as centipedes, but our colonies have been accustomed to taking a range of food and seem quite happy with most small dead insects.

     The workers of this species do not take food directly themselves, but drink or suck the blood/juice (hemolymph) of their larvae, hence the name "Dracula ants" or "Vampire ants". In reality, they perform a form of non-destructive cannibalism, by cutting a hole in the skin of their larvae to feed on the exuding fluid. This practice, also known as Larval Hemolymph Feeding (LHF), consists of ingestion of hemolymph dripping from punctures made by adults in the larval integument. However, this action does not seem to harm the larvae, which continue growing and eventually emerge as normal adults.