Introduction & Overview
I enjoy keeping this species because they develop at a relatively high rate and are great for beginners to start keeping. They are one of the first species I ever kept and have always done really well. This species is definitely hardy and can survive a few mistakes you may make, which makes them very good to keep.
Just like most species of ants, Crematogaster cerasi do really well on heat and thrives when they have access to it. When they don't have access to a heat source they tend to grow at a slower rate, which can be good if you want to slow down their growth rate.
You usually find workers of Crematogaster cerasi foraging in wooded areas in the leaf litter or on trees. This species makes a lot of satellite nests so collecting a wild colony is not recommended.
In my experience, Crematogaster cerasi are good eaters and will often carry their food back to the nest for consumption. They eat liquid sugars, unlike some species such as Aphaenogaster which eat solid sugars.
Crematogaster cerasi can get fairly large on their first year but most commonly get under 100 workers. In mature colonies, they can get very large with worker count being in the tens of thousands. Their nests are usually always permanent.
Queens are significantly larger than the workers of this species. They can vary from light brown to dark brown, appearing as black.
They nest in soil under stones or other objects and in rotting wood, they prefer dryer nesting conditions. They are numerous in suburban/rural areas and in wooded areas but can be found in urban areas.
Crematogaster cerasi can be difficult to differentiate from other species of Crematogaster such as Crematogaster lineolata. Crematogaster cerasi is overall slightly bigger and has different hairs on the mesosoma.
This species doesn't have any special care other than they overwinter and lay eggs the following spring. They are monogynous and are fully claustral.
Signs of infertility will show in the next season when she lays eggs. If she looks skinny and is starving then offer her some sugars (a very small amount.)
82f (28c) with gradient
Indications of it being too hot: If it is getting too hot, then their tube/formicarium will most likely start to produce condensation on the sides. and workers frantically trying to get the brood away from that side of the nest.
Indications of it being too cold: If it is too cold, then their brood will develop more slowly compared to heated. It won't negatively affect the colony's health, just their growth.
(The heat should be in a gradient)
In my experience, it is all colony-based with heating. Only half of my colonies are even attracted to the heat. Although the colonies on the heat are more developed compared to the colonies non-heated.
Humidity: Usually 40-50% humidity is good for this species, if it is getting too dry they may collect the brood and put it in one corner where there is still some moisture. If it is too wet then they may move their brood out of the formicarium and into the outworld or the tube that leads to it.
Time to first workers
3-4 weeks when heated to 82f (28c) with gradient
Vibrations, exposing to light when not conditioned to it.
It will most likely vary in the time you get your first workers. If heated then expect a faster growth rate compared to keeping them at room temperature.
It could take queens a few days to settle in the tube. If she was caught in a temperate region then she most likely will not lay eggs until the next spring. You will have to hibernate her in a colder area, like a mini-fridge at 47F (8c). Anything below 40 is a risk of death. She will lay eggs and found in the next spring.
Tubs and tubes
I keep my colonies in this setup and so far they are thriving.
When they are still a young colony (under 100 workers) they probably won't forage very much for food, so place food at their nest entrance. The first generation workers will take protein such as Fruit flies, Crickets, Roaches, Mealworms, Superworms, Waxworms. For sugars, they will gladly accept Raw honey, Honey water (1:2), Sugar water (1:2).
Their frequency of meals depends on worker size and amount of brood. Always keep sugars in the setup for them to eat. Once they are done just replenish. If they bury it in their trash, just replace it with fresh sugars. Feed them protein whenever they finish their previous meal(every 1-2 days usually). Feed proportionate meals, don't feed an adult cricket to a 6 worker colony, a few fruit flies or parts of the cricket will suffice.
Get a tub that has rounded edges or no 90-degree corners, this genus is notorious for escaping. Talcum baby powder mixed with 91% rubbing alcohol and a 2" thick barrier works perfectly for me. I've heard olive oil works as well but I have not tested this method myself for crematogaster. The baby powder should have talcum powder in it, if it is cornstarch based then it will not be effective at stopping ants.
You usually want to keep them in the tube until it gets too difficult to feed (workers escaping and constantly picking at the cotton.) Once this starts to occur and is still too small for a formicarium, then I would put them in tubs and tubes set up.
I would only do this if you know you can keep them from escaping. A different route would be a small formicarium and an outworld. I would get a nest that is heating friendly and is made of AAC or similar.
From my experience, this species can eat a lot if you provide them with food. So I would make sure you are on top of their feedings as the colony grows larger.
I would keep the outworld dry and as bare as possible just to keep them from moving into it and will make it easier to clean. Make sure the outworld is sealed and has proper ventilation.
Here are some videos about this species:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34PvOfPx5c4 - Taking them out of hibernation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt158sjZCKc - Simple care guide for them.
This species flies through early August-October with most flights occurring in September in my local area. They also fly at dusk/late afternoon.
I hope this care sheet has provided enough information to start beginning to take care of this species. Thank you for reading through this and hope it helps with any concerns you have.
Thank you to Olives and Amatty for helping me get more information about this species.
Thank you to Acrux#5393 for some pics (max on the discord)