Introduction & Overview
Velvety tree ants are one of my favorite beginner species, right next to veromessor pergandei!
They are very easy to keep. They share some traits with the odorous ant (Tapinoma sessile) in that they stink if they get killed. They're also avid escape artists and need special attention unless you want them all over your ant room!
About the symbiotic tag - there is active research being done on L. Occidentale in this regard, but it is not explored in the antkeeping hobby to my knowledge.
I have not had an infertile queen of these species when I have collected them. Success rate is 90% or higher. Some queens will come out to feed, so providing some food during the founding stage (on a piece of wax paper) may help bring in more initial workers.
From my own experiences, the queen prefers the humid part of the nest while the colony will put the brood wherever the heat is. A gradient is not that important during the founding stage.
Time to first workers
4-6 weeks when heated at 80f, depending on how long it takes to settle
These are very easy to found, but like all queens you should leave them alone during it. Typically they settle within the first day.
Tubs and tubes
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This species is known to cause some structural damage (per wikipedia). There is also ongoing research with symbiotes.
May be confused with tapinoma.
Thanks for reading!