Cocktail Ant (Crematogaster)
aka 'Acrobat Ant' or 'Valentine Ant'

The Cocktail Ant is a microscopic insect, measured in tenths of a milimetre.

A Queen Cocktail Ant mates with a single male, during a 'nuptial flight'. He dies after this action and she lands, removing her wings, which she no longer needs. She lays a multitude of eggs, which may be devoured by the Queen, or larvae. Larvae grow into Cocktail Ants, which the Queen rears.

Spiders and some insects and other ants immune to the Coctail Ant's venom.

The Coctail Ant lives inside the corms of the Whistling Thorn Acacia Tree. It eats the inside of the corm, to make a house, leaving a tiny hole for an entrance. With many corms, each with a hole, when the wind blows, the tree 'whistles'.

Cocktail Ants eat small insects, grasshoppers, termites and wasps. They sting their prey, injecting a venom. They then release a chemical 'alarm pheromone' that tells members of their own species they have captured prey. In this way, they are requesting assistance to carry the prey back to their nest.

Other Acrobat Ant Facts
Acrobat Ants have tiny 'suckers' on their backs, that enable them to carry prey up into their arboral nests. A small enough insect may be carried upwards by one Cocktail Ant. Larger prey may require several Coctail Ants, so they spreadeagle the prey, offering a better purchase.
Cocktail Ants and Whistling Thorn Acacia Trees:
The Whistling Thorn Acacia Tree and the Cocktail Ant have a good relationship. One provides a home, while the other provides protection. When a large animal, for example, a Giraffe, starts to eat the shoots and leaves, the Coctail Ants converge on the animal and protect the tree, by biting the lips and nose of the animal.

Photographed in Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:acacia tree, acrobat ant, cocktail ant, insect, kenya, valentine ant, whistling thorn acacia, wildlife

Cocktail Ant ~ House in Whistling Thorn Acacia

Corm of Whistling Thorn Tree, showing Cocktail Ants and hole into corm that is their home.

Cocktail Ant ~ A Whistling Thorn Acacia Tree

Whistling Thorn Tree in Olare Orok Conservancy, bordering Masai Mara, Kenya.

Cocktail Ant ~ Balancing

Cocktail ant balancing on a leaf, its shadow showing beneath.