Pheidole californica (Californian Big-headed Ant)

Pheidole californica (Californian Big-headed Ant)

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Pheidole californica are is one of the only native Pheidole from Canada, living in a 150km stretch along the Okanagan Valley. Colonies eat just about anything, and grow very quickly if heated and fed frequently. Major workers have large heads used to crack seeds and tear through insect parts. They are particularly notable for the large differences between the "Big-headed" majors and the smaller minor workers.

Pheidole californica is a close relative of Pheidole pilifera, is a granivorous species, and can be often found with lures of walnut and many seeds. These ants should be kept hot to maintain growth, and hibernation is not required. Minor workers range from 1-2mm, and major workers range from 4-5mm, with queens reaching close to 7mm.

Colonies should be kept at above 28 degrees Celsius with humidity levels above 65%.

Wild pictures come from Josiah Kilburn :) Follow him on Instagram at @maxhikephotography

Scientific Name: Pheidole californica
Common Name: Californian Big-headed Ant
Taxonomy: Kingdom: Animalia | Phylum: Arthropoda | Class: Insecta | Order: Hymenoptera | Family: Formicidae | Subfamily: Myrmeicinae | Genus: Pheidole | Species: P. californica
Care Difficulty: Pheidole californica is a beginner leveled species.
Distribution: This species can only found in 3 countries (Canada, USA, and Mexico.) Pheidole californica can only be found in the most westren parts of these countries. As of right now, There are recorded records of P. californica in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Baja California, and Sonora. Here in Canada there is only one province where they can be found. This species has been found multiple times (although rare) in British Coloumbia, typically within the more arid regions of BC.
Habitat: This species can be found in areas with arid conditions. They have been recorded to live in areas with sandy soils. Colonies have also been observed to nest in soil with high clay content.
Colony form: This species is polygynous meaning that a colony can have multiple queens.
Queen: Queens of this species reach a size of around 7 mm.
Worker: Pheidole calidornica workers are able to grow to around 1-2 mm.
Soldier: Like all species of Pheidole, this species has majors (also known as soldiers). Majors of this species will range anywhere from 4-5 mm.
Males: There are no recorded sizes of Pheidole californica males.
Nutrition: Pheidole californica will eat almost anything.They will easily take most carbohydrates without issue, this includes: honey, sugar water, honey water, and sunburst ant nectar. When it comes to proteins, Pheidole californica will take almost any protein source most feeder insects such as, fruit flies, crickets, mealworms, superworms, surinam roaches, and discoid roaches. It is generally recommended to feed larger prey items pre-killed because of their small worker sizes. Colonies will most likely have issues taking down large prey items. Pheidole californica have been observed to collect seeds and eat them in the wild. It is acceptable to feed them diiferent types of seeds such as dandelion seeds, walnuts, and almonds.
Air humidity: Pheidole californica should be kept at humidity levels around 65%.
Temperature: This species is a warm loving species. It is recommended to keep colonies above 28C for optimal growth.
Hibernation: Hibernation is not needed nor recommended for this species. Colonies can grow all year long.
Nesting Habits: In the wild they have been observed to nest in sandy soil under objects such as wood, rocks, and other cover.
Kind of Formicaria: Pheidole californica will do well in most formicaria. It is recommended to avoid wood nests for this species. Colonies will do well in any Tarheel ants, Por amor, and Buckeye Myrmecology nest. Due to their small size, it is recommended to keep them in a nest with tight fitting glass to prevent escapes.
Formicaria size: Colonies will often stay relatively small maxing out at a few thousand workers. Due to their small size, colonies can be kept in a small formicarium for the majority of their life.
Description: Pheidole californica is an amazing beginner species perfect for someone who is looking for an entertaining desk top ant species. Due to their small size, they can be kept in small formicaria making them not take up a lot of space. Colonies will swarm food making it very entertaining to watch as you see large headed soldiers and smaller sized workers consume and break down their food.
Development: Colonies will have their nuptioal flights during April, May, and June, primarly after a rain fall or high humidity.
Offering quantity: Queen, Queen + 1-5 workers, Queen + 5-10 workers, Queen + 10-25 workers, Queen + 25-50 workers, Queen + 50-100 workers.

Test tube inserts are upgrades to the test tube setups provided. If purchased, they come with a dark hood to lower light levels for the colony, an insert which provides a living space, and a feeding insert to provide food for the colony.

Ungrouted inserts are a blank plastic insert which helps provide a more suitable space for the ants to grip (as opposed to glass tubes), while grouted inserts are bedded with a substrate which helps distribute humidity more evenly throughout the test tube, and helps certain ants create their cocoons more easily. Overall, grouted inserts are more comfortable for the ants.

You will NOT need an insert for colonies in test tubes, but it does help for certain species. IF you are moving the ants into a nest immediately, do NOT get a test tube insert.

This species comes from more tropical areas than Canada, and are not cold-tolerant. Thus, we will not ship them in the winter

Just a warning, we will NOT ship live ants into the US unless the receiver has a permit. If such an order is made, it will be refunded, minus a 10% processing fee and restocking fee

This product is from Canada Ant Colony. The full catalogue, including all variants, can be found at


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