Female Hatchling

Female Hatchling
Name: unnamed
Species: Melligaster
Birthday: Monday, September 14, 2020
Owner: pixiequeen

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Stage Progress: 75.65%
Overall Progress: 86.85%

Worker melligaster ants can often be seen ferrying eggs around the nest. Their jaws deliver a painful bite and can rend flesh from the bones of small animals, but when carrying eggs the ants take care not to bite too hard. The tiny eggs quickly grow into larvae which feed exclusively on the sweet ant honey produced by the colony's repletes. As larvae, they do little but eat and grow, shedding their exoskeletons every few days. Within a few weeks, they pupate and become part of the worker force, usually tending to different tasks around the nest as they age. Younger ants will care for eggs and pupae or work on construction projects, while older ants near the end of their lives spend more time foraging and defending the nest. Only the largest and healthiest workers become repletes, and their sole job is to store food in their gasters as a precaution during the dry season.

Melligaster ants are an unusual species which prefers small colonies of a few hundred to a few thousand individuals. They can be found in many hot, dry places in the world, including Foenara, Calidis, and especially the Etain Desert. Workers in melligaster colonies are generally brown and unassuming, and only reach a maximum size of about a centimeter or so. However, up to half of the colony's workers may serve as living storage for a honey-like substance the colony makes from gathered nectar. These storage workers, called repletes, often become so stuffed with the ant honey that the membrane between the sclerites of their abdomens become swollen and round, making them look like small striped grapes. Too heavy to move, the repletes are housed deep within the nest where the climate is stable and they are unlikely to be disturbed by predators. During droughts or food shortages, the repletes will regurgitate portions of the ant honey to feed their fellow workers. Melligaster ants are considered a delicacy in many places, including Voltar and Synara City, where they can be sold live to connoisseurs of unusual foods. They are said to have a light sweet taste and instill a sense of confidence to those who eat them, though eating one's companions is frowned upon at the Keep.

Sprite art: Mysfytt | Description: PKGriffin