For a while now I've been keeping an Iridomyrmex purpureus queen I obtained from another keeper. At the time I obtained her, she was in a test tube with very little water remaining in the reservoir, primarily because said keeper had tacked the tube onto the side of an outworld and so it was effectively "open air". Despite this though the colony seemed to be doing okay and there were 5 nanitic workers. I prioritised getting and moving them into a better setup though, as there was no way for me to refill the reservoir.
I thus purchased a professionally made ytong nest and outworld. I unhooked the tube from the existing outworld and plugged it into the ytong nest, which I was watering (with filtered water, not chlorinated tap water). The colony moved into the new nest within an hour and all seemed great. This was now a couple of weeks ago. I have been keeping the nest watered (the whole nest is damp to ensure there's some small humidity in there, but there's no water or condensation visible on any surfaces), they have oxygen by dint of the outside connection, and I even replaced their old test tube with a new one with a filled reservoir in case they wanted to move back. They seemed to be doing fine.
In the outworld I was putting down bottlecaps of sugar water with cotton wool balls in them. I was alternating this with honey water every other day to see if they would take either of them. They didn't seem to want them. Despite frequently exploring the outworld, none of the workers seemed interested and they certainly didn't attempt to feed the queen. I was also putting down various meats and crickets every day to see if they would take any of those and feed the growing brood, which again they didn't seem to be interested in. I have some new Camponotus colonies on the go too, and they go absolutely mad for the honey water (every worker and queen has a filled gaster), so there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with what I'm using.
All colonies have been kept at room temperature, which does fluctuate a little bit because I'm in Australia and it's currently the summer here. They're all kept out of sunlight though (in fact, it's quite gloomy inside) and any temperature swings are quite small. The only thing I haven't done though is cover the nest (which I haven't done for any of the others either) because I wanted to observe them without suddenly stressing them with light each time. They had been doing fine in the test tube with regular daytime/evening light, after all. I also haven't been adding heat, which I wouldn't expect I would need to do anyway due to this being a locally sourced species and it currently being summer.
This morning I made the harrowing discovery of my queen missing from her nest. I found her upside down in the outworld, legs kicking about slowly as her workers were trying desperately to drag her back into the nest. She very much seemed to be on her way out. I have very carefully attempted to feed her some honey and sugar water (and even tried plain filtered water) to see if I can revive her at all, but she doesn't seem to be interested in any of them. At this point I've sadly resigned myself to losing her.
As far as I'm aware, I've done everything I should needed to have done to keep the colony and queen alive and thriving. What I'm trying to figure out is if there's a pathological issue with this colony itself to explain why they're not feeding (and now dying) or whether I've done anything wrong myself. If I'm the one at fault here I would like to know why so I can avoid the loss of future queens.
Does anyone have any suggestions or wisdom they can impart on me?
Edited by Eldaas, January 1 2019 - 9:15 PM.