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Iridomyrmex purpureus queen dying. What have I done wrong?


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#1 Offline Eldaas - Posted January 1 2019 - 9:12 PM

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Hi all,

 

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.


#2 Offline Leo - Posted January 2 2019 - 12:25 AM

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This may seem useless, but many colonies die randomly and suddenly without much warning and reason why. My iridomyrmex suddenly died as well a while ago. The same goes for many of my other previous colonies. My iridomyrmex seemed to enjoy mealworms. They mostly ignored the honey, took some sugar water and occasionally accepted crickets.

 

Edit: I checked the link, that nest is waaaay too large for them. It took 53 diacamma to fill one of those, there are/were five workers right?


Edited by Leo, January 2 2019 - 12:26 AM.

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#3 Offline CoolColJ - Posted January 2 2019 - 4:34 AM

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nest is too big, causes more stress, but not a reason why it would kill the queen.
They will just randomly die from natural causes.

From what I hear I.purpureus can just die like that.
And admin of a Facebook group I'm in has lost quite a few queens like that with 20+ workers, and has yet to get a colony of these going....
Just the luck of the draw.

If this is your first colony, a lot of minor things and issues will create self doubt in your ant keeping ability and decisions.
But as you keep more ants and get more experienced, you will discover that sometimes things just happen regardless of what you do.
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Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....  Polyrhachis rufifemur, Camponotus suffusus bendingesis, Myrmecia fulvipes queen
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#4 Offline Eldaas - Posted January 2 2019 - 7:03 AM

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Really appreciate the responses guys. Yes, I was a little worried the nest might be too large but I also couldn't see a reason why that should mean the death of the queen... I thought life would be a little more resilient than that. The issue one always has is upgrading nest size once the colony is established, as you can't really force them to move from a smaller one to a larger one: they're more likely than not (especially this species, upon having done some research) to use both, which takes up valuable real estate by way of connection ports, and this is why I went for a large nest from the get-go. I'm also a little lacking in the funds to keep buying multiple size nests, so I was desperately hoping a one-size-fits-all approach would work and the colony would slowly fill in the space. I will see if I can find a way to junction some tubing to at least get around the upgrading problem.

 

Sad to hear Iridomyrmex p. are prone to this issue, as I find them to be some of the most fascinating ants we get in Australia. I was quite rapt when I picked up this colony (I traveled a long way for them too!) as I had missed their flight this year.

 

Thanks again. Would still love to hear from some more people below if they have experience with this species.

 

Edit: Just discovered some of your journal photography, CoolColJ. Love the work!


Edited by Eldaas, January 2 2019 - 7:06 AM.


#5 Offline CoolColJ - Posted January 2 2019 - 3:48 PM

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Well I do have a small colony of these, and will likely sell in the near future ;)
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Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....  Polyrhachis rufifemur, Camponotus suffusus bendingesis, Myrmecia fulvipes queen
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#6 Offline Eldaas - Posted January 2 2019 - 7:30 PM

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Well I do have a small colony of these, and will likely sell in the near future ;)

 

If only I lived in Sydney! I'm based in Perth, probably the only place you can't trade wildlife with.



#7 Offline Leo - Posted January 3 2019 - 1:00 AM

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Oh yeah, just remembered. Iridomyrmex really like and ant food recipe from The book "the ants"






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