Jump to content

  • Chat
  •  
  •  



Welcome to Formiculture.com!

This is a website for anyone interested in Myrmecology and all aspects of finding, keeping, and studying ants. The site and forum are free to use, and contain no ads for members. Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation points to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!

Photo
- - - - -

Abadayos' Colony Diary


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Abadayos - Posted February 7 2019 - 4:27 PM

Abadayos

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Good morning all!

 

I've been a lurker for a few weeks and now that I've got a good feeling on what's going on both in my own ant colonies and here, I'm confident to start up a (most likely very) sporadic diary/journal of my colonies that I am looking after, and boy is it a few, though to some, it may not be. As I live in Australia several unique species are available to me and many are blocked off due to import laws and general environmental awareness of my area. Also as I'm only just returning to the hobby (pet keeping? I dunno....ant keeping hobby sounds better) I'm pretty much relearning everything from scratch and having a blast doing so. Finding out mistakes and better approches to how I tackle problems is a great feeling.

Here is a list of what I currently have with a brief description of their state and composition, in no particular order:


Pheidole sp. colonies:

I love these l;ittle guys. When I was 10 or so I had a small stand up Milton ant farm with these guys in it...till they escaped overnight. I always see them around the place and the fact they have majors is a bonus as well as being small, even with massive colonies these guys shouldn't take up too much room if I maintain feeding once they hit a certain size. Queens are about 8mm, workers are 2mm, majors are apparently around 5mm, though I have none thus far.. All of these guys are in test tubes right now til they hit 'critical mass'. Side note: At what population should I start thinking about moving these girls from a test tube setup to a nest+outworld?

Colony A:

This one is one of my first colonies I for hold of in the new year. It has 2 queens and roughly 15 or so workers with a large bunch of brood. One of the queens is injured by the looks and has trouble walking. Looks like she lost a leg before I got them. I recently had an issue in their test tube as somehow it partially flooded or got too much condensation that pooled. several workers sadly drowned by the looks and the brood was semi-submerged for a time before I noticed. They seem to be recovering and back to being pretty active (they got pretty sluggish at the time of the flooding and I thought I was going to loose them all). No majors as of yet but in a month or two I'm expecting this colony to hit a population number that supports them.


Colony B:

This is a recent addition I got (I bought it as I missed nuptial flights in Australia) that I thought was a 2 queen colony. Seems it's a 3 and all queens seem to be laying now that they have settled down. Around 20ish workers and very active and fast. Can be a pain to feed them in the test tube at times because as soon as I unstopper it (cotton ball stopper), 5 rush to see what's going on. This has lead to 'fun' on the first feeding attempt. Now I know they do this I plan accordingly and cover the tube except for an inch or two and have a light shine on it, usually gives me enough time to unstopper, take out old food, stopper, wait 10 minutes, put food in. Testing with some crushed quinoa and bird seed, but they don't seem to be too interested yet. I'm going to attempt it again when majors start to show up to break them down.

 

Colony C...I guess?
This one is VERY interesting. Went to have a shower this morning and found a queen walking around my basin, almost go down the plug hole. I got it on my finger and then managed to 'entertain it' on my hand whilst I got a test tube to put her in. I had the window open so I guess she got in that way. I'm not too sure if anything will come of it but she is sitting in a tube set up with water and a little protein gel for now until she calms down. This one is totally unexpected thus I have no plans at all with her.

Feeding for Pheidole:
I'm currently just feeding them small amounts of raw honey, some protein gel which they seem to enjoy, cut up feeder roaches and mealworms (they like to burrow into them from the cracks I make in the carapace, kind of funny when removing old food to find 3 or so ants chilling inside the shell. They don't seem too keen on seeds just yet but seemed to enjoy crushed walnut/peanut from a 'trail mix' pack I had.


Banded Sugar Ant (Camponotus consobrinus):

 

Oh these guys...so much pain in my childhood. I used to torment the local nests with water, sticks and little trowels. They repaid me by biting the crap out of my ankles, hands and arms. Good times! Since then I've loved these not so little fellas. As the name states they love sugar and sugary foods. Queens are about 15-19mm, workers are 8mm, majors 12-17mm, though I have none just yet. Because they are so big they take up to 2 months from egg to hatch so the perfect compliment to the pheidole that are much more rapid due to their small size.

 

Colony A:

This colony is a simple one. A founding queen with a load of brood. Looks like there are about 10-14 eggs, larvae and pupae which I expect to have the first one to eclose in the next week or two by the looks. When I take the cover off to have a peek, she is hyper alert. I don't do this much and leave her to do her thing.

Colony B:

This poor colony was so good, then kind of crashed. At it's height it had 8 or so workers, then half of them died (2 of them the queen ate...go figure, even with food available). They seem to be recovering now with brood getting there but there is not much egg production and the pupae seem to be wrinkled, not sure if that's normal or just from something going wrong. Either way I feed them and they eat and have full gasters so none are hungry.Carbs and proteins get munched up, though with a small population it's not too much. For some reason this colony likes to cover their roaches with sand when I put them in and in the morning there is usually a noticeable amount of red sand in the feed dish, my other outworld colony doesn't do this and actually removes sand and dirt from the dish. It truly is strange.

 

Colony C:
This colony is going pretty well. Currently it has 8 or 9 workers, a small but healthy amount of brood and I've had to move them from a test tube setup to a more traditional setup as they where too cramped and hard to feed in the tube. They are nice and active and starting to settle into their outworld. I'm picking up a nest for them today as the founding one I had put aside for them will be too small I feel. These girls are just foraging and eating pretty much anything I put infront of them except grains, which is understandable. I wanted to try anyways just incase. Watching them get flung around by a pre-killed feeder roach is always funny and usually causes a swarm response from the others. I'm going to be doing some work in their outworld later today also as I have some plans as I don't want it to be purely functional, I want it to look decent too, though I'm not going the whole grout route, I may with the pheidole though, however I'm a tad worried about potential grout shrinkage causing spaces that the small Pheidole can squeeze into and nest in.

Feeding for Banded Sugar Ants:
These girls love any kind of sweet food. Honey, sugar water, fruits or anything else along those lines. Also they love feeder roaches, meal worms and protein gel (though only some types surprisingly). They don't seem to be overly interested in seeds and grains however.


So that's all for my intro. I'll be updating as more things happen and just go from there. Updates may be rapid fire or may die off and then pick up as works getting nuts and I'm now having to travel a bit more than I would like or expected. Don't worry though I have someone that's happy to feed the colonies whilst I'm away.

If any of you have questions, hints, tips or thoughts I'm all ears and always wanting to learn more.


  • Karma and PacificNorthWestern like this

#2 Offline Abadayos - Posted February 26 2019 - 8:33 PM

Abadayos

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

An update 20 days in the making....annnnd...not much has changed really with my colonies, for better or worse.

I had a minor SNAFU with one of my Pheidole colonies where the stopper cotton was not as secure as I would of liked and had a few manage to wiggle out but I managed to recapture a handful and get them back in. The issue was the cotton formed a 'crease' that the little buggers where small enough to exploit and that I couldn't see as white on white. Over the course of several hours they managed to push fibers aside and get out through that weakness. I found them around the tip of my tweezers that I had forgotten to clean (thankfully) so recapturing was easy with only 2 casualties (they are tiny and delicate after all).

 

One of my Banded Sugar Ant colonies had a minor die off, lost 2 for some reason, 2 more replaced them so it's a net neutral but I would of liked it to be +2 more. After all these gals take quite some time to develop. One of the colonies has got 5 pupae that look to be ready to pop in the next week or so which is good. They also have a nice clutch of eggs and 2 or so larvae.

The other Banded colony has got 1 pupae and a smaller clutch of eggs with no larvae. This was my first colony which I think I made the mistake of getting into a nest too soon and lost a few. They are looking stronger and better now so in the next month or so they should bounce right back and get to double digits which is a great thing.

The final Banded colony which previously just had the queen and some eggs now has got 3 niantic workers which are smaller than the other colonies workers (as expected). The first one I noticed on Sunday or so, the other two followed Monday or so and I have just put in their tube some baby cricket and some protein gel, they seem to be enjoying it as well as the queen/.. There looks to be 5 more ready to eclose, a bunch of larvae and a pretty decent clutch of eggs. This one is looking like the most promising. I'm not planning on messing this colony up like the others and intend to  leave them in the tube as long as possible before transferring to a tube and tub setup.

The Pheidole are all just keeping on, besides the minor break out they are doing fine, numbers are slowly going up but they all have very nice collections of eggs, larvae and pupae, even the bathroom caught one with the dinted gastor. I would say a total of over 30 combined brood, possibly up to 50 (they like to have them on the moist cotton and white on white is hard to make out, especially when they are SOOOO tiny). The bathroom queen has only got around 10 currently but she seems to get getting herself established. I may actually need to move her out of the tube she is in and into a bigger one in the very near future as it's only a very small (10cm long) tube so not much room once everything starts hatching. That's going to be a job for the weekend or so.

That's pretty much it for now boys and girls. More updates as they come though with these being so new not much will happen...or it will all go to hell in a few hours. I'm hoping for the first option!


  • PacificNorthWestern likes this

#3 Offline Abadayos - Posted May 7 2019 - 3:57 AM

Abadayos

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

So LOOONNG time between updates. Let's just say it's been pretty slow and steady with many flights, many hiccups and many joys and tribulations along the way. First things first: No colonies have died, all but 1 have actually been booming! So, let's get into it!

The camponotus consobrinus (Banded Sugar Ants) have all been going pretty well and growing at typical camponotus rates, with hiccups, except for one. Two of the colonies, once they became too much of a headache to feed in tubes, got given a outworld tub with sand and liquid feeders and that was that. They where placed near a heat cable andproceeded to grow in number. one is at 10 workers and the other is at 8 or 9. Both of these have got rather large brood piles with almost 20 pupae each and a load of larvae and eggs as well as VERY fat and well fed queen and select workers. The other camponotus consobrinus colony isn't going so well, it's struggling and it was my fault. This one was my first colony I believe and I did the new ant keeper mistake and as soon as I could, got them into a ytong nest with attached outworld. They didn't adapt too well and with only 6 workers, their growth was stunted. I lost 6+ workers this way due to the colony killing them as they eclosed or shortly after. I recently moved them into a tub and tube setup and they are starting to recover (though did just kill off a worker that eclosed yesterday, I don't understand why as they have food, water and sugars. Ah well). Their brood pile is 1/4 of the other 2's but it's getting up with much more eggs laid. Given time they should recover.

The Pheidole have been my pride and joy, both have been put into a tub and tube setup. Especially the 3 queen colony. First off though, the 1 queen colony. These girls are growing pretty well and have got a good sized brood pile in their tube and what looks like around 100-120 workers and 1 major with 3-4 more on the way by the looks. They are slowly growing in number and developing and I found them to be a different sp. to my 3 queen colony but not too sure which they are. In Australia we seem to just call them Pheidole sp. and leave it at that. No matter.

 

The 3 queen pheidole colony is going VERY well as I'm sure you could of guessed, 3 queens and all. Numbers are pushing 200, possibly even more with more than double that in brood. They are very active and always out in the OW hunting for food, pulling apart and digging into crickets/cockroaches and doing drink runs. These girls have got roughly defined tracks now to the water and sugar feeders and to where I roughly place the food items. There are only 2 majors currently, there would of been 3 but one of the hiccups was I didn't notice the sugar feeder had been blocked with sand that had hardened all over it so no sugars for about 5 days or so. I found the major walking to the rubbish pile and saw her just sit there and die, was pretty sad but what can you do? One month laterthe 2 new majors eclosed and are 1.5x the size of the first. There are about 8-10 more on the way by the looks, possibly even more, it's hard to see in the tube with bodies and normal brood piled up.

For both the Pheidole colonies I've been experimenting with grains and nuts and found they LOVE quinoa, lightly crushed/cracked in a pestle and mortar. I put them in and within 30 minutes both colonies had congo lines to their tube and each have a good stockpile of dry protein sources so that's a nice buffer incase insects run out. I also did an experiment with bloodworms and they seem to be...ok with them. I made the bloodworm soup ( http://www.formicult...bloodworm-soup/) and they kind of like it...kind of? Worst case, it's an emergency food that keeps for ages as it's freeze dried.

 

The 'bathroom queen' ended up being an iridomyrmex bicknelli and she is going ok, slowly but ok. Sitting in a tube only right now with about 15 workers with a decent brood. Going well and I expect her to have a large pop boom in about 2 months going by past experience. My other iridomyrmex bicknelli colony is going well with about 80-100 workers and such. Eating everything I give them except seeds/nuts and just a very easy (if boring) fire and forget species. Great for beginners but boring as hell if I'm to be perfectly honest. Would prefer another pheidole colony but no matter.

There have been many new additions but I won't bore you with the boring ones. I managed to catch and purchase about 30-35 pheidole queens and have several 2, 3, 4, 5 and an 8 queen set up to test some things out. Worst case they will be released as they mainly came from my front/back yard. I also managed to catch 4 Myrmecia Pyriformis queens, that's right...bullants. They are all fertile and have laid 15+ eggs right now and I am simply leaving them to do their thing. I don't expect to get workers from them till September-December (they have a habit of eating brood during our winter/when stressed) if I'm perfectly honest, but I would love to get at least 1 of these to workers before then. I originally didn't want Myrmecia as I have arachnophobia and these are big enough (30-33mm) to trigger it, even if they are not spiders but I'm starting to warm to them. Not too sure what I'm going to do with the if I'm perfectly honest. Most likely end up trading 3 of them for something rare I want/comes available locally.

Next post should have some pictures I hope, sortry for the wall of text and I understand most will never read it all but hey, this is as much for me as it is your you :P

Happy anting

 


  • ANTdrew and PacificNorthWestern like this

#4 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 7 2019 - 5:26 AM

ANTdrew

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 991 posts
  • LocationAlexandria, VA

I read it all. Congrats! These sound like really fun ants to raise. Keep up the good work.


"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25


#5 Offline Rstheant - Posted May 7 2019 - 7:12 AM

Rstheant

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 883 posts
  • LocationSan Jose, CA
For Myrmecia, give them some cricket pieces once in a week, and some honey, as they are semi-claustral. Leave them be, and heat them. Ask CCJ for more advice.

Edited by Rstheant, May 7 2019 - 7:13 AM.


#6 Offline Abadayos - Posted May 12 2019 - 3:35 PM

Abadayos

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

For Myrmecia, give them some cricket pieces once in a week, and some honey, as they are semi-claustral. Leave them be, and heat them. Ask CCJ for more advice.


Hey buddy. Yeah my myrmecia are put aside and left alone pretty much. Between the 4 queens there are 12-19 eggs each so just giving sugars right now (honey or sunburst) and twice a week a small cricket that they all drag into the tube, munch on and then dump. I didn't expect them to eat it right now but I guess more protein means more egg production which hopefully means at least 1 worker per queen by September. Once that starts to happen I can re-assess what to do with them because I really don't want 4 myrmecia pyriformis colonies. I don't have the space or anything like that for starters. May look into some trades once I get workers. Who knows.


As a colony update:

Five of my multi-queen Pheidole tubes have now got their first generation eclosing. Running around are about 10-15 total nanatic workers. I have given them some sunburst nectar soaked cotton (to prevent drowning deaths I had with the first Pheidole colonies) and they seem to like it. Some of the queens have also gone up and started sucking it up as well as 1 taking some brood to be on it. That's going to be a problem but I think a lamp should fix that when the time comes.

For the larger tub and tube Pheidole colonies I fed them a single dried dog biscuit last night and they seem to enjoy it. The single queen colony isn't as 'out there' as the 3 queen, but I think that's simply due to numbers. More numbers = more confidence hunting/gathering? Either way they seem to enjoy it so that's going to be an emergency food source to go with the blood worm soup should I be unable to get live insects for some reason.



#7 Offline Abadayos - Posted August 6 2019 - 6:32 PM

Abadayos

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Another several months break...another update! Boy...much has changed.

First I'll go over the basics of what's been developing in my little collection. I have managed to acquire several new species that I wanted over the past 2-3 months and they all seem to be finally bedding in and comfortable in their new environments. Here is a list of the colonies I have on the go currently:

- Pheidole sp.

- Camponotus Consobrinus
- Rhytidoponera Metallica

- Iridomyrmex Purpureus (Meat Ant)
- Iridomyrmex Bicknelli
- Polyrhachis Ammon
- Polyrhachis hookeri
- Myrmecia Pyriformis
- Myrmecia Nigriscapa

As well as several other species that are still founding. Yep, the collection has grown and I still have 2 more species I'm hunting for to round out my collection but I'm not too worried about that. Eventually they will come.

So updates, what's changed? What has happened in the past few months? Well for the most part, just steady growth of the colonies. Several of my pheidole colonies finally graduated from tubes to tub and tube setups just last month and are starting to get established with nice brood piles, their first majors to eclose in the next week or two (with several more already in development) as well 30+ workers. I find pheidole, being so small, greatly benefit from going to a tub and tube setup sooner rather than later mainly because feeding them in a tube usually results in escapees and hampers growth due to this. Having in a tub and tube means no escapees and the only die offs are usually from age rather than getting away and hiding, never to be caught again.

My Meat Ants have been in a weird situation. At one point they where having 1-3 eclose every day and growing in numbers nicely. Then they stopped and the queen stopped laying, even with food, water, sugars and heat. Righ now there are 3 small piles of eggs so it's looking like a restart in growth is going to happen in 6 weeks or so. Currently holding steady at 20ish workers.

The Consobrinus are going well. The 3 colonies I have of them are going through a strange stage. One is struggling with only 5 workers and a small brood pile, another is going well at around 20 workers and a pretty good brood pile and the last is just going gang busters with over 70 workers and enough brood to require 2 test tubes. All of these are caught at the same time and been kept in similar, but not exactly the same, environments. I guess one queen is just better than the others. They are one of my favorite species and they are nice and inquisitive when they have enough numbers present.

Both of my Polyrhachis are new additions I just got 2 weeks ago but both seem to be going well with new clutches of eggs recently laid and new pupae forming last week. They both look really pretty. Ammon has a golden sheen across their body and are quite striking and reasonably large, at around 8mm workers. The Hookeri are also rather pretty with a metallica green/blue sheen to them. They are smaller than the Ammon but still quite pretty. I'm looking forward to seeing both of these colonies grow from the 4 workers each that they have to a larger amount.

The R. Metallica are a slow growing colony for me as it seems I apparently neglected them when I first got them. I thought they where claustral for some reason (hint: they arn't!) so they had issues with lack of proteins and sugars. I have fixed this and they seem to be going well in a tub and tube setup having access to water, sugars and crickets every few days. I expect their growth to pick up in the next few months when the weather improves down here. I'm looking forward to getting more numbers with these girls as they are a beautiful metallic greeny/blue similar to the Hookeri, but more pronounced and striking. A similar species I want is the R. Aspera which has deep red legs that is a striking contrast to the blues/greens and purples of their carapace with the metallic sheen. They are rare and expensive so hoping to catch one or two during the season this year.

Both of the Myrmecia species are going well. The Nigriscapa is a new addition that I traded a Pyriformis queen for. A boring all black, slow growing species for a nice red, faster growing and interesting species? Yes please! Also I had 4 Pyriformis queens so it was a no brainer on that alone. My Nigriscapa has got a good number of eggs, last count a week or two back it was at 15 eggs. I try not to disturb her too much as they are very likely to eat their eggs when stressed or disturbed too much, even more so than the Pyriformis. I expect workers from her by January, February at the latest. The Pyriformis are all going well (all 3 of them!). One has recently got larvae spinning cocoons. So far only 3 have spun so far out of 12 or so larvae but I only expect another 1-2 to spin in the next few weeks as the others are much further behind in development. I have found Myrmecia have 'favorites' when it comes to larvae and feeding, thus you get some really big, well developed ones and others that look to be a month or so behind the others in development. It makes sense but it is an interesting survival technique. The other two queens have got 10-14 larvae I would say on varying levels of development. Some may be close to spinning but I'm not too sure. Hoping to get the first workers emerge around September time if all goes well and the queens don't kill the pupae or open them too early. It's just a waiting game right now. Something I find interesting is I've been told the first generation for Myrmecia is usually 1-2 workers. If this goes as it's looking, the first gen for these girls could be as much as 8-10. Not something I was expecting or really preparing for. I guess I have about 4-6 weeks to adjust my plans accordingly to accommodate the unexpected influx. Fun times!

Now finally for my favorite species, the Pheidole. Sadly my 3 queen colony lost one of it's queens several months ago, but that's not slowed it down. Currently ithe 6 month old colony is over 800 workers (maybe up to 1,000. It's really hard to tell with such small ants) with impressive brood piles and amount of majors. They are the only colony in a actual nest (An ant kit size 4 nest) and have got it filled about 3/4 when they are all in there. The thing is they like to chill in the tubing and in a water tube I have in the out world so they are spread. This isn't an issue as I'm just letting them do their thing. They eat pretty much anything I give them (feeders, chicken, salmon etc...all goes) and it's usually gone or swarmed by the next day. Whilst they are small, they have an amazing appetite. My other Pheidole colonies are chiugging along nicely. The younger colonies are just getting their first majors and getting numbers up and my 1 queen older colony is seeming to be holding at 200-250 workers with a good number of majors, maybe 8 or 9? They are very rarely deployed to break down food but when they are, not much is left of the feeder afterwards.

I know I promised photos but not this time, I should get some next time, my camera is pretty bad right now and I'm getting a new one hopefully next month with a nice macro lens. Until then,  have fun and take care

 


  • ANTdrew likes this

#8 Offline PacificNorthWestern - Posted August 6 2019 - 8:28 PM

PacificNorthWestern

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 144 posts

You ever thought about becoming an author?


:lol:


  • Acutus likes this

#9 Offline ANTdrew - Posted August 7 2019 - 2:45 AM

ANTdrew

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 991 posts
  • LocationAlexandria, VA
You are a skilled writer for sure. I’m deeply envious of your ant diversity.
  • Acutus and PacificNorthWestern like this

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25


#10 Offline Abadayos - Posted August 7 2019 - 5:23 PM

Abadayos

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

You are a skilled writer for sure. I’m deeply envious of your ant diversity.

Haha I can't tell if your being sarcastic or not. I just end up doing mind dumps and hope it reads well. Thank you though I guess?

Side note went out ant hunting lastnight and caught one, possibly two Pyriformis queens and am just watching them before I send off to a friend where they are harder to find



#11 Offline ANTdrew - Posted August 8 2019 - 2:55 AM

ANTdrew

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 991 posts
  • LocationAlexandria, VA
Sorry. Tone doesn’t come across in electronic communication, but I wasn’t being sarcastic. You have some cool ants!
  • Abadayos likes this

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users