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Polyacanthus' Ant Journal

tapinoma sessile formica pallidefulva camponotus pennsylvanicus

23 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 12 2019 - 9:50 AM

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Hi everybody! I have my first working colony. I didn't chose them, they chose me.

I went into my fish room last week and found them incubating their larvae on one of my aquarium lights. Obviously they liked the heat and humidity so I turned the light off and opened the door to let the humidity out, and by the next morning they had moved the brood and just some workers remained. I have always been fascinated with ants and have collected workers at different times and have ordered harvester workers as a teenager for the classic ant farm before, but I've always wanted a sustainable colony with queen and thought instead of killing this colony I should collect them. So that's what I did.

Once they started to leave I realized how much I was enjoying watching them work so I turned the light back on and closed the door and started to look into collecting the colony. I posted the story and some pics on a Facebook group and someone suggested setting up a test tube for them to move into. I had some small water testing tubes laying around so I layed a couple down on the light fixture.

Having never found a queen before I didn't think I'd be able to lure it out of the main nest which I figured was outside. But after watching them for some time I noticed one larger than the others, could this be the queen?

I did some research of ants in my area, and found that I probably had Tapinoma sessile. They fit the description so well- small brown ants, like sweets, like to infest homes, many satellite nests, like to move often, like heat... And it looked right under the microscope to me. I learned they are polygynous so maybe I really did see a queen.

The morning after I put out the test tubes, one was full of ants and larvae. That made it easy to just pick up the tube containing a large portion of the ants I had seen and just put them in a container. After that I put out some more tubes and sugar water, doing whatever I could to lure as many out as I could. I realized the queens would hang around the piles of eggs and larvae so I kept watching and when I saw one I sucked it up with an aspirator I made.

After a couple days I figured I had any that were going to come out. I had lots of workers and brood, and 6 queens. Once I got all the remaining workers I could gather I put out some poison bait for any remainders. Sad, but we can't have loose ants infesting the house. I saved as many as I could!

Just wanted to get the journal started, I'll start posting some pics and other thoughts and experiences so far.


Edited by Polyacanthus, June 11 2019 - 5:46 PM.

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#2 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 12 2019 - 6:28 PM

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Here's where I found them.

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Here are the test tubes I put out that they really took to. Don't mind the white sand, I was trying to give them some options. They were not interested!
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One of the queens I collected in a GFS portion tub.
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They brought lots of eggs with them.

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Edited by Polyacanthus, May 17 2019 - 9:14 PM.


#3 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 12 2019 - 6:56 PM

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I don't have a digital microscope and I've never mounted a specimen before but here's a pic from my phone through the eyepiece of my old microscope! :D

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Edited by Polyacanthus, May 17 2019 - 9:10 PM.


#4 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 14 2019 - 8:50 AM

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I have a bunch of GFS portion containers I use for raising fish fry. I cut two holes in a lid for tubes to make an aspirator to suck them up. Each time I got a queen and any other workers or brood I replaced the aspirator lid with a fresh one and hooked that tub up to the others. I connected the tubs together with aquarium tubing pushed into holes I cut with an exacto knife. Over the past couple days they have consolidated into two tubs. I removed the empty tubs except one I left for foraging. I have a cotton ball with honey water in there, and I added a piece of cooked chicken which they shredded and carried back to their two inhabited tubs. Hopefully I'll have a better formicarium built soon so I can see them better!

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Edited by Polyacanthus, May 17 2019 - 9:09 PM.


#5 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 16 2019 - 6:55 PM

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I collected some materials and finally got around to building a permanent home. It is a take off of the classic ant farm because I love to watch them dig. It is 9 by 12 inches (23x30cm). It was about $60 for the acrylic but I have enough material for 8 of these. It is a little thicker than I'd like but that was the best material I could find for the edges. Hopefully they stay close to the clear side where I can see them! It has an entrance on each side and another hole on the bottom plugged with filter foam for adding water. I filled it with dirt from the yard.

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Once I hooked it up to the existing tubs they found it right away and started digging.

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I also connected a tub with sugar water on the far end hoping to entice them to move into the new habitat but no luck yet. They haven't even shown interest in the sugar water yet, they are just enjoying digging tunnels so far. I have a heater coming in the mail that I may have to employ to get them to move.

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By the morning they had tunnelled all the way to the bottom. Next time I'll have to pack the dirt in to give them more of a challenge!


Edited by Polyacanthus, May 17 2019 - 9:16 PM.


#6 Online Leo - Posted May 17 2019 - 1:07 AM

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This is pretty cool



#7 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 17 2019 - 9:07 PM

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This morning when I checked on them they had moved a queen and some eggs into the new setup. Tonight they're not there so either they moved back to the tubs or they burrowed on the other side of the dirt where I can't see them.

 

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Edited by Polyacanthus, May 17 2019 - 9:17 PM.


#8 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 19 2019 - 3:45 PM

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I've been consolidating the tubs as they move around. Last night after I disturbed them they were moving into the acrylic habitat.

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But this morning they had moved back to the tubs. They're sticking with the plastic tubs! This afternoon I was able to consolidate them to a single tub. They seem pretty healthy still, lots of brood and the queens are still laying eggs.

#9 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 20 2019 - 5:20 PM

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I'm concerned about the number of pupae I have but I haven't noticed any new light colored workers. There also seem to be a ton of eggs but no larvae. Did they just have spurts of activity or are they unhealthy? Would the pupae develop this far and then not eclose? They do seem to have developed though because I don't remember seeing many if any pupae when I collected them.

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#10 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 20 2019 - 5:40 PM

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What temperature are you keeping them at? Those pupae with eyes down below will eclose any day now if they’re warm enough.

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


#11 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 28 2019 - 8:47 AM

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I'm not sure on the exact temp but this tub was sitting on top of an aquarium hood. Maybe about 72F. But I finally got a reptile heater and stuck it to the back of the dirt habitat and by the next morning they had moved everything to the new habitat. It's a zoo med uth mini, and I stuck it to the middle of the back near the top to simulate warmth from the sun. It must be a little warm for them because they seem to be all around the edges of it.

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Edited by Polyacanthus, May 28 2019 - 8:57 AM.


#12 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted May 28 2019 - 6:21 PM

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They did a bit of digging and moved a bunch of dirt to the front. I'm assuming they were digging in the back near the heater but I couldn't see much. So before leaving for the weekend I moved the heater to the front hoping they'd move to where I could see them. After the weekend they had dug a sizeable chamber right above the heater. Unfortunately the acrylic is so muddy I can't see much. So I decided I'm going to start building a grout nest for them. I really like watching them dig but I want to see the queens and brood more. I guess that's why everyone uses premade formicariums but it was worth a shot.

Also, upon returning home I found all those pupae had eclosed into alates! They are all over now, and I have now seen some light colored newly eclosed workers and larvae, so that's good. As for the alates, do I need to let them out or will they just become workers if I leave them in there?

#13 Offline CatsnAnts - Posted May 28 2019 - 6:26 PM

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As for the alates, do I need to let them out or will they just become workers if I leave them in there?


If you want, you can set the outworld and nest outside, and when the conditions are right, the alates will take off. This is a lot of work, and I don’t recomend it for Tapinoma sessile because I have heard that they mate within the nest. You don’t need to do anything with the alates if you don’t want. The ants will probably kill them if they don’t want them, but they could still possibly mate within the nest. I’m curious to see what happens. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong).

Edited by CatsnAnts, May 29 2019 - 4:28 AM.

Yep, I got no colonies, takin a fresh start!

#14 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 29 2019 - 2:16 AM

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That explains why they were taking longer to eclose. Make sure your set up is extremely escape proof because they will fly indoors.

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


#15 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted June 1 2019 - 8:34 AM

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The alates are numerous and getting rambunctious. I'm considering letting them out. Suggestions?

 



#16 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted June 1 2019 - 3:58 PM

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Leave them there. Tapinoma sessile alates mate within the nest, and the queens fly out of the nest, or stay in the nest and grow the colony larger. I have had TONS of success in breeding Tapinoma. It's funny though, because the males will try to mate with the other males too. :lol:

#17 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted June 6 2019 - 6:41 PM

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I finally had a chance to make a proper outworld. It's polycarbonate glued together with aquarium sealant. Two holes for tubing on the side, two large holes on the top- one for ventilation and one for feeding access. I glued in a piece of stainless mesh from a dollar store strainer to the vent and covered the access hole with a square of glass cut from scrap. I filled the bottom with used aquarium sand. They like it so far.

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#18 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted June 8 2019 - 8:54 PM

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I've had these about a month now and still going strong. They seem to enjoy the outworld. I have put a few dead insects in there for them as well as a more permanent water supply tube. A few have found their way out through the wire mesh so I'm ordering a finer mesh online to replace it.

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They seem to be doing well, still tons of brood coming up.

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Finished the grout formicarium for them, turned out nicely. But they're like "meh." They prefer the tubing apparently.

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Edited by Polyacanthus, June 9 2019 - 6:01 PM.


#19 Offline Polyacanthus - Posted June 11 2019 - 6:10 PM

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I changed the title because I have more ants! A couple weeks ago I was checking out the gardens and observing the ants around my yard and on a whim picked up an old scrap of vinyl siding to find a nest of ants just hanging out soaking up the warmth from the sun. They weren't moving too much and I spotted what looked like a queen with them. I went inside to grab my aspirator and when I went back out a few minutes later and picked up the siding again I was surprised to see the queen still there, so I sucked her up along with a some workers. They are pretty skittish but the queen has been laying eggs so they must not be too stressed. I am going to work on building them a grout nest. I asked for help identifying them here and the best guess seems to be Formica pallidefulva group. The queen seems pretty small though.

 

Then, last week I happened to look out my back window and there was a huge queen walking around on the screen! I think she was looking for me... By the time I grabbed my aspirator she was roaming the sidewalk nearby looking for a place to settle down. Camponotus pennsylvanicus. I collected her in a plastic container while I thought of how to make a test tube setup without a test tube handy. So I grabbed an old worn out aquarium heater, removed the guts and cleaned out the tube, and viola! She seems to love it, she moved right in, tore off her wings, and started to lay eggs. I'm too excited to not check in on her, but she seems to be happy, she has 8 eggs already. I hear these progress pretty slowly so I'll have time to build a nice nest for them.

 

Tonight I was clearing the crap from the trees off the patio and what appeared from under the crap? Another pennsylvanicus queen! I was able to corner her as she tried to find cover after I destroyed her home. I have her in a small container for now until I get my tubes in the mail this week. So hopefully she's not too stressed out from the ordeal. It's amazing what you find when you are observant!


Edited by Polyacanthus, June 11 2019 - 6:10 PM.

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#20 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 11 2019 - 6:15 PM

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That’s awesome, man! Congrats on finding those queens; it’s so much fun watching the whole progression.

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






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