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Dspdrew's Pogonomyrmex californicus Journal [60] (Discontinued)

pogonomyrmex californicus dspdrew journal

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#1 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 12:43 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

6-13-2013

 

On June 5th 2013 I found two Pogonomyrmex californicus alates wondering around just outside one of the nests I had been watching for the past week. I caught both of them and put them in regular test tube setups when I got home. Later that night, one of them tore its wings off, so I suspected it might be fertile. Two days later it laid three eggs. So far the other alate hasn't done anything yet. Later I added a little clay dirt to the tubes as suggested by multiple people on the forum.

 

On June 11th 2013 Pogonomyrmex californicus had a nuptial flight sometime in the morning. Later that day, I managed to catch eight queens from this flight. Here's a video of one I caught while she was in the middle of digging her founding chamber.

 

 

I decided to put two of these eight in test tubes, and six of them in jars as suggested by AntCzar on the forum. I'm keeping the test tubes in the dark, and I placed the jars under one of my plant lights which stays on for about 12 hours a day. For the first day, the queens in the jars ran around digging in random spots, and seemed to be unable to decide on one place to start digging their nests. Finally, today they all have nice little nests started, and one has even gone inside and closed her nest off already. As for the alate in the test tube that started laying eggs already, she is now up to 12 eggs, and seems to be the only one that's relaxed and not trying to dig her way through the cotton.

 

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#2 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 12:46 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-14-2013

 

I checked this morning and two more have sealed off their nests. I decided to try boosting a couple of these as a bit of an experiment to see how that goes. The second the queens saw the brood they snatched them up super fast and brought every one of them down into their nests. The first one took in 20 larvae, the second one took in 15 pupae, and the third took in 20 pupae, with some looking about a day or two from eclosing. It was kind of funny because once they got them all they would run all around looking everywhere for more. The first one sealed off her hole once she got them all. I also added a few pupae to about half of the queens in test tubes. I notice that the queens who have the pupae now are calmly sitting over their new brood and no longer biting and pulling at the cotton.



#3 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 12:49 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
Update 6-17-2013

Queens in the test tubes:
The very first queen I found, the one that actually just came wandering out of a mature nest with no wings (which I mentioned in another thread), has finally laid some eggs. This queen is also very small for a queen, I'm not sure why, or if that's a bad thing. She's only about the size of a large worker.

One of the two possible queens that were being dragged from a mature nest by workers (as shown in the video below) has the brood I boosted it with, but it looks like she's just made meals out of them. She still hasn't lost her wings either, so I'm thinking she's probably not fertile. The other of these two possible queens still has her 12 or so eggs, so it looks like shes good.



One of the queens I found just after the large mating flight has now laid some eggs too, and has them piled up right next to the brood I boosted her with. Maybe the boosting actually helped out with this one. Also, one of the pupae looks like its about a day from eclosing, so this should be interesting; I should be able to monitor everything being that she's in a test tube. The other queen from that same day hasn't done anything, and was the only one that still had its wings too, so I'm pretty sure this one isn't fertile either.

Queens in the jars:
They are all sealed into their new nests, and I can't see much of anything, so I don't know what's going on with them: hopefully good.


#4 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 12:51 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-18-2013

The possible winged queen that started eating the brood I gave her, has now laid some eggs, and has them in a pile right next to the only two pupae that she apparently DIDN'T eat. Maybe she's a fertile queen after all. The other one with wings still attached, has managed to dig itself a tiny little nest within the dirt inside the test tube, so I can't tell if it has laid any eggs too or not. So that means so far, four out of the five queens I have in test tubes have laid eggs.



#5 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 12:53 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-21-2013

All egg piles have grown. The one in the test tube with that one boost pupae that is close to eclosing looks like it's just a day or two away from having a worker. The winged one in the test tube that's dug itself a small tunnel still has no eggs.

The ones in the jars all seem to come out about once every day or two to work on their nests, and for some reason, the one with the 15 boost pupae has decided to dump one of them outside its nest and leave it.

That's it for now.



#6 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 12:54 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-23-2013

The queen that I boosted with the 20 pupae has two little workers now. When I first gave her all the brood, she immediately took them all in her nest and closed it up. A week had gone by and I never saw her back out again until last night. She was out working on her nest a bit while her two little workers were over getting drink of water. About 15 minutes later they all went back inside and closed the nest back up. I managed to get a picture of the workers while they were out.

IMAG1359.jpg

The one in the test tube that had a pupa close to eclosing has a worker now also.


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#7 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 12:56 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-25-2013

 

The one queen that was drug out of a nest, and shed its wings later--the one that laid eggs first, now has no eggs. I'm not sure where they went, but I don't see them anymore. One of the other queens in the test tubes now has two new workers that recently eclosed from the brood I boosted them with--one of them just hours ago. I got a little video of them helping her move her eggs around. I also saw that same queen laying eggs earlier, but didn't get any of it on video.

 

 

I watered the nests in the jars, and the water soaked down about an inch and a half; I figured that should help harden the dirt up a bit. I haven't seen any of those queens since the last time I saw the one out with its two workers getting a drink.



#8 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:05 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-29-2013

 

Queens in test tubes:

The same two queens with no eggs, still have no eggs. The one with the two new boost brood workers now has three, and like the others, her eggs have turned to larvae and are about 2mm in length already.

 

Queens in jars:

I didn't see any of these for about a week, but today saw most of them come out to work on their nests a bit. The two with the boost pupae have quite a few workers now, but I have no idea how many, because I see bits and pieces of pupae outside the nest; apparently some of them died. One colony was out working for a few hours today, so I managed to get some video of them. It looks like the queen was the only one working on the nest in this colony, while the workers foraged around collecting some of the seeds I dropped in their jar. In the other colony, I only saw workers coming out, and they were all working on the nest.

 



#9 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:07 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

This is not really an update, but something strange I observed in one of the brood boosted colonies. When I got home from work today I noticed one of the workers outside the nest just standing there about two inches from the hole. I checked about an hour and a half later, and she was still standing there in the same spot. Now it's six hours later, and the nest is all closed up for the night, and she is still standing in the same place looking around. Anybody have any idea what might be happening?

Edit: It's now been about 10 hours since I posted this, and that worker is still standing and slowly wondering around in the same spot. confused.gif



#10 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:07 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

So a few hours after I edited that last post, this worker started moving around a little farther, and then after a few more hours has now started acting perfectly normal again like the other workers. Very strange, that worker ant stood in one spot for almost 24 hours straight.



#11 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:10 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 7-19-2013

 

Queens in test tubes:

Nothing has changed much with these, except the larvae have all grown quite a bit, and are probably a week away from pupating. I have noticed that all the queens that were caught either being dragged out, or walking out of mature nests, don't seem to be fertile. Also, all of the queens that still have their wings don't seem to be fertile either. These all either eat their eggs, or the eggs they DO have, never seem to turn into larvae. This leaves me with only two fertile, growing colonies in the test tubes.

 

Queens in jars:

A while back I watered all of the jars down, and then realized that the water wasn't soaking in as fast as I thought it would, so I thought I may have possibly drowned a few of these queens. I kept track of which ones I saw come out of the nest, and eventually saw all but I think the one that was boosted with 20 larvae. That nest did have at least one worker out working from time to time, but after I noticed one more dead worker outside the nest, I haven't seen any workers since, so I'm afraid that might have been the last living ant of that colony. Sadly, one of the non-boosted queens died outside her nest, so I transferred the test tube colony with the three boost brood workers into that jar, leaving me now with only one good growing colony living in test tubes. They quickly moved into the existing nest, and immediately started customizing and cleaning it. The colonies that were boosted with pupae are all alive and well. I have even seen up to eight workers out working at one time. I do notice that the queens of those two colonies rarely come outside the nest now. This morning though, I found them all very busy drinking water and working on the nest, and noticed the queen was out getting a drink too. Shortly after, one of the workers picked her up and carried her back down into the nest. She came back out to get a drink again, and again was carried back into the nest by (I think) the same worker. This happened three times, and the last time I managed to get on video. In addition to that, she carried one other worker back into the nest too; pretty strange I thought. That's it for now, probably by the next update, these queens will have some of their own natural, biological nanitics. thumbup.gif

 

Here's the video of the worker carrying the queen back into the nest.

 



#12 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:21 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
Update 7-28-2013
 
Queens in test tubes:
At this point I don't think any of them have brood anymore. One of them had some developing brood, but i don't know what happened with that.

Queens in jars:
One of the queens that wasn't brood boosted has its own little nanitic now. I'm pretty sure there's only one, because I have never seen more than one at a time. Ever since it discovered the water tube, it's been outside the nest getting a drink quite a bit. I've noticed it has even started to try to actually help out with a little digging too. The colony I suspected died, most likely doesn't have any living ants left, as I haven't seen anything since I found the dead workers outside the nest. The other four colonies haven't changed much that I can see. One day I did find two dead workers outside the nest of one of the brood-boosted colonies, but I haven't seen anymore deaths other than that. They have all been eating mainly honey and crickets. Today I did try giving them some bluegrass and wildflower seeds, and one of the brood-boosted colonies took most of them into their nest; the others haven't touched theirs.

Here's some pictures of the new nanitic worker. This test tube it's sitting in is actually a very small one, measuring only about 10mm, so you can see how tiny this worker is.

IMGP0100.jpg

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#13 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:24 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 8-3-2013

 

I still have only seen the one nanitic so far. Also, all of the queens in the test tubes are still without any brood, and one of them died recently, leaving only three in the test tubes now.

 

I decided to rummage through this old drawer full of lenses I've horded over the years, and found a really small one that fits perfectly on my phone to create a nice little macro lens. Here's a little video I took with my new lens of the nanitic and the queen. You can really see how big of a size difference there is.

 



#14 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:27 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 9-8-2013

 

I no longer have any colonies living in test tubes. With that said, all my colonies seem to be doing good, but because of the jar setup, I can't really tell for sure who has nanitics and how many. If I remember right, I think I've seen nanitics in at least two of the jars, but the other three were boosted, so I suspect that because of the larger, older, more mature boost brood, if they have nanitics, they might not come out. I think everybody was right when they said P. californicus just don't do well in test tubes. It's so strange how other species of Pogonomyrmex do just fine in test tubes. The one test tube colony that was boosted and most likely fertile due to it having one or two larvae, I moved into one of the unoccupied jar nests. They quickly moved in and started customizing the nest. The rest, that I suspect weren't fertile, have all died. At this point I have five colonies of P. californicus left, all living in jar setups.

I went out to where I caught these queens and gathered up as many seeds as I could fit in my container. I sprinkled these all over the nests to let them forage around and find whatever seeds they like. I figured since these are the only seeds out where they are living, they should be able to find something they like.

Here's what I gathered.

IMAG1932.jpg

Sprinkled on the nest.

IMAG1933.jpg

BTW, the other day I saw a worker from one of the colonies carrying their queen back into the nest again. laugh.gif



#15 Offline Crystals - Posted September 25 2013 - 11:37 AM

Crystals

    Advanced Member

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  • LocationAthabasca, AB (Canada)

Drew, is that antcam link correct?  I can't get it to work.


"Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astound the rest." -- Samuel Clemens

 

List of Handy Links   (pinned in the General section)

My Colonies


#16 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 25 2013 - 1:13 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Drew, is that antcam link correct?  I can't get it to work.

 

Oh, yeah, I have had it off for a while because of how much it slows my desktop down. I am probably going to make a small server just to run the camera eventually. I will however be turning it back on today probably to monitor my Camponotus clarithorax colony. I gave them some brood from my C. essigi queen that died a while back, and one of those pupae is enormous now. It should be interesting to see what happens when it ecloses. I'm not even sure it's a worker, because it's barely smaller than its queen was. After this, I have an Acromyrmex versicolor founding nest I captured in a five gallon bucket that I plan to monitor.



#17 Offline Crystals - Posted September 25 2013 - 1:37 PM

Crystals

    Advanced Member

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When your colonies get larger the ant cam could be very interesting to someone who has never seen a large captive colony.

 

Every once in a while I open just to see what is happening.  So far, I have never seen an ant, but the colony was just starting out.


"Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astound the rest." -- Samuel Clemens

 

List of Handy Links   (pinned in the General section)

My Colonies


#18 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 25 2013 - 1:47 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Yeah, with all my tech abilities, I'm planning to one day have cameras on all my colonies with multiple angles, and not just ants, but my other critters as well.



#19 Offline Crystals - Posted September 25 2013 - 2:04 PM

Crystals

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On that day, make a thread with what the camera is looking at and the link to it.

That could be very interesting...

 

I am not that tech savy.  :lol:


"Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astound the rest." -- Samuel Clemens

 

List of Handy Links   (pinned in the General section)

My Colonies


#20 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 1 2013 - 6:20 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 9-30-2013

 

All five colonies seem to be doing okay, but also seem to be slowly shrinking. Just the other day I decided to wet down the nests again, and this time I used the flower pot saucer with a pin hole in the center to make sure nothing floods. It slowly drips water into the dirt, allowing it all to soak in without causing any flash floods through the tunnels.

 

IMAG2032.jpg

 

I did this at a very bad time though, because I've had a bit of a fruit fly infestation lately, and now I noticed a bunch of them laid eggs down inside the ants' nests. Hopefully this won't be a problem to the ants, but it is kind of gross and annoying. Ultimately the flies will all die as the dirt dries out again anyways. I'm beginning to wonder if keeping the nests completely dry, and only providing moisture in the water tube up at the top is keeping the colonies from growing very fast. Since my P. subnitidus colonies seem to do great in test tubes, I am planning to remove them from the dirt-filled bottles they are in and put them in test tubes like the rest. I might try it for these, but I'm not sure I want to because of how poorly the ones did that I had in test tubes before.







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