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Dspdrew's Pogonomyrmex subnitidus Journal [63] (Discontinued)

Pogonomyrmex subnitidus Dspdrew journal

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#1 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:31 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

6-17-2013

 

On June 17th 2013, I found seven Pogonomyrmex subnitidus queens wandering around in one corner of my brother's backyard. He said about a week and a half ago there were winged ants all over outside the nest, so I'm thinking that was most likely a mating flight.

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I took Lucian's advice from another thread and put six of them in cut-off two-liter bottles. I put about five inches of mostly clay, and some sand mixture in them, and packed them down good. I cut off some black socks I no longer wanted and slipped them over the bottoms of the bottles, just below the dirt; this will hopefully get the queens to dig their tunnels right up against the plastic, like pogoqueen noticed. I dropped a little honey/dirt mixture in the center of each for the queens to snack on, and placed them all under my full-spectrum, timered, plant light. I put the remaining queen in a standard test tube setup with a little dirt added. I will be giving one of these bottle setups to my boss/friend, Bigb since he has been wanting a pogo colony for some time now.

IMAG1161.jpg



#2 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:31 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-21-2013

It looks like covering the bottles with the socks does kind of help, because not only are some of them digging right against the side, but when they do, there is no dirt on the plastic at all--it's crystal clear. Four of the six in the bottles started digging their nests immediately, while two decided to wait. So far, one of those two still hasn't dug anything, and the other has dug a hole just big enough to stick its head in, and that seems to be how it spends a lot of its time: just sitting there with its head in the hole.

The one in the test tube has finally laid what looks like three eggs, but each egg is laying in a different spot; for some reason, she doesn't seem to want to pile them all up like they usually do.

That's it for now.



#3 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:34 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 6-29-2013

First of all, I came across the results of another mating flight, and managed to get seven more queens, who were all trying to dig their nests right in the middle of the trail. Now I can see why so many are unsuccessful in the wild, because there's no way these would have lived for more than a month with as much mountain bike traffic as that trail gets.

All the queens in bottles have been working on their nests a lot, and don't ever seem to be satisfied with them. I noticed they change the tunnels around, and the location of the entrance hole quite a bit, sometimes even adding a few of them.

Here's one of their nests with quite the mound starting to grow.

IMAG1364.jpg

The one that wouldn't dig more than a half inch deep hole finally decided to dig a mansion. The one I gave to my boss still hasn't even started to dig at all, so I'm not sure what its problem is. I gave him another one from the latest batch that I caught, and he decided to put it in the bottle, while putting the one that won't dig into a dirt test tube setup--probably a better place for her. The rest of the new queens I put in standard test tube setups without dirt, and so far most of them have already laid eggs.

The original queen in the test tube setup, who had her three eggs scattered all around, finally piled them up, and added quite a few more to the pile. The first eggs she laid I can see have now turned to larvae too.



#4 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:36 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 8-5-2013

 

Queens in test tubes:

So far, for the most part, all of these queens have been doing pretty well, and still have brood--some more developed than others. Today one of them even had its first nanitic eclose. There are a few others with pupae that should be eclosing any minute now too. Some of these have about six or seven pupae. Unfortunately one of these queens died a couple days ago, leaving me with six in the test tubes. I found that queen one morning and all of its brood covered in green mold.

 

IMGP0113.jpg

 

Queens in bottles:

These queens I have not seen much of in the past few weeks. Unfortunately I watched one of them die yesterday. It was out of its nest, constantly trying to climb out of the bottle for the last couple days, and yesterday morning I noticed one of its front legs no longer working. A few hours later, I noticed both of its front legs were no longer working, and its face would kind of drag across the ground when it walked. Shortly after that, it started to curl up a bit with its legs twitching. Today I found it dead. frown.gif There is good news too though, one of the queens that I declared dead seems to have risen. Well not really, but it suddenly came out of its nest after not showing its face for a month! I was really surprised to see it out walking around. A little later, I noticed a freshly eclosed nanitic walking around with it. I assume this maybe prompted her to come out and look for food. I've also seen nanitics walking around in another one of these bottles too for the last week, and I know there's at least two of them in that colony. That leaves me still with three queens in the bottles, four if you want to count the one I gave to my boss, which by the way seems to be doing well also. That's it for now. I'll leave you with a quick video of one of the queens and her brand new nanitic.

 



#5 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:40 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 8-8-2013

 

Unfortunately both of the queens I gave to Bigb died. sad.gif The one in the bottle looks like it had a small collapse and got buried. You can see it curled up against the side, in a small pocket under the soil with no tunnels or any way to escape. The one he was still keeping in the test tube just slowly died. I gave him another one of my test tube colonies, so now I am down to seven colonies total, four in test tubes, and three in bottles.

 

One of the bottle colonies has at least five nanitics right now, and for some strange reason the youngest ones have been spending all their time sitting outside in the water tube. Two of these also have some strange white cotton-like material hanging from the tip of their gasters. They constantly sit with their gasters curled under, biting at whatever it is. I also noticed three eggs suddenly appear in that test tube along with them. I know sometimes worker ants can lay trophic eggs, but it would seem strange for brand new nanitics to do that.

 

Here's video of the two nanitics with the white material hanging from their gasters.

 

 

 

Here's the video of them after the three eggs appeared.

 

 

 

My largest test tube colony.

 



#6 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 1:55 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 8-21-2013

 

All my colonies are doing very well, and I am seeing more and more nanitics all the time. I think my largest colony might actually be one of my test tube colonies, it's up to eight workers now, with a new one that looks like it just eclosed today.

 

Here's a little video of this colony.

 



#7 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 17 2013 - 2:00 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 9-8-2013

 

All colonies are doing great.  I finally tore apart the two bottles that had been absent of any activity for almost two months, and I found the queen dead in both. Now I have three colonies in bottles, and two of these have quite a few nanitics, but I don't know exactly how many. I have five colonies living in test tubes, and all of them are growing pretty fast. The one that was the largest now has 13 workers, and the one next to it has actually passed it up, having 14 workers as of today. The other three have quite a bit less than that, but are getting there. Also, both of the largest colonies now have a couple full sized workers too.

 

Here's my largest test tube colony as of today. Here you can see a few of the full sized workers, one of which just recently eclosed and is still very pale.

 

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This test tube was getting pretty dirty so I moved them into a new one today.The nanitics in one of the bottle colonies just LOVE to dig tunnels, and have dug the craziest structure of really small tunnels all right up against the plastic for some reason. The wierd thing is I don't know where they're putting all the dirt, because none of it is piled outside the nest.

 

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I mentioned this in my P. californicus journal, but I went out to where I caught those 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.Here's what I gathered.

 

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Sprinkled on the nest

 

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#8 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 5 2013 - 9:04 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 10-5-2013

Colonies in test tubes
All test tube colonies are still doing great with the exception of one that still only has just two larvae and one egg. As for the one doing the best, it now has about 28 workers. I didn't expect these to be doing as good as they are, so I didn't think I'd be taking care of so many Pogonomyrmex colonies for this long.
 
Here is the break down of how much brood each test tube colony has now.
 
Colony 1
28 Workers
10 Pupae
10 Larvae
>5 Eggs
 
Colony 2
18 Workers
3 Pupae
8 Larvae
>5 Eggs
 
Colony 3
10 Workers
3 Pupae
7 Larvae
>5 Eggs
 
Colony 4
4 Workers
1 Pupae
5 larvae
>5 Eggs
 
Colony 5
0 Workers
0 Pupae
2 Larvae
1 Eggs
 
Since it was getting to be way to hard to feed the two largest colonies with them in a test tube, I put those test tubes into containers to allow for a foraging area. I sprinkled seeds of all different types all around in there for them.
 
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Right away the workers started collecting every single Bluegrass seed in the container and put them in piles. One colony made two piles inside the test tube along with an additional pile just outside the tube.
 
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Colonies in bottles
As for the three colonies I still have in the bottles, it looks like they may actually be getting smaller. One colony has had quite a few dead nanitics laying outside their nest, and they all just seem to have less and less activity every day. Since this species seems to do so well in test tubes, I decided to try moving these three out of their current nests in the bottles, and into test tubes instead. To do this, I cut holes in the bottoms of the bottles where they had tunnels or chambers, and placed the whole bottle and the new test tube into a plastic box. I removed the water tube that was in the bottle just outside their nest, and I covered this new test tube up with aluminum foil to make it dark.
 
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Hopefully by the next update all the colonies will be in test tubes and doing much better.



#9 Offline Crystals - Posted October 6 2013 - 6:12 AM

Crystals

    Advanced Member

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  • LocationAthabasca, AB (Canada)

What container did you use for foraging?  Is that a butter dish?

Nice size.  Big enough for the test tube and foraging, but doesn't take up much space.


"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


#10 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 6 2013 - 7:01 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

What container did you use for foraging?  Is that a butter dish?

Nice size.  Big enough for the test tube and foraging, but doesn't take up much space.

 

Those are the containers I am designing my formicarium with, the ones I was telling you about. I get them from the Container store (http://www.containerstore.com) here in the States.They're about 85mm x 205mm, and they come heights of 50mm, 85mm, and 125mm. Also the sides don't taper much at all, and they stack very nicely.



#11 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 19 2013 - 3:48 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 10-19-2013

 

I now have no more colonies living in bottles of dirt. Two of them I have moved into test tubes, one with two nanitics, and the other with four. The third colony has died.

 

I now have seven colonies left, all living in test tubes. The two test tube colonies that were placed into a container are still doing great. They filled the entrance of the tubes with dirt and seeds until they were almost completely blocked off.

 

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They also stuck seeds and other debris all over the sides to block out the light.

 

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I can't see exactly how many workers these two colonies have now, but I know the number has gone up because I do see new nanitics all the time, and have only seen one dead worker outside one of the nests.



#12 Offline dspdrew - Posted November 11 2013 - 12:32 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 11-10-2013

 

The two colonies that have been placed in to the containers are still doing very well. I can see they both have a very large pile of eggs and small larvae,so they are definitely producing like crazy. I would estimate both colonies to have around 40 workers now. The best two colonies that were living in test tubes only, one with 12 workers, and one with 16, I have traded with jimbodw07 for two Myrmecocystus sp. colonies. At this point I now have five colonies total, only two that are doing well.



#13 Offline dspdrew - Posted November 17 2013 - 8:13 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 11-17-2013

 

Yesterday the queen with no workers or brood died. I also noticed one of the large colonies now has a very large, full sized pupa, the size of workers you see in a mature nest. I'll get pictures as soon as it ecloses. The test tubes of both large colonies in the containers are getting very dirty and the water is turning yellow, so I have placed new test tubes in there with tin foil covering them up. I'm hoping eventually I can get them to move into these fresh new test tubes, so I can take the old ones out.



#14 Offline Crystals - Posted November 18 2013 - 12:21 PM

Crystals

    Advanced Member

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I have hoped that numerous times.

For some reason, my colonies never move without encouragement...

 

After a week or so of waiting, I direct a small blast of air into the ocupied tube every day and they evetnually decide that the current location is too vulnerable and move.


"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


#15 Offline dspdrew - Posted November 18 2013 - 4:33 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

I have hoped that numerous times.

For some reason, my colonies never move without encouragement...

 

After a week or so of waiting, I direct a small blast of air into the ocupied tube every day and they evetnually decide that the current location is too vulnerable and move.

Yeah I usually end up forcing them at some point. A few times, what I did was bumped the tube every time I walked by it until they finally decided it was unsafe. I'm thinking of designing some sort of system that will be much more reliable.



#16 Offline dspdrew - Posted November 23 2013 - 12:02 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 11-23-2013

 

Yesterday one of the queens that hasn't been producing anything for a while died, leaving two little nanitics behind. :(



#17 Offline dspdrew - Posted December 11 2013 - 11:53 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 12-11-2013

 

Both large colonies are still growing. The very large, full-sized pupa finally eclosed, but it hardly ever comes out of the test tube, so I've only seen it a few times. One of the tubes is completely out of water now, so the cotton should be starting to dry up; hopefully this will get them to move into the new tube. The other new test tube had to be replaced because they just filled it up with debris and it started molding. The queen in the small colony still hasn't laid anymore eggs.

 

Here's some pictures of the containers with the new test tubes, and a video of the largest colony feeding on a freshly killed cricket. In the video you can see a few of the nearly full-sized workers. Neither of them are as large as the ones eclosing now, but they're still pretty big.

 

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#18 Offline dspdrew - Posted December 30 2013 - 9:10 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 12-30-2013

 

First of all, the queen with the one single worker still hasn't changed, that's all there is, just her and one worker--still no more eggs.

 

As for the other two colonies, they're still growing and doing well. Very early this morning, while it was still dark, both colonies finally decided to move into their new test tubes. I noticed throughout the day, that they actually moved the whole colony back and forth between test tubes a few times, before I finally removed the old ones so they wouldn't go back again. This is the first time in a long while that I've been able to see their entire colonies, brood and all, and the largest colony turned out to be much larger than I expected. They now have well over 80 workers and 70 brood, including a large pile of brand new eggs.

 

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You can see the large cluster of eggs being carried by one of the workers in this picture.

 

IMAG2571.jpg

 

 

Here's a little video I made of them moving the colony.

 



#19 Offline dspdrew - Posted January 3 2014 - 9:17 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

This colony decided to bury the entrance of their test tube, a lot like the way they cover over the entrance of their nests in the wild this time of year too. I didn't see a single ant outside the test tube this morning either.

 

IMGP0005.jpg



#20 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 1 2014 - 2:16 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 2-1-2014

 

Both large colonies are still doing just fine. In the nest that I can clearly see (the largest colony), there is definitely a steady production of brood going on still. As for the single workerless queen, she died today.







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