The colony originally belonged to MoonAnts who ordered a colony of Camponotus barbaricus and a colony of Messor barbarus from a shop - and ended up getting two of each. I had already decided that I would want a Camponotus colony soon, so one thing came to another.
The ants arrived in their tube at Nov 12 after a voyage of full five days with DHL - yes, it took them FIVE DAYS for a package delivery from northern Germany to southern Germany. Seriously. At least they delivered the package at Saturday morning (most other mail services do not deliver at weekends).
The colony was in good condition and got pretty active when unpacked, fortunately they cooled down quickly when placed in their emergency setup. I later discovered that one of the workers (the biggest one) had died, either during the voyage or just after their arrival. Since there was no way to remove it without completely disturbing the ants I just left it in the tube (they moved the carcass to cotton block at the front end of the tube while all living ants cuddled together at the wet cotton end).
Here they are in their tube.
So this was their first "emergency setup".
Since I didn't have the time to order anything more sophisticated I just took one of my freezer containers and drilled some holes in it - worked fine for the start.
The ants are under the red "paper tent", still in the test tube in which they arrived.
Here is their first meal, some sugar water (was taken quickly) and a raisin (was ignored entirely) in the plastic top of a pringles tube. They also discarded he dead worker during the second night.
I did not want to remove the cotton at the end of the tube for reasons of hydration and disturbance (don't think they would have liked to nest in a cabriolet) so I just pushed a drinking straw through it. This worked very well and I intend to continue doing this with all my eventual future colonies.
Everything went fine, they were about to be sent into hibernation and suddenly... a wild bunch of eggs appears!
Well... no hibernation then.
That means they're gonna need some protein. I already added some honey (which didn't seem to drain much interest) and caught some fruit flies, cooked them for a few seconds and added them as well. The fruit flies were taken instantly (three were eaten and discarded the rest stored in the tube at the dry cotton end), except the last one (which was ignored).
The local pet shop had superworms so I bought a box, fed them for about four days with paprika and apples, then boiled them and put them in the freezer. They probably gonna last me for a year, if not more.
The first one was directly fed to the ants (crushed plus a bit of water) and got massive attention - the worker sat there for hours and just filled up on superworm fluids.
Shortly after that the ants effectively canceled all foraging and I haven't seen them out for almost a week. Apparently they were full up to their antennae with tasty superworm soup.
So I ordered a massive setup at AntKit (enough for years to come)... and then the fire destroyed their director's home, their development labs and their entire product storage.
My setup won't arrive here for at least two months, probably three. I don't have any issues waiting and wish AntKit the best but that also forced me to act.
This primitive setup won't hold for three months - when all the new workers hatch I'm gonna be in trouble. Even worse the foraging worker doesn't seem to have any problems walking over the surfaces I sprayed with PTFE and is potentially small enough to squeeze through the ventilation holes. I needed a new box.
Fortunately the local hobby market has a broad variety of storage boxes and after some search I even found one that doesn't allow ants to just walk out between the bottom box and the lid.
This should be sufficient even for half a year if needed. I even added insect grid to the the air holes at the sides just to be sure in case they can really walk on the PTFE areas.
So... the colony just got relocated to the new container (still in the tube under the tent). Wow, they were not amused. When picked up the tube to take a look at them they became quite busy. When I replaced the drinking straw with a bigger one that is potentially large enough to let the queen pass, in case they want to relocate, they got REALLY busy - well, at least one of them.
Their reaction was quite interesting, these ants do not only have a clear distribution of tasks (one worker is the only one foraging, one worker is always carrying the brood around, not sure what the other two are doing) they also seem to have very distinctive personalities.
The foraging worker is clearly the most aggressive - she was the only one who instantly attacked the new straw. The other ants were more like "yeah yeah, don't freak out I'm coming already" or even "meh, I don't care", while she was like "OMG, OMG, Intruder, everyone attack it!". I just hope she didn't spray around any formic acid in the nest.
She even rushed out after I placed the tube in the new box and was looking really angry and ready to throw herself at everything.
Hopefully they will calm down now and do well in their new home. I don't think I'm going to be able to make any more pictures of the tube in the near future (I will add some better ones of the setup though) as I don't want to disturb them any more and that hyperaggressive worker will probably freak out again.
While I relocated them I also had a short clear view at their tube and wow - at first I though it was mold but then I realized that they've stored about four fruit flies and several superworm bits at the dry cotton end of the tube. They probably have enough food piled up to bring the larvae through their first two stages of development without having to forage.
These ants are some serious harvesters!
well all workers have roles. the oldest are your foragers,which is what I'm guessing the aggressive one is. and the youngest tend the young, the others do whatever is required. i will say a box that holds fishing lures (with alot of small compartments) can't be turned into a formicarium of sorts. wait until you see the colony do "democracy" its very amusing watching them try to decide to do something.
The four workers are all the same age, they're from the first batch (all nanitics).
Originally they were 5 but the largest one (that looked almost like a baby major with a bigger head than the other ones) died for some reason.
Here's a better pic of their setup. The yellow pebbles aren't grains/seeds but smaller rocks (just put them in in case they might need them for some reason).
And that's their warehouse full of dead fruit flies and stuff. They have literally used up all the space at the dry front end of the tube for food storage.
They are still carrying their eggs around which should hatch soon/any day now.
Edited by Serafine, March 10 2017 - 2:28 PM.