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Vendayn's Arid-land subterranean termite journal (ended) (Argentine ants killed them)


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#1 Offline Vendayn - Posted February 9 2017 - 8:03 PM

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I wasn't planning on making a journal, but I found a cool termite species! They are Arid-land subterranean termites. They do not tend live in irrigated/wet areas, but do only come out after recent rains. They do however tend to be found in very dry areas (arid-land foothills of California, that still get rain but are otherwise dry in the Summer). They are definitely not Western subterranean termites. I have a colony of Western subterranean termites, but they are really boring so didn't want to make a journal of them. I don't plan to keep my colony of Western subterranean termites, as they literally don't do anything. The Arid-land species make mud tubes, and tend to be actually very active on the surface compared to the Western subterranean termites. When I had a colony some years ago, I always saw them on the surface (especially after I misted them with water) and making their mud tubes.

 

I got them in one of those wooden stake things that gardeners put out when gardening, and I'd say I probably have over 100 termites total (a lot of secondary reproductives as well). Not the most, but its a pretty good starting size for a colony. Typically, 1000+ is optimal, but I find success with 100+ with Arid-land subterranean termites, especially with a lot of secondary reproductives. Plus, I don't know how many is actually in the wood or not, but I don't think its that much as most of the wood doesn't seem eaten that much.

 

I put them in a medium sized (but very shallow) plastic storage container (no lid). I filled it with 100% peat moss, 3 inches worth. The peat moss holds moisture really well, and termites and ants both like to dig in it. Not sure if they can also eat the peat moss, but I find it the best substrate. It isn't really "mud", but it should be good for above ground tubes. Usually however, I mix sand with it (so it hydrates better), but it is fine with it just being peat moss. It will literally never dry out (at least for some months). But I mist my termites every day, so the peat moss drying out won't be a problem.

 

Should be a fun colony. :) The key factor will be if they live past two weeks (which will be about my next update), as even Arid-land subterranean termites, I find all my termites I have had, either die within two weeks or do really well and never have a problem (as long as I keep them hydrated). Literally, once they pass the two week mark...they are good to go forever. Granted, that is if you only get workers+secondary reproductives, if you get just alates then that is obviously different as you have to wait a long time for workers.


Edited by Vendayn, March 24 2017 - 1:41 PM.

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#2 Offline Vendayn - Posted February 9 2017 - 9:26 PM

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Another thing to note, that is interesting (at least to me).

 

Western subterranean termites are VERY sensitive to light (they hate it). They always run and hide any time I look at them.

 

I can shine my light on my new colony of Arid-land subterranean termites, and it doesn't even bother them at all. They just go on with their business. I remember my previous colony of this species, they were the same way.


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#3 Offline kellakk - Posted February 18 2017 - 12:26 PM

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What are "arid-land subterranean termites"? Is it another species of Reticulitermes, a different form of Reticulitermes hesperus, or something else?


Current Species:
Novomessor cockerelli (2), Brachymyrmex patagonicus (1)Veromessor pergandei (1?), Dorymyrmex bureni (1)


#4 Offline Loops117 - Posted February 18 2017 - 4:21 PM

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i am following this thread. I collected 6 colonies with roughly 25 secondary reproductives between them all the last couple of days 1 has 0, but those are all ant food regardless.
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#5 Offline Vendayn - Posted February 20 2017 - 11:35 PM

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What are "arid-land subterranean termites"? Is it another species of Reticulitermes, a different form of Reticulitermes hesperus, or something else?

They are Reticulitermes tibialis

 

http://www.termite.c...an-termite.html

 

and

 

http://www.orkin.com...anean-termites/

 

Outside of that, there isn't really much about them.

 

They go out into the deserts, and I think there is overlap with Desert subterranean termites

 

Heterotermes aureus

 

http://www.termite.c...an-termite.html

 

But those ones are only out in the desert. I guess that species can forage even in dry conditions, which makes them more unique. 

 

I know however Arid-land subterranean termites can also forage in dry conditions, so they both are a bit similar. One colony I had, literally was in a hot, very dry garage, without a hint of water for over SIX months (close to seven months)! I look in one day because I had totally forgotten about them, and they had populated like crazy. Even though there was no water at all for a very long time.

 

As a heads up, I also have found Formosan subterranean termites out by where my grandparents are retired in the Salton Sea (hour drive southeast of Palm Springs). Even though the area is a desert, there is A LOT of underground water (not deep at all, plus the area is sort of irrigated a bit). Still hot in the Summer. I think they survive just because the water level is really high, and they don't have to dig deep to get to moisture. Formosan subterranean termites are very unique, in their head shape AND I found one of their carton nests as well. Definitely no native termite, because the ones I found had that egg shaped style head. On top of that, they also have yellowish colored alates (which match exactly with Formosan subterranean termite alates), where as the native Subterranean termites have black alates. I've been wanting to get out there and get a colony, but its a very very long drive. Though I haven't been out there in some years, I'm positive they are still there. As I saw them for over five years (every Winter/early spring they are always out) and they always had tons of termites after all the rains. There were some native termites in the area, but it was almost all Formosan subterranean termites that I'd find. They'll be all over right now, with all the recent rains.

 

But, I'm not likely to be able to get a colony of them this year as its just too far to drive. They are there though, but quite out of the way to get to in the middle of nowhere way out on the border of Arizona. Not sure how Formosan subterranean termites ended up there of all places, in a desert (granted again, water level is REALLY high) AND survive. Imported somehow. But, as far as I know, Formosan termites are a tropical species. But that is what they are...the very obvious soldiers and yellow alates give it away. And no, they aren't Dampwood termites (as those tend to be big, much smaller colonies, and very rarely are subterranean, plus don't make carton nests (which the ones I got out there made carton nests when I had a colony some years ago) and Dampwood termite soldiers have square shaped heads, not egg shaped heads).

 

All I can think is someone vacationing there (people vacation there from all over the place) had an RV infested with Formosan subterranean termites and that is how they spread. People do go there to the area from the east coast and many other southern states. Either that, or wood was brought in from somewhere that was infested with them. I don't think it too likely, since there isn't really a need at that place to import a bunch of wood, but I guess its possible. Nearby the area is a HUGE pile of wood, and that was where most of the termites would come from. So, maybe the wood was brought in from somewhere that was infested with them. I'd still think it more likely they came from someone from a state infested with Formosan termites, that had their RV infested with those termites and they weren't aware of it. If that is the case (which is the most likely scenario), they probably spread them around all over the place before realizing they had them. Because people I've met have driven from Florida (their homestate) in their RV all the way to California (and some then go to Canada and then back down). So very possible someone's RV became a termite haven, and that is how the Formosan subterranean termites got there.

 

Which is actually sad if that is how they got imported, because RVs are rather expensive to be just eaten up by termites. And, sure is a terrible way to spread invasive termites all over the place


Edited by Vendayn, February 21 2017 - 12:03 AM.


#6 Offline SamKeepsAnts - Posted February 21 2017 - 7:16 AM

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i am following this thread. I collected 6 colonies with roughly 25 secondary reproductives between them all the last couple of days 1 has 0, but those are all ant food regardless.

Can i buy some? or are their laws on shipping termite reproductives.


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7 Founding Brachymyrmex Patagonicus queens


#7 Offline Martialis - Posted February 21 2017 - 7:27 AM

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The entire Isopotera order is classified a pest by APHIS.


Edited by Martialis, February 21 2017 - 7:27 AM.

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#8 Offline Vendayn - Posted March 24 2017 - 1:40 PM

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I looked in, and there was an Argentine ant colony (quite a large one) nesting in the tank. The termite tank was on the porch, but it was on a shelf up high. However, Argentine ants decided to live in every plant pot we have! A huge Argentine ant invasion. Luckily none went inside.  

 

The termites were of course all eaten up and dead.

 

Also, the Argentine ants are doing so good (now) because we killed the Solenopsis invicta colony outside our front door. So, now the Argentine ants have no predators at all and have free reign of the whole area. So, I guess they've been able to massively expand.


Edited by Vendayn, March 24 2017 - 1:41 PM.





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