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.