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Myrmidon's P. Imparis Journal (5.21.17 Update)

prenolepis imparis

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#1 Offline Myrmidon - Posted April 21 2017 - 10:15 AM

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Hi all!

 

Apologies ahead of time if it's not as thorough or as streamlined as other journals; this is my first attempt! I'm hoping to have a fun time documenting my first experience in ant keeping!

 

A little bit of catch up to this Journal entry:

 

4/13/17: Nuptials

We had a really beautiful warm day here in MA. I forgot the exact temp but it was definitely high 60s to low 70's. It was probably the warmest it had been to date for April. As such, P. Imparis or the "Winter Ant" were having their nuptial flights. I was able to capture 8 queen dealates in a matter of minutes in my backyard (which apparently has a several mature wild colonies). I caught them all together and had them in a pill container with a moistened cotton ball for a bit until I got my test tubes in the mail (probably around 2 days). They seemed to co-habitate very well during this time, which was a relief because I didn't want dead queens.

 

I did some research on the species and found some interesting material in regards to whether or not they were polygynous. In some instances (dependent on geography) it was found that they were. In other instances (generally more North) they were not. In light of this, I went ahead and conducted my own experiment in test tube placements to see how they would do. So, I put 2 queens together in 3 test tubes and then singled out the other 2 in their own respective tubes. They were placed in the typical setup and I had them in a drawer (to facilitate darkness), wrapped in a towel at room temp (which was around low 60's).

 

I would periodically check on them at least once a day. It didn't seem to disrupt them too much and I'm obviously super excited to see how they are fairing.

 

4/20/17: Egg laying begins

Queens had been doing well. No fighting or deaths for those that were placed together. Lots of grooming and just overall "laziness", which seemed to dictate they were comfortable. At this point it had been 7 days since the nuptial flight and the single queens had begun egg laying. The eggs are really small and hard to see against the cotton but when brought to the light it was clear they had egg piles and the queens would carry some in their mandibles. The dual queens still had no eggs from what I can see and at this point I was beginning to get worried that they wouldn't because maybe they did not want to be together? So I decided to give it another few days to maybe even another week. I know they are a slow growing species so I am not too worried at the moment but considerations in separating them is an option.

 

4/21/17: Dual queens lay eggs

Today upon checking up on them: the single queens were still attending to their eggs. Perhaps even produced a couple extra (but there isn't a TON of eggs, maybe a dozen at most). Still that has me in good spirits regardless! Also, great news, one of the dual queen tubes has shown that they were caring for newly laid eggs. There wasn't a lot of them, I'd say maybe just one or two at the moment, but just the shear fact that they had eggs in their mandibles is good enough for me. It also brings personal hope that perhaps I can join them all together at some point. It would certainly help achieve higher production in eggs and future brood and possibly even a greater chance of success for a healthy colony in captivity. I will keep an eye out on these gals and also keep looking to see if the other dual queens will also lay. The current consensus though is that the single queens are producing faster and have more eggs (at this stage).

 

I will also get pictures uploaded soon but I wanted to keep myself organized with the chronological turn of events first! So far so good :)


Edited by Myrmidon, May 21 2017 - 9:30 AM.

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Keeper of:

 

Prenolepis imparis (7 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (9 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus chromaiodes (2 queens, founding): Journal

Formica sp. (1 queen, founding): Journal


#2 Offline Nathant2131 - Posted April 21 2017 - 12:06 PM

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Good luck with these.

#3 Offline Myrmidon - Posted April 23 2017 - 7:40 AM

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4/23/17: 

Just did a quick check on the tubes. All queens are alive and doing pretty well, except for one of the queens. It will be hard to describe but I have photos now to upload so maybe it will make it better. Anyway, apparently one of her legs was hurt or lost during capture and I noticed it only recently. Interestingly enough though she produced the most eggs out of the bunch. She was originally a single test tube queen but because of her weakened state, and the risk of potential death, I took another co-founding queen form another tube and placed it in with the one that's hurt. They are settled in with each other and it looks like the 2nd queen is looking after the eggs as well. So that's a bonus. I really hope the other one doesn't die on us but we can only wait and see - if so, she gets some freebie eggs! Let's see if this was a good decision in the long run. 

 

Here's the the tube now with the 2nd queen: Maybe I'll name this DQ1 (Dual Queen tube 1)

FullSizeRender-2_zpsh90bygvg.jpg

 

The eggs are also a bit scattered, but that's also the reason why I thought something was wrong. Aren't they normally close together in nice piles?

 

Here's Dual Queen Tube 2 (DQ2): Again they also have a couple eggs with one a bit out in the open and others under one of the queens: 

FullSizeRender-4_zps3yq36tbe.jpg

 

Here's Dual Queen Tube 3 (DQ3)

 

Queens are pretty settled. There's only 2 eggs from what I can tell. It was completely hidden under the queen in the background (left) so I apologize in missing it!

FullSizeRender_zpsq7l6wadf.jpg

 

Now on to the single queen tubes! (SQ1 & SQ2, respectively):

 

This one is an original since capture (SQ1). She has about 2 - 3 eggs visible. I also notice that they can be super hidden in the cotton balls so who can really be sure. Haha.

FullSizeRender-1_zpsoja7t73f.jpg

 

Here's SQ2: This one was originally paired with the queen from DQ1. Together, they produced 2 eggs but once I had removed the other queen this one began laying on her own adding about 1 - 2 more eggs to the pile. She's way more protective of the eggs and is caring for them more diligently than any other queen to be honest (at least in the few minutes that I observe).

FullSizeRender-3_zpsc9bksoaf.jpg

 

 

Also I apologize for the terrible quality of photos. I'm only using a simple iPhone 6 Camera. I should probably get more serious with my photography equipment! I'll get better at the angles and lighting for sure until I get a better device. ;)

 

And for fun I took pictures of where I'm housing my tubes. It's in a regular clothing drawer and they are kept pretty snug in a brown towel (also to help facilitate dark environment). Everyone is maintained at room temperature and my house kind of runs cold so it's definitely not getting any hotter than 65 to be honest.

 

IMG_3228_zps2xsvbeqx.jpg

 

 

Also, on the day of nuptial flights (4.13.17) I took took a photo of the wild colony in my yard. This was the most productive entrance in a mossy area with absolutely no trees around. It is also relatively close to a rock. I was pretty psyched to see that they are very active and I caught all my queens within a few feet away of this area. Apparently there are several colonies out back so it was easy to experience it all; they were everywhere! So in the future, if anyone needs P. imparis queens in MA, I can probably easily get them for you. ;)

 

FullSizeRender-5_zpsld2ctbro.jpg

 

And that's about all. I think I'm going to leave them be for a few days and won't keep opening the drawer as much. This may probably get me a larger stash of eggs! If anything, I'll just keep checking DQ1's tube to see how the injured queen is doing. If she dies, I will need to get her out of the tube pretty quick to safeguard the brood and other queen.


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Keeper of:

 

Prenolepis imparis (7 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (9 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus chromaiodes (2 queens, founding): Journal

Formica sp. (1 queen, founding): Journal


#4 Offline Spamdy - Posted April 23 2017 - 2:58 PM

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Lucky, not many P. Imparis are here...


Queens:(11) Solenopsis Invitica(1) Camponotus Pennsylvanicus<p>(5)Tetramorium Caespitum

#5 Offline Myrmidon - Posted May 14 2017 - 9:14 AM

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Hey all!

 

5/14/17:

I did a quick check on the queens today after leaving them alone for a bit. They all seem to be doing well, even my injured queen from DQ1! And in honor of Mother's Day (Happy Mother's day!) I took the pictures on a pink cushion. Haha.

 

 

I'll start with Dual Queen 1's tube:

Apparently she is missing about 1/3 of one of her front leg so when she's not moving around a bunch and she's "upright", she usually hunches over and kind of settles on the floor of the tube. Otherwise, she really enjoys climbing up on the cotton and hanging from the ceiling upside-down. I'm really glad I moved her in with another queen because the injured queen continues to lay eggs but they are scattered and she doesn't keep them tidy or moves them very much. The second queen collects these eggs and places them neatly on her own eggs and she combines the piles. Their egg pile is impressive - and still looks like it's one of the most productive pairs. Pictures are below. The injured queen was hard to get a clear picture of because she is doing the hanging thing on the cotton:

 

Egg pile with healthy queen:

IMG_3271_zpslob5oynw.jpg

 

Tried to get a snap of the other queen but she was hanging upside down; only got her gaster.

IMG_3272_zpss6a0uqb1.jpg

 

DQ2: 

Lots of egg production. I can't really tell if there is larvae (and this is true for all the tubes, honestly) but I do notice translucent eggs and more opaque egg-types.

 

FullSizeRender-6_zpsdyxjmcd3.jpg

FullSizeRender-6_zpsdyxjmcd3.jpg

 

DQ3:

They are a happy couple:

 

IMG_3279_zpsn6ojxx9k.jpg

FullSizeRender-8_zpsso3shgtz.jpg

 

SQ1:

Here's the one that's been solo her entire captivity. Not a ton of eggs but still has more. It was hard to get a clear pic but they are under/behind her gaster:

 

IMG_3276_zps8xeoimks.jpg

 

SQ2:

Here's the more "protective" queen. She's constantly carrying eggs and guarding them. She has a lot of energy and personality; I'm kind of a fan of her demeanor. She's slowly becoming my favorite. I could be wrong but maybe there's larvae in this one?

 

FullSizeRender-7_zpsc1ufin9v.jpg

 

And that's about it for this update! Happy to see they are doing well. Will probably leave them be for another week before a follow-up. :)


Edited by Myrmidon, May 14 2017 - 9:38 AM.

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Keeper of:

 

Prenolepis imparis (7 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (9 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus chromaiodes (2 queens, founding): Journal

Formica sp. (1 queen, founding): Journal


#6 Offline Myrmidon - Posted May 19 2017 - 5:26 AM

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5/19/2017: First casualty & changes in test tubes

So, it looked like the injured queen from DQ1 didn't make it. She was thankfully at the dry/entrance cotton ball so it was easy for me to just take her out of my tube setup so as not to bother the remaining queen and the brood pile. The big brood is all sticking together like a round clump so there didn't seem to be any remaining scatterings in the tube. At least her eggs will contribute to the workforce of the other one.

 

Also because I did not have actual test tubes during the initial stages of founding (and not enough water, it seems) their water reservoirs are nearly empty. I went ahead and prepared new longer tubes with fresh water and taped it to the entrances of the older ones. I also punctured a couple small holes in the tape so as not to suffocate them. I didn't force a move but just put them back to their nesting drawer and hopefully the queens will discover the new areas for themselves and move their brood!


Edited by Myrmidon, May 19 2017 - 5:28 AM.

Keeper of:

 

Prenolepis imparis (7 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (9 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus chromaiodes (2 queens, founding): Journal

Formica sp. (1 queen, founding): Journal


#7 Offline Evanthomas89 - Posted May 19 2017 - 10:18 AM

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Very cool journal! Sorry for your first loss, I'm excited to see the outcome of the large brood left behind. I hope to collect or buy a  P. imparis queen or colony one day. Until then I'll live through you.  :whistle:


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#8 Offline Myrmidon - Posted May 19 2017 - 11:33 AM

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Very cool journal! Sorry for your first loss, I'm excited to see the outcome of the large brood left behind. I hope to collect or buy a  P. imparis queen or colony one day. Until then I'll live through you.  :whistle:

Awesome! This is my first species I'm trying to keep as a beginner ant-keeper so I am clearly making mistakes as I go along here; though this forum/community has been monumentally informative and helpful!!

 

Another perk to this species: I can run my air conditioner and keep these ants in the same room - makes observation and care so much more enjoyable and I'm not sweating bullets because it's 90 degrees outside. :P


  • Evanthomas89 likes this

Keeper of:

 

Prenolepis imparis (7 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (9 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus chromaiodes (2 queens, founding): Journal

Formica sp. (1 queen, founding): Journal


#9 Offline Cameron C. Thomas - Posted May 19 2017 - 11:54 AM

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Very cool journal! Sorry for your first loss, I'm excited to see the outcome of the large brood left behind. I hope to collect or buy a  P. imparis queen or colony one day. Until then I'll live through you.  :whistle:

Awesome! This is my first species I'm trying to keep as a beginner ant-keeper so I am clearly making mistakes as I go along here; though this forum/community has been monumentally informative and helpful!!

 

Another perk to this species: I can run my air conditioner and keep these ants in the same room - makes observation and care so much more enjoyable and I'm not sweating bullets because it's 90 degrees outside. :P

 

 

Pimparis was the first ant species I ever kept and well before I started doing it for work. In my experience, Pimparis colonies are robust to mistakes and are great for beginning hobbyists. My very first queen withstood probably half a dozen serious screw-ups before I accidentally crushed her during a manual move in the colony's third year. Needless to say, I was devastated.

 

This species is a bit slow growing but a pleasure to keep and develop. I look forward to keeping up with your journal. 


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#10 Offline Myrmidon - Posted May 19 2017 - 12:55 PM

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Pimparis was the first ant species I ever kept and well before I started doing it for work. In my experience, Pimparis colonies are robust to mistakes and are great for beginning hobbyists. My very first queen withstood probably half a dozen serious screw-ups before I accidentally crushed her during a manual move in the colony's third year. Needless to say, I was devastated.

 

This species is a bit slow growing but a pleasure to keep and develop. I look forward to keeping up with your journal. 

 

Aw man, I'd be pretty upset about that too, especially after all that work to get it to the third year mark! I'll welcome your advice and experience with these as I strive to get them to proper colony status!

 

But I'm curious - what happened to yours? Did you end up getting rid of them all or did you try introducing a new queen? 


  • Cameron C. Thomas likes this

Keeper of:

 

Prenolepis imparis (7 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (9 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus chromaiodes (2 queens, founding): Journal

Formica sp. (1 queen, founding): Journal


#11 Offline Cameron C. Thomas - Posted May 19 2017 - 1:58 PM

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Aw man, I'd be pretty upset about that too, especially after all that work to get it to the third year mark! I'll welcome your advice and experience with these as I strive to get them to proper colony status!
 
But I'm curious - what happened to yours? Did you end up getting rid of them all or did you try introducing a new queen?


It really wasn't all that much work, especially with a species like Pimparis. I put them in diapause for three months or so in the winter, and their activity slows to a crawl during the warmer months of the year, so they were really only actively growing for six months or less each year. With ant keeping, generally, you'll find that once you have everything set up and in place, maintenance is on the scale of minutes per week. Just set them up and check in periodically.

 

I don't really maintain colonies for pleasure anymore, though there are some species that would make me change my mind. All the colonies I work with currently are used for my research and maintained at the university at which I work. As for the fate of my first Pimparis colony, I pinned a number of workers [I do this with every colony in the event of taxonomic questions later on and initially for species verification] and euthanized the rest. The colony was only around 100 workers or so.


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#12 Offline Evanthomas89 - Posted May 20 2017 - 4:37 AM

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Very cool journal! Sorry for your first loss, I'm excited to see the outcome of the large brood left behind. I hope to collect or buy a  P. imparis queen or colony one day. Until then I'll live through you.  :whistle:

Awesome! This is my first species I'm trying to keep as a beginner ant-keeper so I am clearly making mistakes as I go along here; though this forum/community has been monumentally informative and helpful!!

 

Another perk to this species: I can run my air conditioner and keep these ants in the same room - makes observation and care so much more enjoyable and I'm not sweating bullets because it's 90 degrees outside. :P

 

 

I'm super excited to start a colony or two. I already have a room full of reptiles and tarantulas that has an ambient temperature that ranges between 74-80 depending on the time of day and what lights are on but I also use heat sources when needed. I have a dubia colony on a heating pad that's been doing really well. 


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#13 Offline Myrmidon - Posted May 21 2017 - 9:26 AM

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Entry 5/21/17: Moving into the new tubes, or maybe not.

 

Just a quick update. Most of the queens and brood are still in the old/drying out tubes. I even have them out a bit to see if light might motivate them but they haven't budged. Queens from DQ2 especially gave me a look like "Nope, we're good." Also that's a lot of eggs...

 

Pimparis_zpsgvlt72pu.jpeg

 

However, my favorite loner from SQ2 immediately picked up her brood and gladly moved in within 5 minutes. She's always on the move!

 

SQ2new_zpsnbfooegw.jpeg


  • Evanthomas89 likes this

Keeper of:

 

Prenolepis imparis (7 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus pennsylvanicus (9 queens, founding): Journal

Camponotus chromaiodes (2 queens, founding): Journal

Formica sp. (1 queen, founding): Journal






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