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Hikari's ant journal

camponotus formica lasius tetramorium camponotus pennsylvanicus

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#1 Offline Hikari - Posted May 22 2017 - 8:21 PM

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This my first time attempting to raise an ant colony. I'm going to record my newbie adventures in ant-keeping here. Seeing as I'm still learning, if you see me doing something questionable/wrong, please feel free to gently put me on track. I want to take care of my ants to the best of my ability, and though I've been doing research, I know there's still a LOT to learn. I just recently started getting interested in the hobby.

 

- (5/18/17) So, around 1am (I'm a night owl) when I went outside to retrieve a bucket, I stumbled across this queen on my porch:
 

3bS23FC.jpg

 

A bit of fumbling around later, and I got her into a decent test tube set-up. To say I was unprepared for a queen to literally appear at my doorstep was an understatement, lol. Got her a decent-sized test tube the next day and put her in a drawer. She settled in pretty quickly.

 

- (5/21/17) I changed her set-up to this:

izZc0i3.jpg

 

Her test tube is now nestled on the bottom shelf of my snake tank stand, in a plastic container filled with cotton balls to keep it both stable and insulated. The far side of it is cut out to allow the end of the test tube to poke out for fresh air, and the thermometer probe rests beside it. The red lid keeps the tube dim while allowing me to peek inside when I feel like it. Half of it is resting on the edge of a heating pad, and keeps the tube between 77-80°F. I'll probably get a heating cable at some point, but for now, this works. There's room to fit more test tubes if needed.

 

- (5/22/17) I noticed she was moving around a lot more than usual, and inspected the tube through the lid with my cell phone light. Lo and behold, she finally laid eggs! I guess she's enjoying her new, warmer set-up? Took her out for a quick photo-op before putting her back.

 

JKTlQkL.jpg

 

ap8NXax.jpg

Such a good mama, trying to protect them from the big, bad light and camera. At this point now, it's mostly going to just be waiting, and just keeping an eye on the temps. In the meantime though, her current set-up seems to be fine and I'll leave her be to do her thing. Hopefully all will go well and by this time next month, she'll have some larvae.

In the meantime, I do plan on hunting for more queens, just in case. Plus, it'll give me something to do.


Edited by Hikari, September 12 2017 - 10:21 PM.

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#2 Offline Myrmidon - Posted May 23 2017 - 6:17 AM

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Nice shots! She looks like she's in good hands. Best of luck with her and congrats on the eggs. :)


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

Tetramorium sp. e (2 queens, founding): Journal


#3 Offline Hikari - Posted May 24 2017 - 8:05 PM

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- (5/24/17) My first ant queen is up to 8 eggs! I have decided to name her "Maya" (there's a reference there, but it's obscure. Just know I am a dork).

 

CMlWjms.jpg

Also, my brother caught an ant in the bathroom, and brought it to me. Turns out it was another queen (He was like, "wait, really?!", lol). Another C. Pennsylvanicus too. That brings the count up to two. My only concern is she has a dent in her gaster. I don't know how that will affect her long-term health, but she was definitely feisty getting her into her test tube set-up. I have decided to name her "Onyxia" after the dragon raid boss from World of Warcraft.

 

uPBGojM.jpg

 

X2Yw8aC.jpg

 

OR1J7C3.jpg

 

Anyways, both test tubes are now snuggled in the cotton-ball filled container and being kept nice and toasty, and it looks like Onyxia has settled down and stopped trying to mangle her cotton ball. (I take it back. I checked on her again and she was back at it with vigor. Such a hatred of cotton balls in such a tiny body. Maybe by tomorrow morning she'll have given up).


Edited by Hikari, May 24 2017 - 10:26 PM.

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#4 Offline Nathant2131 - Posted May 25 2017 - 2:37 AM

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That's too funny, one of my (now dead) C. Pennsylvanicus queens had a dent JUST like that! Same spot and everything!




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#5 Offline Hikari - Posted May 25 2017 - 11:21 AM

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Oh no! Poor queen :( Yeah, I've been doing some research, and found that a dent in the gaster doesn't bode well for a queen. Still, doesn't hurt to try. I've heard you can give brood from one queen to another of the same species, so I'm thinking if she lays eggs but then doesn't make it, I can give them to my first queen (who is being such a good mom right now).


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#6 Offline Hikari - Posted May 25 2017 - 6:41 PM

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- (5-25-17) Maya has laid one or two more eggs. They're all in a pile so it's getting hard to count. Brings her up to 10 or so. Onyxia has finally settled and laid one egg already! I tried to get a pic, but she grabbed it in her mandibles and refused to let me get a good shot, lol. Just glad to see that her gaster injury doesn't appear to inhibit her egg-laying capabilities. I'll continue to monitor her.

On a side note, my founding formicarium from Tar Heel Ants shipped! I plan on moving Maya into it once it arrives. Although, with all the eggs she's laid, and the potential worker count, she might outgrow it before hibernation. Either way, I'm saving up for a Camponotus Hybrid nest from AntsCanada. I like the way the Tar Heels Ants starting formicarium look, but I like the way AntsCanada's bigger formicarium look and work. I'd make my own, but honestly, I don't trust myself to do it right. I'll probably take a crack at making my own outworld instead (which I think I'd have the most fun with anyways).



#7 Offline Hikari - Posted May 27 2017 - 8:41 PM

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- (5-27-17) Maya is doing well. No new eggs that I can see, granted, she is almost always on top of the pile guarding them at this point. Onyxia is up to six eggs! She seems to be doing well so far despite her gaster dent.
 
My Tar Heel Ants "Atom C" founding formicarium arrived today too. I was excited, but noticed it had a bit of an odor to it, like paint or something. Erring on the side of caution, I've been letting it air out under my fan (since I have no idea what the things are made out of). I plan on letting Maya move into it once it no longer worries me. Not a huge deal, since I'm patient. Onyxia will have to remain in a test tube set-up for the time being though, since I wasn't expecting to acquire a second queen. She doesn't seem to mind though, and I'd like to make sure she'll even survive in the longer term first before getting anything fancier. Might just do the thing where I put her tube in a critter carrier outworld if she manages to get to the worker stage.

Edited by Hikari, May 27 2017 - 8:50 PM.


#8 Offline Hikari - Posted May 30 2017 - 9:14 PM

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- (5-30-17) I moved Maya and her eggs into the Atom C formicarium from THA. To do so, I first had to lure her out of her tube. Soon as I unblocked the cotton and suck in a piece of tubing, she grabbed all her eggs and moved them to the other side (making my job to retrieve them later slightly harder). Curiosity got her to crawl into the tube however, and I blocked off both sides with cotton. She wasn't happy, and was tearing the crap out of it the entire time. I carefully moved her eggs into the formicarium according to the YouTube instructions, and then placed her inside via the tubing. She franticlly ran circles around it for a bit, then realized her eggs were there and settled a bit. Seems like she's completely settled in now, moving her eggs to a new spot, and has been brooding directly over them ever since. She gave me a scare earlier cause she looked crumpled, and here she'd literally wrapped herself around her eggs. When I took the red cover off for a better look, she looked up, and had the clump of eggs in her mandibles. She's not letting her guard down this time. :lol:
 
Meanwhile, Onyxia's just chillin' in her tube, blissfully unaware of the chaos. She's still doing well. She's up to 9 eggs.
 
I'll have to take some new pics at some point.


#9 Offline Kevin - Posted June 2 2017 - 2:55 AM

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I bought I THA formicaria a long time ago, and noticed the outworld had an uncured scent to it, which was killing my colony inside. I enlarged the vent and haven't had a problem since, but overall I probably will stick to making my own nests.
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Still developing formicaria, we shall see what I create.


#10 Offline Hikari - Posted June 4 2017 - 6:53 PM

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I bought I THA formicaria a long time ago, and noticed the outworld had an uncured scent to it, which was killing my colony inside. I enlarged the vent and haven't had a problem since, but overall I probably will stick to making my own nests.

 

Wow, that sucks. Yeah, I emailed THA about the smell when the items first arrived and it took days to get a reply, and all they basically said was 'Some people notice a smell and some don't, you're probably just sensitive to it, it's safe for ants', and left it at that. Needless to say, I'll be looking into AntsCanada or Antopia in the future when I need an upgrade (by then, maybe they'll have new goodies), since there's less to worry about with plastics and acrylics. With my other queen, I'll just use the "tube in a critter carrier" method. Luckily by the time I need to use the small outworld with my THA starter formicarium, it'll have been here a while and be completely aired out. Luckily, no issues with the formicarium yet (even if the outside STILL smells like paint x.x). I'm just not impressed enough to order another.

(Also, sorry it took a while to respond. I was on vacation this weekend)



#11 Offline Hikari - Posted June 5 2017 - 8:10 PM

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- (6/5/27) I took some new pictures of Maya and Onyxia.

Here's Maya in her THA Atom C formicarium. I used the stopper intended for the main chamber to make a waterer with cotton out of tubing. I know this thing has a water chamber under it for humidity, but I was concerned about the lack of drinking water:

vswS5q3.jpg

 

And here's Onyxia, still being kinda bad at keeping all her eggs in a nice pile. At least they're all in the same general area:

 

qJkOKVw.jpg

 

Now where things got crazy. I was taking out the dirt from all the flower pots from last year that I left overwinter on the porch because I was hoping my spearmint would regrow. It did not, and weeds were sprouting instead, so it was time to start over. I moved a large pot and found this Camponotus queen underneath, with eggs. She had chewed out a shallow founding chamber in my porch, with the pot as the roof! I immediately put the pot back down and went in to grab a test tube set-up. When I picked up the pot again, she BOLTED. Ran through a crack in the porch, so I chased her under and after a bit of a struggle, I managed to corral her into the tube (got mud all over my pants though. Worth it). I then carefully scooped up as many eggs as I could and put them in with her. I lost a couple to the cracks in the porch, but got the bulk of them. Good thing I captured her too, since we don't need any ants chewing up our porch.

 

XQxqJkq.jpg

 

She was not a happy camper.

 

EN1daaU.jpg

 

Found an egg

FKnGP11.jpg

 

She moved the eggs together before deciding to ravage the cotton ball for a few hours (which got so bad I eventually had to replace it), then she finally settled down.

 

So, I was all happy to find a new queen, and then it hit me that I should be keeping capture containers while I worked on the pots. It was a good call.

I tipped over a small flower pot in the plastic bag I was dumping the soil into, cracked open a bit of packed dirt at the bottom, and THIS girl popped out! I was like "HOLY S***! What's a Camponotus doing in the dirt?!". Now granted, I know some DO like dirt, but I'm pretty sure she's another C. Pennsylvanicus, and they're supposed to like wood. My only guess is she found her way into the holes at the bottom of the pot and up into the dirt itself and was like 'Eh, good enough' or something...talk about lazy, lol.
 

5fbRWuH.jpg

 

She's so cute in this pic, OMG.

 

QPDdywT.jpg

 

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She was really into cleaning herself off once I got her out of the dirty capture container (aka, old pill bottle), and into a clean test tube.

 

YZJsbcT.jpg

 

She's been wandering around her tube a lot tonight, but hasn't been pulling at the cotton. Guess she just needs to get comfy in glass instead of dirt.

 

And of course, I was super thrilled. Two more C. Pennsylvanicus queens, bringing my total up to four, and one already has eggs. Of course, there was one more surprise. I found a smaller lone ant while digging in another pot, and it looked like a queen, so into a test tube she went! She was so small though, I had to move her into one of my tiny tubes, lol. I'm not quite sure what kind she is, so I put an ID thread here: (Link).

I'll update again once I know what she is. Her species will be a big determining factor on if I keep her or not.

 

Oh, there was one other thing. The last pot had a WHOLE FREAKING COLONY...but yeah, I am totally not ready for anything like that, and who knows where the queen even was, so I just dumped that particular pot of dirt out towards our tree line. I hope they do okay out there. I probably should have just stuck the pot out there, in hindsight, but I kind of wanted it back. They were most likely Pavement ants anyways though, which are freaking everywhere as it is, so I don't feel AS bad (and we have ants everywhere in our yard as it is). I'm sure as tenacious as ants are, they'll probably have a whole new ant hill started where I dumped it soon enough anyways, or have found a new home.

 

At this point, I have my hands full, so I don't know how many more queens I plan on catching, even if I do find more. I don't want to overwhelm myself on my first year. I think four C. Pennsylvanicus should be enough to make sure I have at least one colony survive hibernation.
 

Anyways, it was a very eventful day on the ant front. I'm glad I was given links for test tubes, cause I need to invest in more now, lol.


Edited by Hikari, June 5 2017 - 8:16 PM.


#12 Offline antking117 - Posted June 5 2017 - 8:24 PM

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Very cool! Wish i had your luck, i found a queen and bolted for a test tube and got back and it was gone!



#13 Offline Hikari - Posted June 5 2017 - 8:42 PM

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Very cool! Wish i had your luck, i found a queen and bolted for a test tube and got back and it was gone!

 

I think the only reason she didn't bolt at first was because of how fast I put the pot down, and the fact that she had eggs. It took a second invasion to prompt her to abandon ship and nope on out of there. I'm normally not this lucky, lol. I think it was just because my neglected pots made for prime ant real estate. If I don't leave them out again this year, I most likely won't find as many ants next year. This is actually the second time I've found an entire colony. It happened last year too. They just REALLY seem to like that particular pot.



#14 Offline Hikari - Posted June 6 2017 - 9:15 PM

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Quick update: Queen #5 was ID'd to be Lasius Umbratus (thanks Batspiderfish!). She's a social parasite type, which will present a rather interesting challenge, which I plan to accept. A host species for me to steal workers from has also already been found. Ironically, from the flowerpot colony I dumped out...ooops. Still, they're rebuilding and still around, so I'll go kidnap some workers tomorrow. At least this will give me something to do while my Camponotus take their sweet time doing their thing, lol.


Edited by Hikari, June 6 2017 - 9:27 PM.


#15 Offline CozmoDog - Posted June 7 2017 - 2:32 AM

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Introducing the workers will be hard make sure to put them in hibernation mode by lowering their temperature and put the workers in slowly.

Edit: I'm not familiar with this species but maybe trying to get some brood from the host colony might be safer too if she accepts.

Edited by CozmoDog, June 7 2017 - 2:34 AM.


#16 Offline Hikari - Posted June 7 2017 - 12:33 PM

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Collected some workers for Queen 5 today. When I went to inspect the dirt pile, it seems there weren't many ants left. I guess a lot of them moved on. I took as many that had stayed behind in the dirt pile as I could find.

 

I introduced some of the workers to the queen, one by one. They immediately ran away from each other. They've been slowly checking each other out since, and there hasn't been any sign of them wanting to fight. Gonna just leave them together and see what happens. There appears to be one dead worker, but I think I did that accidentally while trying to get them into the queen's tube (dealing with such tiny ants is tricky!). Oh well, at the very least it gives her a target to steal scent from that won't run away. At this point, the queen is currently just hanging out on the damp cotton, and the workers are on the opposite end of the tube on the stopper cotton. But yeah, worker introduction went off easy enough...too easy actually. That in and of itself almost worries me. Either that, or with the colony in shambles, the kidnapped workers are just not sure what to do anymore and are less aggressive by default. So far there's around a dozen or so in with the queen, and probably about the same amount still in the tiny outworld I'm storing them in. Tonight I plan on working to make a bigger outworld to eventually connect everything.

 

Oh, should have mentioned that the host colony ants appear to be L. Neoniger. It was the best I could do.

 

Meanwhile, not much to report on the Camponotus. Queen 3 was pulling at her cotton again. Most of the time she's been pretty chill though. No eggs form Queen 4 yet. I need to think of nicknames.


Edited by Hikari, June 7 2017 - 12:49 PM.


#17 Offline Ants4fun - Posted June 7 2017 - 3:36 PM

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Your on the right track! I generally find that the egg stage is one of the longest period of development for this species.

#18 Offline Hikari - Posted June 7 2017 - 5:33 PM

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Your on the right track! I generally find that the egg stage is one of the longest period of development for this species.

 

Hopefully. If they decide to get along. I took a nap, and when I got up to check on them, I saw they'd decided to bum rush the queen, and one worker had grabbed her antennae and was pulling on it, so I put them back into time-out (aka, the fridge). When I took them out, the one went RIGHT back a pulling her antennae. x.x Before I could slip in a toothpick to break it up, the worker let go, and the queen was just like "whatever". Surprisingly, despite the bit of chaos, there have been no deaths. While the bulk of the workers are still steering clear, one has been sitting quite peacefully on the wet cotton near the queen, and I saw another walk up her her and look like it was getting groomed before walking off, so I really do hope they manage to adopt each other okay.


Edited by Hikari, June 7 2017 - 5:35 PM.


#19 Offline Hikari - Posted June 8 2017 - 9:03 PM

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So, a sad update. Most of the workers I left with my L. umbratus queen have died, or are dying. Only one worker is actually capable of normal function. To make matters worse, even the queen is stumbling around. I'm not sure what exactly happened. Maybe chilling them all in the fridge for a bit took a bigger toll on them than I thought, or maybe too much stress from the whole ordeal and it finally caught up with them, or maybe they fought while I was away today. Pretty bummed. Everything was going so smoothly yesterday.  :(  I scooped all the dead/dying ants out of the tube and right now it's just the queen and her one remaining worker. I'll see if the queen recovers before thinking of the next course of action I want to take. Either way, it doesn't seem to be looking good. 

 

At least the Camponotus are doing well. Queen 4 still doesn't have any eggs. In hindsight, I'm hoping she didn't have any with her when I found her, but in that dirt it would have been impossible to find them anyways. I suppose even if she did have some already, I would guess she could always lay more later, right? She's comfy and doing well in her tube and I guess that's all that matters right now.



#20 Offline Hikari - Posted June 9 2017 - 10:50 PM

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- (6-9-17) Sadly, the L. umbratus queen didn't make it. I had a feeling after last night she wouldn't. I'm sad, but I know even experienced antkeepers have had horrible luck trying to raise those queens, so I know I won't be the first nor the last to fail. At the very least, it was a learning experience.

 

On a brighter note, Queen 4 laid eggs! That means all my Camponotus queens have brood now. I took pictures of everyone to celebrate.

 

Here's Maya in her formicarium, looking rather confused as to why it got all bright all of a sudden:

 

FqNKh82.jpg

 

She keeps such a neat little pile of eggs.

 

-

 

Meanwhile, I was wondering why Onyxia had been hanging out near the wet cotton so much lately. Now I know why...

eblZedx.jpg

 

I'm just gonna give her the benefit of the doubt that she knows what she's doing though. Also, at this point I've pretty much stopped worrying about her gaster dent. She's been doing fine.

 

-

 

Queen 3 still won't let me get a decent shot of her brood pile. She's very protective of them, and she's laid more since I've found her. I still haven't thought of a name for her...

 

RzmQJ1Z.jpg

 

 

I've named Queen 4 "Terra", because I found her in the dirt (which, even if she is an ant, is odd for her species). It's also the name of a Final Fantasy character I like, so win-win!

 

izOkR2l.jpg

 

5 little eggs so far. I'm sure there'll be more.

 

-

 

Also, the test tubes I ordered arrived! I used the links given to me earlier. They arrived really quickly! I realized none of the tubing I have fits the 16mm test tubes though. I wonder what I should do to connect them securely? 16mm is very close to 5/8in, so maybe I'll get some 5/8 ID tubing and use that to connect to the 1/2in ID tubing and use THAT to connect to the 1/2in OD tubing... (that's a lot of tubing). I also ordered 13mm tubes that (luckily) fit into the 1/2in ID tubing perfectly, which will be useful if I pick up any smaller ants again. I think I might try hunting for Pavement ant queens on my next day off. My attempts at keeping the Lasius ants seemed to spark my interest in the smaller ant species, which til now I thought would be too boring cause they're hard to see, but I guess not! I also found some small snap-top containers at Michael's that'll be perfect for taking with me on my ant hunts. I think I might try the park. I can take the dog and walk her while I'm at it, two birds with one stone.


Edited by Hikari, June 9 2017 - 10:51 PM.






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