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Get paid to collect Solenopsis brood for science!

solenopsis invicta solenopsis fire ant rifa s. invicta job money paid science research

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17 replies to this topic

#1 Offline _antqueen - Posted July 5 2017 - 11:47 AM

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Hello fellow ant enthusiasts,
I am a researcher working at Rockefeller University with the Kronauer Lab. In our lab, we study Oocerea biroi (formerly known as Cerapachys biroi), which we feed using brood from fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) colonies. We typically travel to the American South twice a year to collect brood in person. However, as our lab (humans and O. biroi colonies) has been growing, our ants have been consuming more Solenopsis brood than we can collect in a single trip. Our lab is hoping to outsource this task to enthusiastic ant hobbyists looking to make a bit of extra money on the side, while getting another excuse to go out and dig up some invasive fire ant colonies! If you are potentially interested in working with our lab on this aspect of our research, let me know and I can send you more information!

Addendum: our ants do not feed primarily on Solenopsis brood, it is just what we have been collecting in the past. If you have access to large quantities of other invasive ant species (Argentine ant, etc.) brood, that is also a feasible option!

Edited by _antqueen, July 5 2017 - 12:57 PM.

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#2 Offline Martialis - Posted July 5 2017 - 11:52 AM

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Is this legal? Doesn't the PPQ 526 apply to this? I haven't found anything on your site referring to O. birori specifically, but I have found some referring to ants.

 

I know of several S. molesta nests, though for those of us in the northern US, this deal doesn't seem to open. :(

 

"Unfortunately", I'm from one of the few states without invasive ants: Indiana. Oh well! No money for me. :P


Edited by Martialis, July 5 2017 - 11:56 AM.

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#3 Offline _antqueen - Posted July 5 2017 - 12:00 PM

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Hi there Martialis,
Thank you for your response! The brood that we feed to our Oocerea colonies is frozen and is shipped frozen as well, so the PPQ 526 doesn't apply (though our lab does hold that permit, along with approval from the USDA). I clarified later in the original post, but we will welcome receiving brood from any invasive ant species, including S. molesta!

If you are interested in learning more about the research our lab is currently performing with O. biroi, the NY Times published an article a few months back (https://www.nytimes....ified-ants.html), as did PBS NOVA (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/ant-behavior/) featuring recent discoveries.

Edited by _antqueen, July 5 2017 - 12:07 PM.

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#4 Offline Martialis - Posted July 5 2017 - 12:17 PM

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Thanks! Solenopsis molesta is invasive? Pretty sure they're native here in the US. Technically speaking, isn't Tetramorium caespitum a nonnative species?

 

Those are some cool ants!


Edited by Martialis, July 5 2017 - 12:20 PM.

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#5 Offline Serafine - Posted July 5 2017 - 12:28 PM

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Why don't you dig up a (preferably polygynous) fire ant colony and make your own fire ant farm? Solenopsis invicta produces eggs at a ridiculous rate - it might take them a few months to start exploding but then you can basically just clip off one of the (preferably acrylic) formicaria from the setup every few days, put it into a large freezer and harvest the pupae. Solenopsis invicta queens can lay over 10000 eggs per week, that's 10000 new pupae PER WEEK once the colony starts rolling. Since you're already in a lab breeding mealworms and roaches to feed them should not be an issue.

 

This would be MUCH more (cost-)effective than having to dig them from wild fire ant colonies with the risk of being stung - and you do NOT want some underaged kid trying to dig up a fire ant colony without proper protection in hope for some easy bucks.

 

Sorry, but this whole idea doesn't really look well though out.

 

 

P.S. You could also get into contact with beekeepers. A lot of beekeepers regularly cut their brood and just throw them away. Bee pupae make really good ant food although they get bad pretty quickly (which shouldn't be an issue if the ants can completely suck them dry or eat them within a day).


Edited by Serafine, July 5 2017 - 12:39 PM.

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#6 Offline _antqueen - Posted July 5 2017 - 12:52 PM

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Hi there Serafine,
Our lab has maintained multiple live S. invicta colonies in the lab in the past, but they were not producing brood at a fast enough rate to sustain our O. biroi colonies. Our lab goes through one 50ml tube of S. invicta brood each week, so the number of S. invicta colonies required to produce these broods without the colony collapsing is unfeasible in our lab, unfortunately. On collection trips, 3 people over the span of 4 days can collect enough S. invicta broods to last our lab almost a full year, though it requires digging up a few hundred S. invicta colonies and processing them as rapidly and efficiently as possible. Our goal is to find someone (or a few dedicated people) living in an area with access to invasive ant species who can collect broods for us in their spare time. If you would like more information about our lab's work and approach to collecting fire ant brood, just ask!

And Martialis, you are correct, S. molesta is native to the U.S. and T. caespitum is invasive to the U.S.!

Edited by _antqueen, July 5 2017 - 12:54 PM.

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#7 Offline Loops117 - Posted July 5 2017 - 1:05 PM

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Wow, what an awesome idea! Really liking this, and i wish i could collect for you guys.


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#8 Offline Martialis - Posted July 5 2017 - 2:21 PM

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Wow, approximately 2oz of brood a week? That's quite a bit! What is the payout you're offering, and where would one ship to?

Edited by Martialis, July 5 2017 - 2:22 PM.

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#9 Offline Canadian anter - Posted July 5 2017 - 4:13 PM

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What about a from Canada? We have more of the smaller species. Are non-Solenopsis species fine?
Visit us at www.canada-ant-colony.com !

#10 Offline RapaNui - Posted July 5 2017 - 6:17 PM

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Hi! I am in South China and have kept O. biroi before. I have never tried to feed them eggs, but some termites and very small baby roaches, which they accepted and consumed. Is your feeding exclusively eggs? and why solenopsis? from all the eggs I have tried, most species don't ever touch solenopsis eggs, I am guessing because of the pheromones or some other chemical.

regards



#11 Offline _antqueen - Posted July 6 2017 - 2:04 PM

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Hi there Martialis,
Yes, unfortunately our lab colonies do go through quite a bit of brood! I would prefer not to publicly talk specifics of the payment (if you would like further details, I'm happy to email you), but our lab would pay more the more brood you would be able to ship us (i.e. if you send us 10 50ml tubes versus 2 50ml tubes, we would pay more per tube for the larger shipment). Shipping would be to the University in NYC, and our laboratory would cover the costs of shipping.

@Canadian anter, we are happy to accept non-Solenopsis brood from Canada, as long as it's shipped frozen on dry ice (and preferably brood from an invasive species)!
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#12 Offline Martialis - Posted July 6 2017 - 8:14 PM

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Thanks! I'm definitely interested in this prospect. Only problem I see is shipping frozen -- how do I do this?


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#13 Offline Leo - Posted July 7 2017 - 4:07 AM

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Hello fellow ant enthusiasts,
I am a researcher working at Rockefeller University with the Kronauer Lab. In our lab, we study Oocerea biroi (formerly known as Cerapachys biroi), which we feed using brood from fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) colonies. We typically travel to the American South twice a year to collect brood in person. However, as our lab (humans and O. biroi colonies) has been growing, our ants have been consuming more Solenopsis brood than we can collect in a single trip. Our lab is hoping to outsource this task to enthusiastic ant hobbyists looking to make a bit of extra money on the side, while getting another excuse to go out and dig up some invasive fire ant colonies! If you are potentially interested in working with our lab on this aspect of our research, let me know and I can send you more information!

Addendum: our ants do not feed primarily on Solenopsis brood, it is just what we have been collecting in the past. If you have access to large quantities of other invasive ant species (Argentine ant, etc.) brood, that is also a feasible option!

not very relevant but, since you keep O. biroi do you have any tips for me? I keep cerapachys sulcinodis but they won't lay eggs



#14 Offline _antqueen - Posted July 7 2017 - 12:57 PM

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@RapaNui, thank you for your suggestions! Unfortunately we have tried termites before (and honeybee broods), and our O. biroi didn't accept them very well. We feed our colonies all Solenopsis invicta brood (larvae/pupae), and they love it. Where do you source your termites/cockroaches from, and do you know what species they are?

@Marialis, when we travel to collect broods, we freeze the brood in 50ml tubes and ship them on dry ice. Depending on where you live in the U.S., it should remain frozen until the shipment arrives in NYC.

@Leo, what is your setup for maintaining your C. sulcinodis colonies? I assume you have the queen, and would recommend keeping her as happy as possible. If any of our colonies are especially struggling we double check temperature, humidity, and feed fresh food. Also, disturb them as little as possible? Apologies I cannot offer more concrete advice, we study ants but don't necessarily specialize in ant husbandry :(
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#15 Offline Leo - Posted July 7 2017 - 4:41 PM

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@Leo, what is your setup for maintaining your C. sulcinodis colonies? I assume you have the queen, and would recommend keeping her as happy as possible. If any of our colonies are especially struggling we double check temperature, humidity, and feed fresh food. Also, disturb them as little as possible? Apologies I cannot offer more concrete advice, we study ants but don't necessarily specialize in ant husbandry :(

i keep them in a test tube, they currently have 2 queens what setups- temp do you keep them at?



#16 Offline RapaNui - Posted July 8 2017 - 3:34 AM

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@RapaNui, thank you for your suggestions! Unfortunately we have tried termites before (and honeybee broods), and our O. biroi didn't accept them very well. We feed our colonies all Solenopsis invicta brood (larvae/pupae), and they love it. Where do you source your termites/cockroaches from, and do you know what species they are?

 

Cockroaches are baby red runners (Blatta Lateralis), and termites are caught in the wild, on the same forests I caught O.biroi colony before, not sure what species they are but I have photos. I will upload them.



#17 Offline RapaNui - Posted July 8 2017 - 3:42 AM

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IMG 2248

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#18 Offline _antqueen - Posted July 10 2017 - 7:34 AM

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@Leo, we keep our O. biroi colonies on wet plaster with humidity at 70% and temperature maintained at 25C.





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