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Vendayn's Incisitermes minor (Western drywood termites) 9/25/17 - large female alates!


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#1 Offline Vendayn - Posted August 27 2017 - 3:49 PM

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This is my second attempt at keeping Western drywood termites (Incisitermes minor). In my previous attempt last year, I didn't set up their test tube properly and they died from mold. This time I had a much better test tube to use, and instead of the wood touching the wet cotton, its by itself. I also used a single piece of wood (but enough for multiple alates) instead of a bunch of wood crammed in. So, it looks nicer too and will be easier to see them.

 

Today I was only able to get 3 alates (one is a female, two are males). Tomorrow and Tuesday I'll be able to get a lot more.

 

Drywood termite alates are easier to tell apart (gender wise) than subterranean termites. The females will be a bit enlarged and their abdomens will be more bulging, where as the males look a tad smaller and don't have bulging abdomens. I'm also pretty sure I can put a bunch of alates together though and they'll co-exist with multiple queens/males so that will be my experiment to observe to see if that works. Two colonies won't get along, but I don't see why not that they can't start with multiple queens (and males) when founding a colony. If not, well then no Drywood termites this year for me :P But, we'll find out together. :)


Edited by Vendayn, Yesterday, 12:03 PM.


#2 Offline Vendayn - Posted August 28 2017 - 2:55 PM

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They now have 14 termite alates in the test tube, no deaths (usually deaths happen pretty quick, within a few days) but one of the new alates doesn't look very lively so he (a male) probably won't make it. 



#3 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 11 2017 - 1:17 PM

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My first colony in Test Tube A, one of the females has eggs! They've also dug into the wood, so there are probably more eggs inside. First time getting them to lay eggs since trying to raise them. Good start!

Then Test Tube B that I just got today is just crazy. The Drywoods were having the biggest mating flights I've seen since being here and kinda late in the season too. I got over 50 alates, but 3 went to my lizard, two or three were dead.

 

That leaves probably over 40 alates all in one test tube. Drywood termites can have multiple pairs from what I read (multiple sources), so it should be fine. They are all forced to live in a single piece of wood so their colony scent should be relatively universal. The wood is pretty nice sized chunk, so even with over 40 termite alates (some which WILL die, I'll probably have 30+ alates in the end)...that should be plenty of food till they get nymphs. I'll see about taking a picture of Test Tube B tonight or in the next few days, as I don't want to disturb them once they settle.

 

But, wow so many termites today. Hopefully they end up making a larger colony (like I read that they can have multiple pairs.) and not end up killing each other off lol.



#4 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 11 2017 - 2:05 PM

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Got 20+ more Drywood termite alates. Out of those, probably going to add 10 or so into the test tube and the others will go to my ants and lizard.

 

That means there are over 50 alates in the test tube (maybe a bit too much, but the piece of wood is big enough for them to last till nymph stage). Plus some will definitely die anyway.



#5 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 11 2017 - 3:00 PM

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Here are four pictures

 

Spoiler

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#6 Offline LC3 - Posted September 11 2017 - 4:44 PM

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Vendayn has added pictures?!

Oh dear, What has the world come too...


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#7 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 11 2017 - 6:46 PM

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Haha, yeah. Termites are pretty easy to take pictures of and come out pretty well on my junk phone camera :P

 

Also, with that many termites...does the piece of wood in there look like it'll last till they get workers? I guess it takes 9 to 12 months for them to get nymphs.



#8 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 11 2017 - 8:23 PM

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I'll take pictures of their new test tube tomorrow, but I re-did their setup for test tube B. I realized that drywood termites...probably like it dry. And reading other journals and from what other people do, I don't think having cotton blocked with water is a good idea for Western drywood termites. I just emptied the termites into the new tube by shaking them in (taped the test tubes together). Turns out, 4 already drowned on the cotton so obviously wouldn't have been good long-term.

 

Also, will be getting more alates tomorrow if they are out again. Probably get about 10 more to replace the dead ones and some extra. With no water in the test tube, was able to have a MUCH bigger piece of wood in it (the length of nearly the whole test tube). No longer have to worry about them running out of wood! :)



#9 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 12 2017 - 12:23 PM

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Got 6 more alates, since 4 died yesterday and a few died today. Got less than the colony lost and some/a few of those 6 alates will probably die but that is okay. Out of 50+ alates, a lot should live though. Just the ones that don't pair up are likely to die. But, with so many potential pairs, the colony is probably going to get bigger faster than most colonies start off. Plus the colony has the potential to grow a lot bigger overall than a colony with just one pair of termites.

 

Also. They sure dug into the wood fast! Some of them already made a couple of holes that I can see and probably some made holes on the bottom that I can't see. Its a pretty decent sized piece of wood and good quality wood, so it should last a long time.


Edited by Vendayn, September 12 2017 - 12:24 PM.


#10 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 12 2017 - 12:37 PM

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Oh. I forgot a pretty big update.

 

There is only one test tube now, I moved everything from test tube A into test tube B. Since Drywood termites are likely to die with too much water, and I didn't want any chance of the wood getting damp and/or moldy and rotten...I re-located everything to one single test tube. There was actually 6 or 7 termites left in test tube A (out of 14). So test tube B actually ended up with 12-13 additional alates, some which will die but that is normal. Termites have a pretty high fatality rate before they get settled in (at least Drywoods).

 

I also noticed early fatality rate is WAY down now that they are in a test tube with just wood (that is very slightly damp, but very little. More like if it got drizzled on, and most of the wood is dry anyway)....without water at all. A few have died, but when they are in a test tube with a water source far more die early on. Some will still die off though if they don't find a mate, probably quite a few depending what the female/male ratio is.


Edited by Vendayn, September 12 2017 - 12:48 PM.

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#11 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 12 2017 - 5:43 PM

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Four new pictures :) This is their new test tube, which is much better! No worries of the wood running out either. Though you can see quite a few dead ones already, but that is normal in my experience.

 

Also, this will be the last update for quite a while. Since it'll take 10-11 months to get nymphs...this thread will be pretty much dead for a whole year :P

 

Spoiler

Edited by Vendayn, September 12 2017 - 5:44 PM.

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#12 Offline Vendayn - Posted September 24 2017 - 1:33 PM

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Surprisingly, there is another huge flight this week with the heat wave. They are flying pretty late this year, and much bigger flights than previous years. Last year their flights ended by the end of August, and were much smaller in numbers as well.

 

I got about 20 new alates (all in same test tube as the previous batch), but this time I got them from the sidewalks and trees. I am going to see if the high death rate was because of the pool chemicals or/and the termites just getting too much water inside them from the pool. The new termites I got seem far more lively than the pool ones I got, a lot faster and don't look so slow compared to the previous ones.

 

I think the only ones that survived earlier this month, were the ones that I randomly found on the sidewalks and all/most of the ones I found in the pools died. We'll see if that is accurate or not.


Edited by Vendayn, September 24 2017 - 1:34 PM.


#13 Offline Vendayn - Posted Yesterday, 11:41 AM

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Mortality rate is WAY down. There are only (out of the 20 or so I got yesterday) 4 dead alates. The first batch I got, a lot more were dead by now. I'm sure a few more will die, but it looks way better start than before. A lot of them dug into the wood too and most still look really lively. Looks like getting alates in the pool is not a good idea, probably the chemicals and probably also Drywood termites don't like moisture.



#14 Offline Vendayn - Posted Yesterday, 12:02 PM

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I got the biggest female Drywood termite alate yet. She is really long and pretty fat. Don't have exact measurements since she moves too much, but I'd say pretty close to the length of a Pogonomyrmex californicus worker, just not as bulky. That is actually pretty big for a termite alate. The one I found looks like she already grew a lot before having her flight, so I don't imagine she was able to fly far with her bulky size. I actually got a few pretty large female alates, though the one I found is definitely by far the biggest. Most of the other females are a lot smaller. 

 

I also ended up getting somewhere around 10-15 alates today, but the ones I got today are a lot larger than ones I got yesterday (which were a lot larger than the ones I got in the pool areas. I noticed once they got into the pool they actually shrunk a lot). I won't be getting anymore though. Any further termites are going straight to my ants.
 

If the really large female survives and finds a mate, she already looks like she is packed with eggs lol. I probably won't even have to wait 10-11 months for workers, since she (and a few other females) look like they are already ready to lay eggs with how big they are.


Edited by Vendayn, Yesterday, 12:07 PM.

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