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TennesseeAnt's experimental Crematogaster minutissima colony(updated 9/22/2017)


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#1 Online TennesseeAnts - Posted September 17 2017 - 10:44 AM

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I've already conglomerated all of my journals into one but thought this one should have its own. Here is a colony of Crematogaster minutissima smithi, it has around 75-100 workers(larger than I had planned, but it's still pretty young) and a queen, which I didn't actually see when collecting it but ended up being in the bucket :D

I'm experimenting with this colony because it turns out really no one has kept them

DSC 0214

They are still settling in, that is why they are desperately trying to get out 


Edited by TennesseeAnts, September 22 2017 - 1:47 PM.

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#2 Offline Bracchymyrmex - Posted September 17 2017 - 11:59 AM

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Beautiful species. Good luck!


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  • Colonies or Queens available for adoption:

    • Camponotus pennsylvanicus (2x) 
    • Prenolepis imparis (6x) 
    • Crematogaster cf. cerasi (12x)
    • Brachymyrmex depilis (18x) 
    • Myrmica spp. (2x)
    • Pheidole bicarinata (1x)
    • Solenopsis molesta (10x)
    • Temnathorax curvispinosus (x15)
    • Temnathorax ambiguus (x10)
    • Forelius pruinosus (x3)
    • Myrmecina americana (x1)
    • Formica pallidefulva (x1)

#3 Online TennesseeAnts - Posted September 19 2017 - 6:32 AM

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Update:

I've read that this species is supposed to be nocturnal, but they are very active for me at all times of day. I'm beginning to think that it has more to do with temperature then light or time of day. It is a little cooler in my garage where they are than it is outside, and this may be the reason they are so active. In the wild I've noticed that this species comes out in the day if it is cool, and they are very active as soon as the temperature drops, even if it is still bright outside. Also, from more research I'm kinda puzzled exactly what the purpose of the intermediates is, can they actually replace the queen if she dies, or do they only lay infertile eggs?



#4 Offline StopSpazzing - Posted September 19 2017 - 9:01 AM

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Interesting. Ground breaking ant keeping. Why do you think it is no one keeps them?


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#5 Online TennesseeAnts - Posted September 19 2017 - 10:20 AM

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Interesting. Ground breaking ant keeping. Why do you think it is no one keeps them?

I really have no idea. It can't be their size, I mean, people keep Solenopsis molesta for crying out loud!

They really have been a joy to keep these last two days. I hope the colony does well.



#6 Offline 123LordOfAnts123 - Posted September 19 2017 - 10:33 AM

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Where did you collect them? C. minutissima smithi is ground nesting while C. minutissima missouriensis can be found nesting within rotting wood. Both share a somewhat similar range but have a few ecological and morphilogical differences.

Here in Florida C. missouriensis is locally common and would be easy to collect if not for their diminutive size. In the wild they are almost surely strictly nocturnal, but in captivity I have observed similiar behavior as you although there is a difference in activity during the day vs at night. In contrast to C. smithi, colonies are extremely polygynous and possess a slightly smaller queen size overall. Intercastes used for food egg production are apparently much more common in smithi. I have observed only a single intercaste specimen in C. missouriensis, despite encountering hundreds of wild nests, that single individual being in my own colony.

C. missouriensis can be propagated to some degree in captivity, males are fairly eager to mate and tiny flights occur which results in successful mating, undoubtedly due to queen relatedness being diluted due to polygyny. My colony has grown from 12 queens last year to over 30 this year. Queen life span seems short and several (presumably last years) queens have perished leaving this colony at about 24 queens and 500 workers.




Intercaste in the middle


Edited by 123LordOfAnts123, September 19 2017 - 10:35 AM.

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#7 Online TennesseeAnts - Posted September 19 2017 - 10:40 AM

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Where did you collect them? C. minutissima smithi is ground nesting while C. minutissima missouriensis can be found nesting within rotting wood. Both share a somewhat similar range but have a few ecological and morphilogical differences.
 

I collected them in dirt, I'm sure they are smithi because I have never seen them in the wild with more than on queen, also there are always tons of intermorphs.



#8 Online TennesseeAnts - Posted September 19 2017 - 10:46 AM

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C. missouriensis can be propagated to some degree in captivity, males are fairly eager to mate and tiny flights occur which results in successful mating, undoubtedly due to queen relatedness being diluted due to polygyny. My colony has grown from 12 queens last year to over 30 this year. Queen life span seems short and several (presumably last years) queens have perished leaving this colony at about 24 queens and 500 workers.
 

That is awesome that there is someone else keeping this species, even if it isn't technically exactly the same species. I was not aware that C. missouriensis was polygynous, that is cool that they mate within the nest to produce more queens. Now, do you know, I was wondering if perhaps intermorphs could mate and then produce fertile eggs and replace the queen, I thought I had read this at some point when I very first got into ant keeping and was trying to figure stuff out about this species.


Edited by TennesseeAnts, September 19 2017 - 10:47 AM.

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#9 Offline 123LordOfAnts123 - Posted September 19 2017 - 11:00 AM

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Intercastes in this instance possess no spermetheca and as such are unable to produce fertile (worker destined) eggs. The infertile eggs they do lay are capable of development into males and may even compete with the queen's own sons for fertilization of other queens, though the likelihood of this happening is apparently tiny due to intercaste rareness and the fact that their eggs are normally eaten.

The true purpose of them, whether there even is one, is not entirely understood. They only lay 1.7x as many eggs as workers themselves do, which in total contribute more to trophic egg production than all the intercastes combined. Perhaps they're an evolutionary remnant of a caste that was once more useful but is now slowly disappearing, similiar to the now extremely rare intercaste of the closely related missouriensis.

Edited by 123LordOfAnts123, September 19 2017 - 11:03 AM.


#10 Online TennesseeAnts - Posted September 19 2017 - 5:25 PM

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Okay, so apparently I was wrong about this being smithi and not missouriensis. It happened when I was catching more colonies of this species to see if I could find any missouriensis and noticed that the queens from the different colonies I was catching varied, some were smaller, darker, and had different patterns of colours on their gasters then the others. Also, it seemed that the smaller, darker ones all nested in the same general area, away from the slightly different ones(they were out in the open in very clayey soils, while the others were in more shaded areas). And I really knew for sure when I dug up a colony and for the first time saw two queens! So it turns out that the colony I have been keeping was missouriensis, but this was just by chance that it wasn't smithi, because there is also a lot of those on my property. I've now seen a lot of colonies of both species so it is now easy to tell the two subspecies apart. As a breakdown, the colonies I saw with multiple queens in shaded areas(missouriensis)are smaller, have less of a plump look(the queens that is), and slightly different colorings. And that is what completely matches the colony I have been keeping this entire time! 

(I hope you could follow any of that, my writing is not that good)



#11 Online TennesseeAnts - Posted September 22 2017 - 1:46 PM

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After discovering that this is the subspecies that is polgynous, I decided to test it out by tryig some colony combining with a few more colonies I managed to dig up, and it went very well, there is no aggression. Two days ago after I had done this then I went out and caught A few more queens as well, this time with just a few workers, and within a few hours they had already moved into the test tube with the colony in it! Now the colony has five queens.

192

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#12 Offline VoidElecent - Posted October 22 2017 - 5:47 PM

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How large are the workers?


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