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MEEP MEEP! Meet the Speedos - Serafine's Lasius niger

lasius lasius niger

51 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Serafine - Posted October 22 2017 - 6:33 AM

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Lasius niger

Lasius niger can be found all over the northern hemisphere, it is one of the most abundant ants in central/northern Europe and a really great pet ant species. They have adapted very well to human settlements and are particularly dominant in urban areas, occasionally they invade houses but they rarely ever actually nest inside houses and thus are not considered house ants. They will go to great efforts in their chase for perfect nesting conditions - studies found that some colonies carry their brood up into satellite nests on the roofs of 50 meter high buildings to benefit from the intense warmth up there.
 
A lot of people think that because these ants are so abundant they'd be boring, but they are not. Lasius niger is incredibly resilient, active, fast growing, aggressive, recruits very effectively and utterly dominates areas it managed to establish itself in, wiping out other ant colonies that happen to end up inside it's territory with great efficiency.

oPuCfII.jpg


Taxonomy
-Familia: Formicidae/ants (Latreille, 1809)
--Subfamilia: Formicinae/scale ants (Lepeletier, 1836)
---Tribus: Lasiini (Ashmead, 1905)
----Genus: Lasius (Fabricius, 1804)
-----Subgenus: Lasius s. str. (Fabricius, 1804)
------Species: Lasius niger (Linnaeus, 1758)
-------Subspecies: Lasius niger niger (Linnaeus, 1758); Lasius niger pinetorum Ruszky, 1907


Basic information
Origin: Pretty much the entire northern hemisphere except the subpolar and polar regions
Habitat: Prefers warm and temperate climate, avoids shady woods and moors. Is well adapted to urban environments and can be found in cities, parks, gardens and acres, sometimes up to more than 100 nests per 100 m².
Colony form: monogynous, highly aggressive towards other ants, very dominant in areas under it's control
Colony size: up to 50.000 workers
Colony age: up to 25 years
Founding: claustral, up to 25% in pleometrosis
Workers: monomorph
Nesting sizes: Soil nests of up to 2 meters in depth, under stones, sidewalks, pavement, sometimes also in dead wood. Can build (relatively flat) soil mounds, will build roofs over their main ant trails. Often founds satellite nests near food sources or warm places.
Feeding: Trophobiosis, Zoophagy (liquid sugars und arthropods)
Hibernation: October – March at 5-10°C, stops laying eggs after summer due to an endogenic rhythm, exogenic (temperature-dependent) hibernation, mediterranian and subtropical colonies may have reduced hibernation
Diapause: during dry hot peroids the colony will rest within deeper nest chambers
Reproduction: Nuptial flight in June – August, will swarm on humid warm days during afternoon. Stray queens can often be found until it gets dark.
Nuptial flights are locally synchronized which leads to massive amounts of queens being ejected from thousands of nests at the same time. When these ants fly it is literally impossible to miss them, they're everywhere.

Appearance/Coloration
Workers: shimmering black to dark brown, silver hairs
Queen: shimmering black to dark brown, silver hairs
Males: shimmering black to dark brown, silver hairs

Size
Workers: 3-5mm
Queen: 8-9mm (occasionally up to 12mm), chubby
Males: 3,5-4,5mm, thin, small head with big eyes, almost looks like a small wasp



Development time

at 25°C
Workers: 4-6 weeks (sometimes up to 10 weeks)
Egg - Larva: 9-16 days
Larva - Pupa: 9-13 days
Pupa - Worker: 9-12 days

Notes: -
 


Antkeeping information
Recommended for beginners: Definitely yes, but keep in mind that colonies grow fast and can quickly become massive in size.
Temperature: Outworld: 18 - 30°C, Nesting area: 20 - 26°C
Humidity: Outworld: 30 - 50%, Nesting area: 50 - 60%
Nest types: Soil nest, sand-clay farm, gypsum, Ytong, acrylics and 3D-printed nests (preferrably with a bottom coat of sand-clay or grout). The ants need moist areas for their brood, these can be provided by a water test tube attached to the nest.
Formicarium size: Should fit the current colony size.
Formicarium accessories: Optional heat source (heat mate, heating cable or heat lamp), they don't really need it though.
Substrate type: This species can walk well on almost any surface. Glass, vinyl tubing, acrylics, sand, clay and grout pose no issues. They can also climb vertical and upside down on glass.



Additional antkeeping information
Very adaptable species that can thrive in a broad variety of nests and nesting conditions. Does well even under less-than-ideal conditions.
Doesn't care too much for vibrations but is very sensitive to bright light. Can get used to daylight though.
Colonies grow fast, so plan ahead. Under good conditions they can easily grow to over 1000 workers in year 2.
Colonies can grow to quite massive proportions of over 50.000 workers – if you wish for a good beginner species that is equally adaptable but less aggressive and doesn't grow that big take a look at Formica fusca.
Lasius niger are quite resourceful with protein food but will drink a lot of sugar water.
The workers are REALLY FAST and very aggressive - do NOT try to feed them inside their tube, workers will inevitably escape and get lost. As soon as they have their first workers put their tube into an outworld and offer food there.

Test tubes of around 15x150mm are great starter nests. These tubes feature a large enough water tank for several months which means you won't have to move your ants before the colony grew to a good size. The entrance area should be sized down with cotton and a large straw (as passage) to reduce evaporation.
Lasius niger are very tied to their nest and will often refuse to move even when in a dried-out tube exposed to daylight. Do NOT try to move them, they will move when they need to. Force-moving them will seriously stall their development. You can try to attach a second test tube with a straw connecting the both, if you're lucky they will consider the new tube part of their nest and move into it.

! Lasius niger is extremely aggressive towards other ants. If you keep other colonies make sure that the Lasius not only cannot escape their setup but also that they cannot enter the setups of your other colonies. Lasius niger will attack and very efficiently kill off other colonies if they get a chance (that includes aggressive species like Pheidole megacephala, Tetramorium ants and other Lasius niger colonies).
Lasius niger will not accept any other ant colony within their territory (so trying to combine them with for example a tiny Temnothorax species will not work).




Diet & Nutrition
All insect foods are frozen.
 
Preferred
Accepted
Reaction inconsistent
Refused (ignored or dumped)
Not yet found/used
 
 
Sunburst ant nectar (they love it)

Bee brood (preferred food) 
Green bottle flies (box from pet shop, very popular)
Wild spiders (they LOVE those, it's a delicacy)
Dry salt (yes, they have some salt in their setup and occasionally lick from it)
Meat fly pupae (box from pet shop)
Drosophila melanogaster (cup from pet shop, they only accept them once every few weeks)
 
 
 

Event Index
 
-
 
 
 
 
Colony development

4th July '17


23rd July '17


24th July '17


4th August '17


21st August '17


26th August '17


2nd September '17


17th September '17


21st September '17


26th September '17


5th October '17


13th October '17


18th October '17


20th October '17


22nd October '17


27th October '17

 
4th November '17

 
8th November '17


12th November '17


22nd November '17

Edited by Serafine, November 24 2017 - 1:24 PM.

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#2 Offline Serafine - Posted October 22 2017 - 8:57 AM

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The queen took about 7 weeks to get her first nanitics and since then I've only fed them with fruit flies but two days they got their first larger meal, a meat fly pupa. It was quickly discovered and claimed by several workers.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday they got a small spider I caught outside.

 

They got a lot of workers on it very quickly...

 

... and it was the first food item that actually got dragged all the way into the nest. Looks like these ants love spiders, too.

 

The colony grows by about a worker every 1-2 days and is drinking a lot of sugar water. Theoretically they should go into hibernation soon but I don't see any signs of that happening, they keep producing eggs and pupae.


Edited by Serafine, October 22 2017 - 8:58 AM.

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We should respect all forms of consciousness. The body is just a vessel, a mere hull.

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Welcome to Lazy Tube - My Camponotus Journal

#3 Offline Nathant2131 - Posted October 22 2017 - 3:34 PM

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Nice!


Edited by Nathant2131, October 22 2017 - 3:34 PM.


#4 Offline Connectimyrmex - Posted October 22 2017 - 5:26 PM

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Beautiful colony!

They must proceed at a high velocity ;)


Hawaiiant (Ben)

Keeper of
Miniature Labradoodle
Baby Wolf Spider
Mud Dauber wasp larvae
Ochetellus Glaber
Solenopsis Geminata
Brachymyrmex Obscurior
Cardiocondyla Emeryi
Tetramorium Bicarinatum
Plagiolepis Alluaudi
Anoplolepis Gracilipes
Technomyrmex Difficilis
Pheidole Megacephala
Aholehole fish
Cowrie snail
Sea Fan Worm
100+ sea squirts
Tree seedlings
Ghost Crab
Day Gecko
Small Fat Centipede
Endemic Lacewing larva
Vernal Pool shrimps

#5 Offline Chicken_eater100 - Posted October 22 2017 - 5:27 PM

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Now I can't stop thinking about ants in speedos

#6 Offline Serafine - Posted October 23 2017 - 5:33 AM

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Beautiful colony!

They must proceed at a high velocity ;)

Oh yes, they do. They are really fast for such small ants. Every time I lift their roof the older workers start running around like crazy.


We should respect all forms of consciousness. The body is just a vessel, a mere hull.

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Welcome to Lazy Tube - My Camponotus Journal

#7 Offline rdurham02 - Posted October 23 2017 - 6:54 AM

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Nice postings! Makes me excited the see how my L. Neoniger queens I caught this season will do post-hibernation.  :D



#8 Offline Connectimyrmex - Posted October 23 2017 - 2:44 PM

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Beautiful colony!

They must proceed at a high velocity ;)

Oh yes, they do. They are really fast for such small ants. Every time I lift their roof the older workers start running around like crazy.

 

GOTTA GO FASSSSTTTTT
I'm glad to see a journal on Lasius niger, I always hear people say that Lasius is easy to keep but I never see any good journals on them.
 


Hawaiiant (Ben)

Keeper of
Miniature Labradoodle
Baby Wolf Spider
Mud Dauber wasp larvae
Ochetellus Glaber
Solenopsis Geminata
Brachymyrmex Obscurior
Cardiocondyla Emeryi
Tetramorium Bicarinatum
Plagiolepis Alluaudi
Anoplolepis Gracilipes
Technomyrmex Difficilis
Pheidole Megacephala
Aholehole fish
Cowrie snail
Sea Fan Worm
100+ sea squirts
Tree seedlings
Ghost Crab
Day Gecko
Small Fat Centipede
Endemic Lacewing larva
Vernal Pool shrimps

#9 Offline Serafine - Posted October 28 2017 - 3:03 AM

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MEEP MEEP! Quick update!
 
Revelation of the week: 20x10cm outworlds SUCK for taking pictures. That was the best I could get.
Gave them a bee pupa head and a half of the abdomen (the rest went to Lazy Tube). Looks like they like it.

 
Didn't look at them every day so it's hard to tell how many larvae they've had but this pupae pile looks significantly larger than the last time I checked.
Gotta love those white callows, they're so cute :D

 
As they do not seem to speed down in any way (in fact it looks like their breeding efforts just start to get traction) I'm going to prepare their first additional outworld (a plastic box similar to the Solenopsis one) over the next few days.

Edited by Serafine, October 28 2017 - 3:09 AM.

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#10 Offline Serafine - Posted November 4 2017 - 11:37 AM

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These ants are not just fast runners, they are fast eaters as well!

 

October 30th, "I claim this for the queen!"

 

November 1st, "Next!"

 

Yep, it took them just around 2 days to carve out the whole thing (they were done when night fell).

 

 

 

It is not very surprising though, they have lot of hungry stomachs to fill! I think they also started to produce a few slightly larger ants (regular workers).

 

 


Edited by Serafine, November 4 2017 - 11:44 AM.

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#11 Offline JackPearl - Posted November 4 2017 - 1:46 PM

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I love that they're such small ants but their pupae have cocoons, (normally seen in larger genus's like Camponotus)
Really seems odd.

#12 Offline Serafine - Posted November 4 2017 - 7:18 PM

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Cocoons aren't a size thing but an evolutionary adaption, most formicine ants have them (Lasius, Formica, Camponotus, Brachymyrmex, Prenolepis, Myrmecocystus are all forminice ants with cocoons, to name just a few).


Edited by Serafine, November 4 2017 - 7:20 PM.

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#13 Offline Connectimyrmex - Posted November 5 2017 - 6:02 AM

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Most ponerines have cocoons as well, even though the majority of them are tiny.


Hawaiiant (Ben)

Keeper of
Miniature Labradoodle
Baby Wolf Spider
Mud Dauber wasp larvae
Ochetellus Glaber
Solenopsis Geminata
Brachymyrmex Obscurior
Cardiocondyla Emeryi
Tetramorium Bicarinatum
Plagiolepis Alluaudi
Anoplolepis Gracilipes
Technomyrmex Difficilis
Pheidole Megacephala
Aholehole fish
Cowrie snail
Sea Fan Worm
100+ sea squirts
Tree seedlings
Ghost Crab
Day Gecko
Small Fat Centipede
Endemic Lacewing larva
Vernal Pool shrimps

#14 Offline Serafine - Posted November 8 2017 - 3:01 PM

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Taking pictures of their tube just got a bit harder...

 

Yes, they got an outworld. It's just a makeshift model and only a temporary solution. They were super excited anyway and a few of them have already checked out pretty much every corner of it. The pictures are kinda crappy though, I need to find a proper way to make pictures through that plastic.

 

After they had entered it (which took about 10 minutes) they found the feeder in less than 2 minutes. They are pretty hard to track in that outworld though cause they're so fast - they can traverse the entire box in less than 10 seconds.

 

 

They also seem to have some sort of "say NO to hibernation" campaign going...

 


Edited by Serafine, November 8 2017 - 3:02 PM.

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Welcome to Lazy Tube - My Camponotus Journal

#15 Offline Connectimyrmex - Posted November 8 2017 - 3:40 PM

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Taking pictures of their tube just got a bit harder...

 

Yes, they got an outworld. It's just a makeshift model and only a temporary solution. They were super excited anyway and a few of them have already checked out pretty much every corner of it. The pictures are kinda crappy though, I need to find a proper way to make pictures through that plastic.

 

After they had entered it (which took about 10 minutes) they found the feeder in less than 2 minutes. They are pretty hard to track in that outworld though cause they're so fast - they can traverse the entire box in less than 10 seconds.

 

 

They also seem to have some sort of "say NO to hibernation" campaign going...

 

Same thing with my myrmica queen. Whenever I put her in hibernation, she somehow squeezes out of her tube and catches a wild spider or other bug. She always eats the body and stuffs the legs in the cotton.


Hawaiiant (Ben)

Keeper of
Miniature Labradoodle
Baby Wolf Spider
Mud Dauber wasp larvae
Ochetellus Glaber
Solenopsis Geminata
Brachymyrmex Obscurior
Cardiocondyla Emeryi
Tetramorium Bicarinatum
Plagiolepis Alluaudi
Anoplolepis Gracilipes
Technomyrmex Difficilis
Pheidole Megacephala
Aholehole fish
Cowrie snail
Sea Fan Worm
100+ sea squirts
Tree seedlings
Ghost Crab
Day Gecko
Small Fat Centipede
Endemic Lacewing larva
Vernal Pool shrimps

#16 Offline Serafine - Posted November 9 2017 - 12:17 AM

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I had to unplug their outworld again because of 2 escapees. Not sure where these came from - they may have been on the "tent" when I took it off for pictures, they might have sneaked out while I was busy adding the outworld, they might have walked over the edge of the plastic box before the lid was in place or they might have actually found a way out - I don't think they got out of the setup after I had attached the whole thing (the workers seem to avoid the Fluon altogether) but since both were walking around on the Lazy Tube nest I'm not gonna take any risks. Probably gonna order some mesh (to glue into the box lid) from Simants or a smaller outworld of some sort.


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#17 Offline Serafine - Posted November 9 2017 - 12:48 PM

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Added the outworld again, but this time with no ventilation holes in the lid. Gonna get some aluminum mesh and modify the (now unused) lid with that. Watched them and yes, they can walk straight over the Fluon barrier (probably the Fluon has become bad but I'd rather play safe with ants that can make it down from the shelf onto the table with my Camponotus in less than a minute). The last thing I need is an ant war in my room.


Edited by Serafine, November 9 2017 - 12:49 PM.

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#18 Offline Serafine - Posted November 12 2017 - 3:10 AM

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Hooray, while the Speedos do like a good bee pupa...


...they aren't such complete divas as my Camponotus and actually eat crickets as well.



They're still not slowing down, are VERY active when the cover gets removed and the pile of brood is still growing.



Edited by Serafine, November 12 2017 - 3:10 AM.

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#19 Offline Serafine - Posted November 15 2017 - 2:22 PM

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After the first "OMG NEW TERRITORY!" frenzy they aren't coming that much now but I can often see them at the far off sugar feeder - for some reason they seem to prefer it over the one closer to the nest.


They just keep going, the queen has even laid new eggs.
They also have at least 4 naked pupae (at least that's how many I can see, they hide some of the brood on the cotton).
I like how they used the sand to suppress the mold that started to grow at some parts of the cotton, that seems to work very well.




They have carried a lot of sand to the entrance area and it seems they even store some of the pupae there.

Edited by Serafine, November 15 2017 - 2:44 PM.

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Welcome to Lazy Tube - My Camponotus Journal

#20 Offline Bracchymyrmex - Posted November 15 2017 - 4:06 PM

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A few of my colonies have also joined the NO HIBERNATION campaign, namely Temnothorax, Crematogaster and Brachymyrmex depelis. Quite peculiar behavior, but I'm wondering if I should stick em into hibernation anyways. Do you have any plans to force this colony into hibernation?


  • 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)





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