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Dreamer's L.Niger (Trinity colony)

lasius niger

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#1 Offline Dreamer - Posted November 17 2017 - 3:36 PM

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Note: please click on images to see full size versions

 

I've decided to move my journals to here to get a bit more exposure.

 

As a first time ant keeper I took people's advice from online and got some of the easy to look after ants.

 

I'd really recommend serafine's introduction to Lasius Niger if you want more information about the species: http://www.formicult...-niger/?p=75525

 

5th September 2017

My Lasius Niger queen arrived along with my Lasius Flavus queen. She was pretty active from the start and already had a very small pile of eggs/lavae before arriving. Being new to anting I decided to wrap her test tube in red celophane to keep it dark and more natural. I commited to only look in once per week and put her in the warmest room of the house (for international readers - don't worry, the UK isn't that warm).

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12th September 2017

Although it's hard to see in the picture below, my new queen has 3 eggs that are steadily growing. She looked to be cleaning them at the time of the photo. Because of the celophane and the dark (I had to use red light to see) it was very hard to tell when the eggs became lavae/pupae, they were just over 1mm long.

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19th September
The 3 lavae appeared to have become pupae at this point with a slightly duller casing and being darker inside. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos. Definitely 3 of them.

26th September
When I looked in on the queen I found out all 3 of the pupae had eclosed into nanitics cheesy.png It seemed so sudden, to go from very little action to having 3 tiny ants running around. They are all very small, probably only 2mm long. They are very fast though in comparision to my other ants, sometimes they move so fast it seems disproportunate to their size.

I gave them a tiny amount of protein jelly and a drop of honey, both of which seemed to be welcomed.

In the picture you can just see two nanitics, one by the queen's head and one below her. It was at this point when she'd raised 3 little nanitics that I decided to call the colony Trinity as all 3 had arrived at the same time.

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9th October
The queen had laid some very tiny eggs and I decided to move the test tube into the outworld of a small acrylic formicarium I'd got from Ants Russia. That way I could put a tube in the end and let them explore, which also makes feeding them easier.

You'll also notice that I got out my DSLR to take some better shots, much much better in the dark red light.

DSC_0702.jpg

14th October
You can really see the queen, 3 nanitics and new brood in this shot. Trinity colony is off to a good start cheesy.png The formicarium also has water in it and when I put some more protein jelly next to the tube one of the nanitics finds it and starts to feed from it. I also added a few drops of sugar water. They are kept at a steady 26*C.

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Sometime after this and before the next update the thermostat breaks for my heat mat and everything shuts down. That's not great as the room all my ants are in is not heated sad.png So they get much colder for a couple of days until the replacement arrives, I also get a second heat mat with a mini-thermostat incase I have any future problems.

20th October
I had ordered some fruitflies for my colonies, so I put one at the entrance to the exit tube that runs out of the test tube. That disapeared inside over night. Brood still being cared for in the bottom of the tube. I've lowered the temperature to 25*C now as the queen was not always settling on the floor of the test tube, but instead staying on the damp cotton wool. The nanitics are the most active of my ants by a long way, much more active than my C.Barbaricus nanitics that are older, but seem to like standing still in the test tube nearly all the time.

I'm hoping the tiny larae will eclose before hibernation. I'm planning to hibernate them mid-November.

5th November

It's quite hard to see into the test tube at one side as there is some condensation. I edited this to black and white to make it clearer, there is the queen, a couple of workers and some brood under her. I was excited to see that a 4 worker has eclosed and is now running around with the rest. It's hard to tell how many eggs and brood there are as some seem to be on the cottonwool.

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I moved them up further from the heat mat, which has dropped the temperature to around 22*C, but the queen is still hugging the cotton most of the time. I guess it may just be a humidity thing. I moved the test tube to a new outworld & formicarium that had just arrived from China. I'm really pleased with it, only issue is that it doesn't come with hydration outside the nest, but great value for money and lots of space in the nest - which seems important for these guys as L.Niger colonies are supposed to grow fast. Here's the new set up:

DSC_0729.jpg

12th November
They've been busy, they now have 5 workers c015.gif It's taken me a couple of days to get a good shot with them all in. There are also 2 pupae, so I'm wondering if they will eclose before the end of the month. These guys really aren't showing any signs of hibernation. I've also taken the red celophane away as well and they seem to be happy living in the daylight. If they aren't happy they will hopefully move into the new nest that I've covered with red and black on opposite sides, we'll see...

17_11_12.jpg


Edited by Dreamer, December 31 2017 - 3:34 PM.

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#2 Offline Dreamer - Posted November 19 2017 - 2:01 PM

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18th November
Along with the increase in workers to 5 there has been an increasing number of pupae and lavae, but they have been hard to see as many have been in the cotton wool. A quick count today put the pupae at 6. It seems the colony could double in size in the next couple of weeks! I will probably delay hibernation by a couple of weeks to the end of November, to see if my L.Flavus can get it's first worker and my unknown queen reach the lavae stage.

You can see a pile of pupae and lavae under the queen and two of the workers:
DSC_0790a.jpg

A clearer shot of 5 of the pupae. You can also see a fruit fly (it's not a mutation!) and the rubbish pile in the far right:
DSC_0790a.jpg

I've also been leaving them open to the daylight to try to encourage them to move to the formicarium/nest, but the haven't, the upside is much easier daylight shots. Here's a zoomed out one of the set up:

DSC_0763.jpg

And a very clear one of the queen, workers and pupae:

DSC_0760a.jpg

Another nice close up, especially see the lavae, which is between the workers and the queen - it's only about 2mm long.

DSC_0758a.jpg


Edited by Dreamer, November 19 2017 - 2:30 PM.


#3 Offline Dreamer - Posted November 30 2017 - 2:34 PM

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25th November

Still lots of pupae, but none hatching undecided.png



#4 Offline Dreamer - Posted December 3 2017 - 2:07 PM

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3rd December
Suddenly it's all happened this week. Sadly I've found 1 worker dead. I'm pretty sure it was the one who was always out exploring - I think she probably just got wandered off to die, she's quite a way from the test tube, further into the nest part of the formicarium.

DSC_0820.jpg


We've also had 3 new workers in the last week, taking the colony up to 8. In this shot you can see the difference between the darker older worker and the newly eclosed worker that has not yet gone dark:

DSC_0819a.jpg

I gave them a fruit fly this week, which seems to have disappeared, but I'm not sure if they have eaten it. Some honey and marmite in their feeding dish, but no sign of them eating that either. I've also lowered the temperature by a degree and will do every day now to start hibernation.
 



#5 Offline Dreamer - Posted December 30 2017 - 12:42 PM

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December 30th
The colony has been in hibernation for the last 3 weeks. They are currently at about 13*C. They have filled the tube leading into their test tube with stuff and there has been no sign of them going out. Many of the pupae have eclosed though, so there are about 12-15 of them now. They are pretty low on water, but the humidity is still about 50-60% and I've made sure they have water in the outworld.

I'll probably bring them out of hibernation toward the end of February.



#6 Offline Dreamer - Posted March 5 2018 - 1:20 PM

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4th March

Despite the snow this week I am starting to bring my colonies out of hibernation by slowly increasing the temperature by 0.5*C per day. It will be a couple of weeks.



#7 Offline Dreamer - Posted April 28 2018 - 2:19 PM

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14th April
It has taken a few weeks for these guys to come out of hibernation (0.5*C increase per day up to 22-23*C). As part of the de-hibernation process I provided a new nest for these guys made out of a stack of 5 bead containers (the top is the outworld, then 3 nest layers with a hydration reservoir at the bottom). After a couple of weeks they just moved straight in, taking up residence in the bottom layer, where it's warmest and most humid. Unfortunately it seemed that one the workers had died and had been disembodied. I've also tried the colony with some bean weevils, so we'll see how they go down.


28th April
The bean weavils were taken, but I'm not sure they were eaten. They maybe too hard. I've put lots of food options in for them today: protein jelly, marmite, honey, jam and fruit flies c015.gif
DSC_0945.jpg

Here is one of my favourite shots of the queen and a couple of nanitics:
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You can also see some new eggs have been laid c015.gif (under the nanitics)
DSC_0953.jpg
 



#8 Offline Dreamer - Posted May 14 2018 - 12:44 PM

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May 4th
I made a decision to remove all the condensation from the nest level of the stack. That was after one of my workers died in a different colony, but the same setup. This was a pretty invasive proceedure and the colony went a bit wild, with the queen running all over and a lot of excitement. Interestingly though they all pretty much stayed on the floor of the acrylic tub, so there were no escapees. Removing the top sections allowed for some great shots. You can see some out of focus eggs and lavae in the second photo:

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May 9th
As you can see in the photo below more condensation has arrived, so I cleared it out again. I think I'm going to be careful now not to over fill the bottom water compartment as the less water is in there the less condensation above. I know that's kind of obvious, but I didn't realise the volume of condensation I'd have this first time around.

DSC_1024a.jpg



#9 Offline Dreamer - Posted June 8 2018 - 3:26 PM

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May 24th
The colony does not seem to venture out of the lowest chamber. I'm a bit worried that this nest design (7cm diameter chambers) is too big for Lasius Niger and more so at this early stage of the colony. I should probably have moved them to a new test tube rather than this home-made nest. It still generates a lot of condensation and I think the colony would be warmer in some of my other setups as they would be much lower down and so much closer to the heat mat.
 
Another slightly worrying thing is that the cotton wool in the centre has gone completely black with mould. I've heard that Lasius Niger aren't the cleanest ants, but this isn't just a silouette, this is colour it looks in board daylight:

DSC_1054.jpg
 
The colony is about 10 ants, which means I've lost some in hibernation, but also probably quite a few in the condensation, which is rubbish. I think I'm going to move them to a more traditional set up with a new testtube and outworld like my other ants. The question is, how do I get them out?
 
June 6th
Still very little going on on the surface, I think they are just staying in the bottom chamber.
 
DSC_1078.jpg
 
The water has nearly run out in the water compartment in the bottom stack, but there is still a lot of condensation 3_to5tWL0CvAjsRQvtaV.png
 
June 8th
I managed to get a close up today, although it's hard to see everything through the condensation! The eggs from before have turned into lavae, so the colony must be going up occasionally for food. The few lavae from before are now at the pupae stage and there seem to be 3 of them.

Snap_091.jpg
 
Doing a quick count of the colony as I took off the lid and removed the condensation on the ceiling, there are... 11 workers. So almost back up to where they were in December. I think a move to a test tube with a dry outworld on a heat mat will help them. I'm just not sure how to get them to move. The 5 stack bead containers that they are in has an exit hole on the 4th floor, so I might be able to move that down. Even so it will still be on the floor above and they will have to all get up there and through quite a long tube into the outworld of the new set up.
 

I'll probably have a go at it over the next two weeks, I'll need to make a new outworld.



#10 Offline Dreamer - Posted June 18 2018 - 1:52 PM

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June 12th
I decided to remove all the water from the bottom of the bead containers and wiped out as much condensation as I could without them escaping. I then removed all the upper layers of the bead stack and just put one layer on top of where they are. That layer is the one with the exit, which I have connected by a longer tube to a small white sand outworld with a feeder and some food. Finally the outworld is connected to a test tube with water that is covered. I have removed the cover from the bead stack nest so they are exposed to light from all sides, which should encourage them to move.
 
My hope is two fold:
1. That the humidity will drop and condensation decrease.
2. That they will move up to the next level of the stack and go alone the tube to the new outworld and test tube nest.
 
On the positive side, they do have 3-4 pupae and several large lavae. Here is a shot of a darkening pupae:
 

Snap_103.jpg
 



#11 Offline Dreamer - Posted July 6 2018 - 3:55 PM

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July 1st
The colony is now at 12 workers as far as I can see. They have stayed in the old bead container stack nest, but they are exploring into the new outworld. The humidity has dropped considerably now I've removed all the water from the bottom hydration stack. The cotton in the middle remains black with mould (see photo's above) and the pile of brood has grown with more eggs and seems to be developing nicely. I'm hoping there will be a sudden burst of growth soon to bring the colony over 20 workers cheesy.png
 

I gave them a marshmellow to eat, but they've ignored it. Two fruitflies have disappeared and they seem to have attacked a digestive biscuit with some vigour cheesy.png Slow and steady progress from this colony. Hopefully they will grow soon and move into the covered test tube linked to their new outworld.







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