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Jamie's Lasius Latipes


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#1 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 2 2018 - 4:21 PM

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Introduction:

Hello everyone. Since there's no successful journals on Lasius Latipes, I've decided to share my adventure with the hope that it may be of use to someone.

Just so that I'm upfront with everyone; I've only been keeping ants for seven months, three of which were during diapause (hibernation). My point is that I may do things that are unconventional, or flat out wrong in regards to the antkeeping world. My methods (or lack thereof) are not above being questioned. If someone sees something that could be done better please point it out so that I, and everyone reading this, can better themselves.

Lastly, please visit Batspiderfish's thread on temporary social parasites. I don't think I would have had any success in this process if it weren't for all of the information and experiences it contains.

http://www.formicult...cial-parasites/




Some people think that raising social parasites isn't worth the hassle. There's much more to it than simply catching a queen, tossing her in a test tube and waiting for something to happen. There's a challenge involved, and problems to be solved when dealing with these queens and their hosts. I feel that it offers much more satisfaction as opposed to dealing with my other non-parasitic queens. Don't get me wrong, I'm just as passionate about them, but there's just more complexity with these queens that makes it much more rewarding.


Truth be told, I'm torn on whether or not I would recommend this species to a beginner. The rate of failure is higher, and it may discourage newbies from any future attempts at ant keeping overall. On the other hand, however, ignorance is bliss. I'm living proof of that. I didn't even know that parasitic ants existed seven months ago. I thought all queens were created equal, and would found their own colonies without any help. It wasn't until I caught a load of various Lasius queens and posted them on this forum for ID that someone pointed out that some of my queens were parasitic. I read up on parasitic ants, and went out and collected some host workers (lucky for me I knew where to find easy access to a bunch of them - under a brick) and tried a few introduction methods I learned from Bat's thread. I never knew that parasitic ants were harder to raise. I just though "Ok, here's what it say's to do, so I'll do just that". My point in all of this is this: Don't let your lack of experience hold you back if this is what you want to do. Just know that it may not work out your first time - don't get discouraged, try again later. It seems luck has a large role to play here.






I wanted to toss a link in here for anyone interested in my Lasius Interjectus journal. I just started it, so there's not much going on yet.

http://www.formicult...jectus-journal/

Edited by Jamiesname, July 11 2018 - 6:18 PM.

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#2 Offline AntsAreUs - Posted April 2 2018 - 4:28 PM

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I've also been trying to keep them for a while now. They tend to die off in captivity quite easily, likely due to a lack of natural resource.


Edited by AntsAreUs, April 2 2018 - 4:28 PM.

Currently keeping:

Ants:    Temnothorax schaumii - Journal

            Temnothorax curvispinosus

            Myrmecina americana - Journal

            Ponera pennsylvanica - Journal

            Formica incerta Journal

            Formica subsericea

            Formica rubicunda

            Aphaenogaster tennesseensis - Journal

            Aphaenogaster rudis Journal

            Myrmica spp. Journal

            Camponotus chromaiodes - Journal

            Camponotus pennsylvanicus

            Camponotus subbarbatus - Journal

            Camponotus sp.

            Strumigenys pergandei - Journal (Discontinued)

            Strumigenys pilinasis - Journal

            Hypoponera opacior

            Tetramorium immigrans - Journal

            Tapinoma sessile - Journal

            Lasius americanus

            Lasius neoniger

            Lasius murphyi

            Solenopsis molesta

            Pheidole pilifera

 

Other:  Millipedes

Isopods

Springtails

Earthworms (for making my own soil)

Soil Centipedes (Geophilomorpha sp.)

Stone Centipedes (Lithobius sp.)

Mealworms/Superworms

Indian Mealmoth Culture

Dipluras

Some types of mites


#3 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 2 2018 - 4:58 PM

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General Information On Lasis Latipes:

 

 

​Most of us are aware that a quick Google search will unearth anything that we could possibly want to know about. . . anything we could possibly want to know. Therefore I'll provide a simple link to Antwiki, which explains this parasitic species better than I ever could  - best of all, I won't need to waste time giving credit to all of the sources that I stole my info from.

 

http://www.antwiki.o.../Lasius_latipes

 

Another important tidbit regarding this species is when you can find the queens wondering around on the sidewalk after their nuptial flight. I noticed that several species (if not most) of Lasius seem to have their nuptial flight at the same time. I caught five different Lasius species when I caught my L. Latipes queen. One oddity for me was that it hadn't rained in the past few days before the flight. That really stuck out for me due to everyone saying to keep an eye out right after rain for nuptial flights. The weather was nice. High 70's, hardly a cloud in the sky. I don't know what the humidity was - I wish I did. It was probably close to 6-7pm, late evening for sure.

 

One pointer that I can give you is to find a Lasius colony under a flat brick or stone somewhere close to you so that you can check it often. During late August (for Michigan anyways) check it and when you see the male and female alates scrambling back into their hole you'll know the flight is close by because they are staying close to the surface. Chances are they'll keep pupae on the surface, under the brick, to keep warm during the day too, so you'll have your host workers and host pupae available. 

 

It's also a good idea to check on Drew's Queen Ant Spotting/Mating Chart (page 1) to get a better idea on nuptial flights:

 

http://www.formicult...ngmating-chart/


Edited by Jamiesname, April 3 2018 - 3:58 PM.

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#4 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 2 2018 - 5:10 PM

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In The Beginning:

 

**I feel the need to point out that some of this information is double posted (here and in Bat's thread). I thought it best not to clog up that thread with every detail, or change of status. Therefore I'll be posting any new information here from now on.

 

 

Capture Date: 9-12-17

​Location: Northeastern Michigan (lower peninsula) on the sidewalk in front of my house. These queens were everywhere.

​I caught her along with over 40 other various Lasius queens that day. I let most of them go, and kept 12. She is the only latipes queen remaining out of the 4 I kept of this species, the other 3 died about a week ago. Subsequently, she is the only one that I placed in a host colony. The other 3 I kept in a test tube setup and planned on hibernating them for the winter in case this particular queen didn't survive the introduction to the host colony. It seems the tables turned on me regarding that situation. Anyways, I went behind my house and flipped a few flat bricks because I knew there were a few Lasius colonies that I had seen weeks before living under some of them. I knew this because I saw queen alates scrambling back into their nest when I was lifting the bricks back then. I also saw a lot of pupae during that time. When I went back to capture some of those workers, I simply took a very large bowl (with an ant proofed rim) and grabbed a handful of the dirt/pupae/workers sitting under the brick and put it into the bowl. I found that the easiest way to recover the workers from the dirt in the bowl was to slowly stir the dirt to uncover them, and then use a test tube to trap them on the side of the bowl and wait until they climbed to the top of the tube, then simply transfer them to another temporary container. Once I dug out all of the workers (there ended up being 15 or so) I put two of them into the tube with my latipes queen. I didn't chill them, or do anything special, I just put them in there with her. Obviously the reaction went as expected, I had to separate them because I thought they were going to kill my queen. I then proceeded to recover the pupae from the dirt. I used a wet Q-tip that the eggs stuck to quite nicely. Once I cleared the surface dirt of eggs, I mixed the soil back up and repeated the process of excavating pupae until I couldn't find anymore. I then put all of the pupae (and only the pupae) into the tube with the latipes queen for about an hour or so, and then I reintroduced the two workers from before. I think she picked up some of the pheromones from the pupae, because this introduction went much, much better. The workers investigated her a little, but didn't attack. A few minutes later they were trying to move the pupae around. I waited until the next day so that the queen could pick up more pheromones from the eggs and workers, and then introduced a few more new workers and it went off without a hitch. They were slightly curious, but soon lost interest in the queen. I then added all of the rest of the workers one by one to see their reactions. They were the same. I felt pretty good and left it for about three days and hoped for the best.

​I read (I believe on this very thread) that once a parasitic queen had been accepted into a colony she will lay more eggs, or less, depending on the size of the host colony. I also saw on here that it is recommended to have 20+ host workers, and I knew that I was a tad shy of that not counting the host pupae. So I went out and flipped the brick next to the one where I first collected a handful of dirt, ants and pupae and did the process a second time. This time all of the new workers accepted the parasitic queen like she was their own, and immediately started moving brood around without a second thought dedicated to the latipes queen, or the first batch of host workers and pupae. This boosted my workers to 40ish, and added to the collection of host pupae.

​Fast forward to a few days ago (9-30-17),I finally got a 15w heating cable and ran it under their makeshift formicarium. I added that detail because it may have been a contributor to what came next. . . On 10-2-17, nearly 3 weeks since I first caught my queen (I was beginning to wonder if I had to hibernate her before she would lay eggs) I noticed what I thought was torn cotton stuck to the top of the test tube. On further inspection it turned out to be a small pile of eggs. Once I moved the tube so that I could take a look on the bottom, I noticed another larger pile of eggs down there.

I used small plastic test tubes for this, 3 x 0.5 x 0.5 inches. Taped two together end to end, one for water and the other for living space. Then I drilled a small hole (big enough for the queen to fit through) inside of the empty tube used for living space, and taped a 6" piece of 1/8" ( inside diameter) clear vinyl tubing to it so that they had plenty of room to move the host brood around if they wanted to. I then placed the entire set up into a clear rectangular plastic cage that my kids used to use for hermit crabs. Once the rim was ant proofed, I placed a plastic dish with cotton balls in the corner of it that I keep moist for extra hydration if the ants need it. Now I see that the ants have put some of the unhatched pupae under the moist cotton. This happened around the same time that I noticed the new batch of eggs. In fact, the new eggs are where they used to keep the pupae, so maybe that's why they pupae got moved to the dish with the moist cotton balls outside of the test tubes. I've also been feeding the colony since day 5 or 6, right after the entirety of the first batch of host workers got successfully introduced. I've been feeding all sorts of things, such as honey, sugar water, candy, cat food, dog food, chicken, beef pot roast, spider, etc.




You can see the larger pile of eggs just to the left of where the two tubes come together.

Eggs



And here is the queen in all of her glory.

Queen


Edited by Jamiesname, April 3 2018 - 3:58 PM.

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#5 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 2 2018 - 5:45 PM

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The Consolidation of Milestones Reached:


**Here I'll just condense a few of my past posts concerning different details as they occurred.

9-12-17 Queen was captured

10-2-17 Eggs noticed/laid

11-20-17 Eggs not only hatched, but larvae have grown to be medium sized.

11-30-17 Colony put into the diapause phase (host Lasius workers, Latipes queen, and Latipes eggs/larvae). I put them in a refrigerator with a low of 33 degrees F and a high of 40 degrees F.

2-7-18 I pulled the colony out of diapause. I was fearful that the colony was vulnerable since it wasn't established. As of writing this there have not been any noticeable negative consequences resulting from this decision. If anything, it was a good move since it gave them a head start for the year. Perhaps that'll change by next winter - maybe they'll tire out earlier. The ants seemed to have eaten some of the larvae. Roughly half of it was missing anyways, where else could it have went?

2-10-18 The queen laid a HUGE pile of eggs sometime in the last three days.

3-6-18 Here's a pic taken today with the queen, a huge pile of eggs underneath her, the host workers, one pupa and a couple dozen larvae just opposite the queen.


Latipes w/ brood



​3-30-18 The first pupae to eclose was a male alate, signaling that my queen is probably infertile. This was a big blow for me because I had such high hopes for this queen and her colony. You can see him in the top, left of the pic.


20180330 160356



​4-1-18 The first Lasius Latipes worker eclosed. The queen is not infertile - at least not completely. Check her out in the pic. She's just to the left of the very center of the image below. Look closely, she's hard to see against the background.



20180401 194318




​4-2-18 I noticed that this worker is having a heck of a time dealing with the other Lasius Sp. workers. If the nest gets disturbed the host workers run about as usual, but they stop at the Latipes worker and inspect her as if they can tell she's slightly different. Some even go as far as mildly attacking her by tugging on her legs, or 'nipping' at her with their mandibles. I hope she makes it, or that more workers eclose soon so that the host workers get used to them in the nest.

Edited by Jamiesname, April 17 2018 - 8:46 AM.

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#6 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 2 2018 - 6:33 PM

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Feeding:

Since I only have one L. Latipes worker at this point, I can't say for certain what this particular species prefers to eat. What I can tell you is that the host workers (believed to be Lasius Neoniger) will eat the following:

-Freeze dried crickets (crushed and slightly rehydrated with water via a syringe)
-Hummingbird nectar
-June Bug Larva (Grubs)
-Spiders
-Millipedes
-Earwigs
-Wild Crickets ​(See below regarding feeding wild insects to your ants)
-Fruit Flies
-Other Ants
-Cooked Chicken
-Boiled Egg Yolk
-Sugar Water
-Honey
-Honey Water
-House Flies


They don't seem to like (Or they didn't eat while I was able to witness):

-Earth Worms
-Imitation Maple Syrup (Log Cabin)
-Raw Guppie Fish
-Imitation Crab Legs
-No Salt Butter
-Smoked Beef Bone Marrow (Dog Bone)
-Dry Dog Food
-Dry Cat Food
-Fish Food Flakes
-Apple
-Orange
-Blueberry
-Boiled Egg Whites
-Banana
-Canned Albacore Tuna (In Water)
-Stink Bugs
-Wax Worms


Now at this point I can only assume that L. Latipes will eat the same as the host colony since those are the foods that the queen is fed, along with the brood. I'll make a note here one way or the other as soon as I am able to confirm this.


**I don't recommend feeding raw​ wild insects to your ants. They can be full of parasites, harmful fungi, bacteria, viruses - the sky's the limit. I cook all wild insects that I catch to kill off all of the above. I do this by first freezing the insects 24 hours, then I put the frozen insects, a few at a time, into a small mason jar that I only use for cooking insects. Once a lid (not metal) is secured on top, I nuke these bad boys in the microwave for a good 90 seconds. This makes those little guys nice and crispy, and everything in/on them will be dead. My ants don't seem to mind one bit, although my Camponotus can be a little funny about them sometimes, but the Lasius colonies love it.

Edited by Jamiesname, April 23 2018 - 3:39 PM.

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#7 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 3 2018 - 3:56 PM

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I've also been trying to keep them for a while now. They tend to die off in captivity quite easily, likely due to a lack of natural resource.

What stage were yours when they began to die off? I do know that I had a few queens die that I didn't give any host workers to. The one queen in which I did give host workers to is still alive and healthy, as you can see in the pictures above.


Edited by Jamiesname, April 3 2018 - 4:01 PM.


#8 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 5 2018 - 12:24 PM

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There hasn't been any recent developments. No new pupae have hatched, so still waiting on the verdict regarding fertility. It should be any day now. I did get a few better pics though - take a look.

20180405 160900


20180405 160842


20180405 160819

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#9 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 17 2018 - 8:25 AM

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Last night I had two more workers eclose, but they were too pale to take pictures of. They really blend in with the cocoons when they are pale from being recently eclosed. Anyways, I went to take a few pics for my journal this morning and three more eclosed overnight making for a grand total of six L. Latipes workers. So far it appears that the very first ant to eclose, the male alate, was a fluke. Anyways, here's a few pics of the new parasitic workers mingling with the host workers. They're still a little light in color, but you can easily pick them out.

I'd also like to add that a little over a week ago I posted about the host workers being mildly aggressive to the first Latipes worker to eclose - that isn't the case anymore. The L. Neoniger workers don't differentiate between any of the ants within the colony at this point, even the newest to eclose.



20180405 160819
20180417 190519



20180417 120843
20180417 190633



20180417 120938
20180417 190542




Edited to add some better pics.

Edited by Jamiesname, April 20 2018 - 4:30 PM.

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#10 Offline MegaMyrmex - Posted April 17 2018 - 8:34 AM

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Oh man, that's awesome! Good luck, and that is one large pile of larvae!

Current colonies-

 

- 2 Camponotus chromaoides

- 1 Aphaenogaster sp. colony

- 1 Crematogaster colony

- 1 Strumigenys colony :yahoo:  :dance:  :dance2: 

 

Species checklist(ants found so far)-

- Aphaenogaster teneseensis

- Aphaenogaster picea

- Aphaenogaster sp.

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus

- Camponotus castaneus

- Camponotus chromaoides

- Camponotus nearcticus

- Camponotus pennsylvanicus

- Camponotus subbarbatus

- Colobopsis impressus(dead queen... :*(

- Crematogaster sp.

- Formica pallidefulva

- Formica sanguinea

- Formica subsericea

- Hypoponera sp.

- Lasius claviger

- Lasius umbratus

- Lasius neoniger

- Lasius sp.

- Monomorium minimum

- Myrmica sp.

- Nylanderia flavipes

- Pheidole morrisi

- Pheidole bicarinata

- Pheidole dentata(all pheidole found were workers only :( )

- Ponera pennsylvanica

- Prenolepis imparis

- Strumigenys rostrata

​- Stigmatomma pallipes :dance2:  :dance:

- Tetramorium immigrans

- Tapinoma sessile

 

Queens/colonies to Look for-

- Pheidole

- Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

- Polyergus

- Dolichoderus

- Myrmica

- Stigmatomma pallipes


#11 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 17 2018 - 8:41 AM

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Oh man, that's awesome! Good luck, and that is one large pile of larvae!



Thanks for the encouragement. I'm kind of embarrassed about how pumped I am for these guys. They're population is going to explode soon. I'm building a bigger formicarium right now so that I'm ready for it when it happens.

#12 Offline T.C. - Posted April 17 2018 - 8:42 AM

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Making good progress. I enjoyed reading it.



#13 Offline Zmagz - Posted April 17 2018 - 12:56 PM

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very exciting to see this colony get larger



#14 Offline antnest8 - Posted April 17 2018 - 1:20 PM

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wow I've never heard of a colony getting this far


have 1 camponotus queen

1 crematogaster queen

5 lasius umbratus queens


#15 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 17 2018 - 2:04 PM

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I'd eventually like to end up with something like this guy:



His is L. Umbratus though.

Edited by Jamiesname, April 17 2018 - 2:06 PM.


#16 Offline Reevak - Posted April 17 2018 - 6:09 PM

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I can't wait to see your colony as big as that one. By the way, has your queen ever had trouble climbing around the nest on vertical surfaces? I know that the ones I caught last summer had trouble climbing just about anything so I was curious about how your queen is doing with that. I didn't have any Lasius workers or brood to give them last year so I couldn't make an attempt at keeping them but I plan to this year and was just wondering if a vertically inclined nest would be unsuitable for them (in your opinion).



#17 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 17 2018 - 7:17 PM

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I can't wait to see your colony as big as that one. By the way, has your queen ever had trouble climbing around the nest on vertical surfaces? I know that the ones I caught last summer had trouble climbing just about anything so I was curious about how your queen is doing with that. I didn't have any Lasius workers or brood to give them last year so I couldn't make an attempt at keeping them but I plan to this year and was just wondering if a vertically inclined nest would be unsuitable for them (in your opinion).


Mine had trouble climbing smooth surfaces. I can only assume it's a result of her bulk. She does just fine climbing vertically if the surface is course. I don't think a vertical nest would be unsuitable (unless it has flat surfaces), in fact it would be more natural.

Good luck and keep us posted!
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#18 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 20 2018 - 4:24 PM

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Here's a couple pics that I just took. The Lasius Latipes workers are already making up close to half of the total ant population within this colony.



20180420 180816



20180420 180828




It started with roughly 30-35 host workers. A few died off since last fall, so I'd say there's still about 25 left, and over the last couple days 15-20 L. Latipes workers have eclosed. It's amazing how quickly the majority is becoming the minority without even realizing it. What's worse is that they've been duped into aiding in their own demise.
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#19 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 26 2018 - 5:40 PM

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Today I've seemed to make a serious error in judgement. This colony has a mold issue within the foraging area. Follow the link to see the nest I keep them in.

https://tarheelants....-chamber-3-inch

I've tried everything from vinegar to peroxide and it doesn't touch the mold. I scrape it out once per week, but I wanted it gone for good (or as close as possible). I thought that if I plugged the entrance hole to the nest and dumped in some isopropyl alcohol it would do the job. So I went ahead and poured some in and soaked it up with paper towel. I left the tops off the foraging area to dry it out for two hours. Once the alcohol smell was gone I unplugged the nest entrance and came back to check on them 30 minutes later. There must have been some vapor left because my ants are flipping out. Three workers have died, many more are acting weird. They're walking backwards, dragging their antenna on the ground, and falling off the edges when they climb. I fear that the colony will die off, although the queen seems unfazed fortunately.

I've opened the top of the nest and have a fan blowing on it to keep it aired out. I almost didn't post this because I was too embarrassed that I didn't listen to my own common sense, but I figured perhaps the ants will pull through and it might be a learning opportunity for someone else that may be considering trying something similar.

Its been four hours now and only three casualties. I did the same thing to my C. pennsylvanicus. colony and I've got half a dozen dead workers out of about 25. They seem to be struggling a little more than this colony. Anyways, wish me luck folks!

Edit: I posted the link to the nest so you can visualize the setup, not because there is an issue with the nest. I love these formicariums and highly recommend them. My only problem here was a result of my own mistake.

Edited by Jamiesname, April 26 2018 - 5:42 PM.


#20 Offline Jamiesname - Posted April 27 2018 - 3:06 AM

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Good news. I woke up this morning and there aren't any new casualties. Hopefully the worst is over. Still only the three casualties for this colony, but they're still a bit sluggish. They don't look disorientated anymore though, so that's good too.


Apparently some of my C. pennsylvanicus. workers that I thought were dead really weren't. I'm not sure what happened, they were upside down with their legs curled. I guess they were just drunk. Can Isopropyl alcohol have the same effect as ethyl? I know it's highly toxic, but it appears that it made the ants drunk. Anyways, some of them act like they have a major hangover, but out of the six I thought were dead, only two are still there. The other four pulled through.

Edited by Jamiesname, May 3 2018 - 2:25 PM.





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