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Termite Setups

termite setup keeping

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#1 Offline Nare - Posted July 28 2018 - 5:55 AM

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I think it's about time we have a common repository of termite keeping setups. If you have any interesting designs or setups for keeping your termites, or even just ideas, please post below.


Test Tubes

Make a standard test tube setup like you might for a queen, but only fill the tube maybe half full of water. Fill the chamber with cardboard or whatever material suits you best, make sure that the material touches the wet cotton. Put a plug on the open end of your tube - in my experience, an airtight plug seems to be okay for up to a week, perhaps longer.

Pros: If you keep ants, and you have tubes, you can easily make this setup. It's also really easy to view the termites - they seem to dig into the cardboard a bit, but can also chill near the glass.

Cons: Termites may start tunneling through the wet cotton - mine have been working at it for about 3 weeks and made only a little bit of progress, but it could become a problem if they tunnel all the way through into the reservoir.

v9XrF8v.jpg

 

 

Alternative Test Tube (Untested)

Stick a wooden dowel down one side of a test tube, wet cotton entirely, squeeze out, and shove into the tube. Continue until the tube is full. Remove the dowel. You should have a test tube full of compact, slightly moist cotton, and a tunnel down the side of the tube that termites can live in.

Pros: Normal test tube pros, and avoids the reservoir problem of a normal test tube setup.

Cons: Hasn't really been tested out. Seem to work fine for now, but it could fail anytime. May occasionally need to be watered as well.

91gDvAL.jpg

9HkAtwg.jpg

 

Jam Jars

Take a jam jar, and put some moist cellulose into it (cardboard, newspaper, wood, whatever). If you're keeping subterranean termites, you're going to want to put a thin layer of soil on the bottom of the jar. Make sure that no wood or cardboard are touching the lid, so that the termites can't climb out. You can put a sealed lid on, you'll probably want to air out the jar once in a while though. Important: If you do have wood inside, ventilate the lid with a pin, to make air holes. Wood can rot, create methane, and kill your termites.

Pros: A more naturalistic setup than the test tube, more space as well. By having no reservoir, there's no risk of the termites killing themselves. Also, it's pretty easy to make, even easier than the test tube setup, as jars are probably more common than test tubes.

Cons: More work than the test tube setup (still SUPER low maintenance), you have to air it out and ensure that it's not too moist. As well, you control how moist it is, if you overdo it, the termites may die. As well, some glass jars may be difficult to observe through, and termites may tunnel in the soil or hide under the wood.

64lMZEr.jpg

mjgQpHg.jpg

 

If anyone has any suggestions for improving this setup, please tell me - I'm in need of a solution to the cotton problem.


Edited by Nare, August 25 2018 - 6:04 PM.

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I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...


#2 Offline sirjordanncurtis - Posted July 28 2018 - 7:13 AM

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Someone made a post about using the tips of gloves to cover cotton as a way of preventing mold occurring on the cotton. I think that would work for preventing tunneling and cotton pulling as well.


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#3 Offline Nare - Posted July 28 2018 - 12:08 PM

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Someone made a post about using the tips of gloves to cover cotton as a way of preventing mold occurring on the cotton. I think that would work for preventing tunneling and cotton pulling as well.

I chatted about this with some others, I think unfortunately the termites would just be able to chew right through the glove. On that note, I've been thinking about alternative materials that could be used, but I've had no luck yet.


I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...


#4 Offline CoolColJ - Posted July 31 2018 - 3:17 AM

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Aquarium filter wool is a lot tougher than cotton and won't mold, maybe try that

 

But it won't wick water, but will humidify


Edited by CoolColJ, July 31 2018 - 3:17 AM.

  • Nare likes this

Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#5 Offline Nare - Posted July 31 2018 - 12:43 PM

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Aquarium filter wool is a lot tougher than cotton and won't mold, maybe try that

 

But it won't wick water, but will humidify

Eh. I don't know if just humidity will do the trick. My setups rely on the cotton wicking moisture into the cardboard. But we won't know until we try, so I'll keep that in mind.


I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...


#6 Offline Major - Posted July 31 2018 - 1:00 PM

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I don't know too much about termite keeping but I know a couple members on this forum keep their termites in large petri dishes with some sort of moist substrate. Wood, cardboard, paper, anything moist and not to tough that you can get your hands on. Put a moist cotton ball in the middle for water and humidity, but still continue to hydrate the substrate.
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#7 Offline CoolColJ - Posted July 31 2018 - 4:29 PM

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This is mu current setup for my Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean termites

 

Corrugated cardboard cut to fit, and placed at bottom of a 55x15mm petri dish.

Wet cotton wool in the middle.

 

It allows them to run around and escape bad areas if needed.

But I made it far too wet, so leaving lid off for now.

Excessive humidity and mold killed them last time, but I have springtails I can add in now

 

Should I add soil under the cardboard?

 

click to enlarge


Edited by CoolColJ, July 31 2018 - 4:30 PM.

  • Nare likes this

Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#8 Offline Nare - Posted July 31 2018 - 6:28 PM

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This is mu current setup for my Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean termites

 

Corrugated cardboard cut to fit, and placed at bottom of a 55x15mm petri dish.

Wet cotton wool in the middle.

 

It allows them to run around and escape bad areas if needed.

But I made it far too wet, so leaving lid off for now.

Excessive humidity and mold killed them last time, but I have springtails I can add in now

 

Should I add soil under the cardboard?

 

click to enlarge

The subterranean termites that I'm keeping sort of need soil, I have some nesting purely in wood, others, just in the soil, but ultimately, soil is always provided. I have no idea if this is the case for Australian termites, but I don't think it'd hurt. Maybe I'd sterilize it first (I tried microwaving soil to sterilize it today, don't know how well it worked), or I'd add some springtails. Termites might eat mold, but I'm not certain.


I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...


#9 Offline CoolColJ - Posted July 31 2018 - 8:04 PM

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I have some of the dirt/substrate that their original nest was made of under the rock I collected them from sitting in a container.

It feels pretty dry. So I am most likely over hydrating them

 

In a way most of the ants we keep are subterranean yet they live just fine in test tubes and containers, so I figure termites are not that much different


Edited by CoolColJ, July 31 2018 - 8:04 PM.

Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#10 Offline CoolColJ - Posted August 23 2018 - 7:19 PM

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Lab style setups - looks like corrugated cardboard wound into a big bundle

 


Edited by CoolColJ, August 24 2018 - 2:58 PM.

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Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#11 Offline CoolColJ - Posted August 23 2018 - 7:26 PM

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more setups -

 

looks like Kraft paper (brown paper used for grocery bags) is good

 

http://www.kennethno...rmite-farm.html

 

http://www.kennethno...arm-photos.html


Edited by CoolColJ, August 23 2018 - 7:29 PM.

  • Nare likes this

Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#12 Offline CoolColJ - Posted August 23 2018 - 7:36 PM

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helpful info

 

https://www.research...the_laboratory2

 

 

In my experience, there could be a several reasons why your termites are dying so quickly. If you can describe what your dead termites look like (piled or distributed? dry? "normal"-looking but dead? gooey puddles?), we might be able to pinpoint what exactly is going on. Also, if you can find out the species, or at least genus, we can help you a bit more with their specific requirements. Here are some possible problems and solutions.

 

1) damage to the termites during collection. Little breaks in the cuticle from rough handling, sharp forceps, or being shaken with debris during collection can make them lose fatal amounts of hemolymph. I usually use soft, blunt forceps when transferring termites. Damaged termites will often be eaten by their nestmates or piled up away from the heathy termites.

 

2) humidity. As already mentioned, with too low of humidity they dry out (abdomens flatten and then they die) but too much moisture will also kill them (they will look sad and droopy, then become oozy gooey globs). When keeping termites in petri dishes, I line the dish with filter paper and add just a few drops of water -- enough that the paper is moist and all the water is absorbed by the paper. You shouldn't see any water in the dish. I keep the dishes inside a plastic box with a lid, and line the box with moist paper towel or put a damp sponge in one corner. You're aiming for somewhere around 50-60% humidity, but different species have different tolerances.

 

3) temperature. They will be happiest at 25-28 degrees C. Air conditioned labs are usually bad for termites (temperature and humidity-wise) but putting them outside is also dangerous -- if any sun hits their box it becomes an oven and they all cook. Options for handling their temperature requirements might be: putting them (in their petri dish in a box) in an incubator (like for bacteria) set at 25C or 28C, keeping them in a room with a steady temperature in the 25-28C range and away from any windows (inside a cupboard is fine), or keeping them in a shade house, screen house, or well-shaded, well-ventilated workshop. In the field, I have also kept termites for a couple of days in dishes inside a cooler (no ice of course) set in the shade; maybe that would also work for a week. Ambient (outdoors) temperature is usually alright for them as long as they are kept moist but not wet and their container can't heat up. You'll check them often enough that air supply shouldn't be a problem. Keep them on a water or oil trap if there are ants around.

 

4) group size and composition. As others have mentioned, termites cannot live alone and isolated individuals will die quickly. Even in species that are easy to keep without their queen and king, 20 is about the minimum group size. Exactly how many you can keep in a 90mm petri dish depends on the species and their body size. If you find soldiers when you collect the termites (they are rare in some species, numerous in others), keeping a couple in each group can also be good. Soldiers generally rely on the workers to feed them, so they can make the workers hungrier and more likely to eat the filter paper sooner. BUT, a group of all or mostly soldiers will die fairly quickly, so you don't want too many. Depending on the species, soldiers have bigger, heavier mandibles, or blocky, sclerotized heads, or a spout on the top of their head that shoots glue. If you are disturbing a foraging site, the workers will most likely hide and the soldiers go on the defensive, so if you are just grabbing termites and not looking at the caste, you may have ended up with too many soldiers. If that is the problem, the next time you collect termites you should take a piece of wood where they are actively working (eating) and shake or tap the termites out into a container, then break up the wood to get the rest.


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Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#13 Offline Nare - Posted August 28 2018 - 6:47 PM

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I figured this was worth it's own post, but I've found another, probably better test tube setup.

Alternative Test Tube

Take a test tube, using a dowel, shove a square of toilet paper (From an unused roll), to the very bottom. Pour a tiny bit of water in so that it's wet. Place another square of toilet paper in, do not wet it. Repeat this about 2/3 of the way up the tube. Then, do the same, but with a dowel shoved down the side to create a little burrow for the termites.

Pros: No reservoir for your ants to drown in, much easier to shove toilet paper in a tube than cotton (I've cracked a tube trying to force cotton down), doesn't waste as much cotton, molds more slowly? (My cotton setup molded pretty fast.) Easy for termite to dig through.

Cons: Will need to be watered, may mold, still untested.


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I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...


#14 Offline CoolColJ - Posted August 28 2018 - 7:17 PM

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Apparently the poop from termites is anti fungal and bacterial :)

 

So mold probbaly isn't an issue if the termite can reach it


  • Nare likes this

Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#15 Offline Nare - Posted August 28 2018 - 7:40 PM

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Apparently the poop from termites is anti fungal and bacterial :)

 

So mold probbaly isn't an issue if the termite can reach it

It may have been because of some deaths. Their cuticle breaks easily, they could have had a scrape during moving, and bled to death in the tube. There was greenish mold or something. It was only 1 setup though, so I assume the toilet paper ones will be fine.


I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...


#16 Offline Nare - Posted September 15 2018 - 2:59 PM

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Figured I should share this. It's essentially the toilet paper test tube setup.

 


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I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...


#17 Offline CoolColJ - Posted September 21 2018 - 1:30 AM

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Been thinking - instead of re weting a cotton in a petri dish setup, let it dry out and place a new one in.

I assume the termites will move onto the new wet one over time.

Then remove the old one, or leave it, and alternate wetting bewteen the various cotton wool.

 

This can mitigate mold issues on the cotton


  • Nare likes this

Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#18 Offline CoolColJ - Posted October 25 2018 - 2:03 PM

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Judging by this pic, taken at a university. It just looks like a sheet of carboard in open air, that this pair has mated and laid eggs on

 

DajNwrDWkAIkmq6.jpg:large


Edited by CoolColJ, October 25 2018 - 2:04 PM.

  • Nare likes this

Current ant colonies -
1) Opisthopsis Rufithorax (strobe ant), Melophorus Sp1. (furnace ant) red and black, Melophorus sp2. black and orange
Lots of Pheidole colonies....
Polyrhachis rufifemur, Rhytidoponera aspera gamergate colony
Journal = http://www.formicult...ra-iridomyrmex/

Nasutitermes fumigatus/dixoni subterranean pet/feeder termite colony journal = http://www.formicult...ournal/?p=96808
Heterotermes cf brevicatena termite pet/feeder journal = http://www.formicult...feeder-journal/


#19 Offline Nare - Posted October 25 2018 - 2:30 PM

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Judging by this pic, taken at a university. It just looks like a sheet of carboard in open air, that this pair has mated and laid eggs on

 

DajNwrDWkAIkmq6.jpg:large

I assume it's a piece of cardboard in a petri dish - I doubt they'd feel comfortable being out in the open. When I get dishes, and have some spare termites, I should try something like that.


I keep termites - check them out! I've also made a guide...






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