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CHROMERUST'S ANT FOOD RECIPE AND ANT FEEDING (VIDEO)


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#1 Offline Chromerust - Posted February 10 2015 - 5:11 PM

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I know you guys will be dying to know what is in my ant food and how you can make some, so today I'm going to finally reveal my secret recipe! :yahoo: All my ants love it and accept it readily. I have Pogonomyrmex, Camponotus, Crematogaster, Solenopsis to name a few. I especially like the paste, it is great for test tube feeding, measuring out tiny amounts, and you don't have to worry about your ants getting stuck and drowning.

THERE ARE 3 OPTIONS;

1. LIQUID

Liquid


2. PASTE

Paste


3. CUBES
cubes


THINGS YOU WILL NEED;
1. High Speed Blender
2. Water
3. Canned Chicken (Organic Preferred)
chicken

4. Hummingbird Nectar (Powdered Mix)
Nectar

5. Organic Honey
Honey


RECIPE

  • Open 1 can of chicken and drain. Fill the can with purified water and place in the refrigerator. Drain and repeat several times to remove all the salt (about 1 hour). When it's ready the chicken will taste very bland.
  • Combine 1/2 cup of chicken and 1 cup of purified water into your blender. (1:2 ratio)
  • Add 2 heaping Tablespoons of Hummingbird Nectar.
  • Add 1 heaping Tablespoon of Honey.
  • Blend on highest speed for several minutes until smooth.
  • Feed your ants and refrigerate. This formula can last up to 2 weeks (Freeze extra for longer storage).

To make the paste (preferred), you will also need Modified Food Starch. (It MUST be modified). I get mine from a health food store. It's also known as Clear Gel.

  • Follow the recipe above.
  • Heat up in microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly stir in the modified food starch until it reaches the consistency you like. Don't make it too thick or filling your syringe will be difficult.
  • Keep Refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. (Freeze extra for longer storage.)

To make the cubes, you will need some Agar Agar. I get mine at a local Asian Market.
agar

  • Follow the main recipe above.
  • Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it is very hot. Do not overheat or it will explode all over the place.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of Agar Agar and stir well.
  • Pour a thin layer into a flat container and let cool in the refrigerator.
  • Cut into cubes and refrigerate in air tight container. (Freeze extra for longer storage)

OPTIONAL: I also add a Teaspoon of ReptaBoost. It's loaded with all kinds of Nutrition.

reptaboost2


If you have any question feel free to ask :D


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#2 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 10 2015 - 7:09 PM

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Nice post. I need to mix a little of this stuff up again to give my ants more of a variety. Most every species of ants I've ever had goes nuts over chicken AND honey, neither of which I have given them in a long time. I love byFormica Formula 100, but I have to be honest, some of my ants just won't eat it anymore. I think they just want something else every now and then.


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#3 Offline kevinirvinryann - Posted February 10 2015 - 8:23 PM

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Ill have to try this when I get my ants!

#4 Offline drtrmiller - Posted February 10 2015 - 8:48 PM

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I love byFormica Formula 100...

 

You should submit a report.



#5 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted February 10 2015 - 9:40 PM

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This is clever, but I have one question. How does this paste smell like after a day or two? I like Terry's formulas because they do not rot immediately, leaving odor.



#6 Offline drtrmiller - Posted February 10 2015 - 9:52 PM

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This is clever, but I have one question. How does this paste smell like after a day or two? I like Terry's formulas because they do not rot immediately, leaving odor.

 

Smell may be significant for some people.  From experience, beef and chicken animal products made into ant foods will smell badly.  Fish is the worst, however.

 

However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that Formula diets are not a haphazard amalgam of antkeeping alchemy, judged solely on nutritional response, but rather the result of years of controlled, peer-reviewed, laboratory study, a year in commercial testing, and are judged by the number and weight of pupae raised and worker mortality after being fed the synthetic diet, versus other diets, exclusively, for a period of 8 weeks.

 

That said, based on my own experience feeding animal proteins, I can see this diet working acceptably for S. invicta in the long term, but not for the other species mentioned.  An improvement to this recipe would be the replacement of human-grade chicken with a premium cat food canned chicken, which will naturally have less sodium.

 

Here is a heavily approximated nutritional breakdown of Chromerust's Diet.


Edited by drtrmiller, February 10 2015 - 10:20 PM.


#7 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted February 10 2015 - 10:02 PM

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I did not mean to say that is the only reason I liked it, it is just a huge plus for me.



#8 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 10 2015 - 11:03 PM

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I love byFormica Formula 100...

 

You should submit a report.

 

 

I was going to report this to you. I kind of just decided within the last few days that there is definitely an issue with some species. I filled out the report like you wanted for three species. Some of the questions were not exactly applicable or something I could even answer because of the way I bought it, but I'm sure you got all the info you need.

 

The reason I never thought it was a big deal, is because I know what's in this food, and if the ants aren't eating it, then I really think they just want something else for a while, or maybe they are just constantly full of hummingbird nectar, and that there probably isn't really anything particularly wrong with it. You would imagine they would need some protein some time though.



#9 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 10 2015 - 11:19 PM

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This is clever, but I have one question. How does this paste smell like after a day or two? I like Terry's formulas because they do not rot immediately, leaving odor.

 

When I was basically making the same thing, it never smelled bad before drying up.



#10 Offline drtrmiller - Posted February 10 2015 - 11:23 PM

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I filled out the report like you wanted for three species.

 

 

I still don't have many reports to wade through, but what I instantly saw was that your two Camponotus colonies are almost a year old, and still have less than 50 workers, which is rather unusual.

 

This may be a long shot, but you may want to try feeding them a Camponotus worker or larvae from one of your more successful Camponotus colonies.  Camponotus has a specialist gut bacteria, Blochmannia, to help them obtain certain nutrients.  It is possible something happened to the queen or colony during the founding process that may have killed off or weakened the endosymbionts, or, more likely, that the colonies are simply not genetically fit.  

 

Either way, feeding the problem colonies a worker or larvae from a more successful Camponotus colony should revitalize their gut, in the same way as eating yogurt is helpful to humans.

 

Also, you mention that you do not use the food exactly as directed, in that you keep a ready supply of sweetened liquid available at all times.  Ants need very little protein, which is why Formula Blue 100 is 50% sugar.  It is difficult to impossible to determine the cause of a loss of receptivity when the ants have ad libitum access to multiple food sources which compete with one another.


Edited by drtrmiller, February 11 2015 - 12:09 AM.

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#11 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted February 10 2015 - 11:34 PM

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That is pretty clever... Maybe that is why there is a specific group of fertile Camponotus queens that turn out to be "duds." I know the two Camponotus queens I got from you Drew are fertile, but they act different then a dud, and maybe what Terry is saying. I never heard of that...



#12 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 10 2015 - 11:35 PM

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@drtrmiller

 

The C. semitestaseus was not started from a new queen I caught, but was dug up. I think it might have just a little bit more than 50 workers now. I would have to check my journal to know for sure. It's also got a few majors. Basically all of my Camponotus colonies except for my C. fragilis stopped showing interest in the food. That would be C. vicinus, C. laevigatus, C. semitestaceus, and the unknown species. All three C. fragilis colonies still like the food.



#13 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 10 2015 - 11:36 PM

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That is pretty clever... Maybe that is why there is a specific group of fertile Camponotus queens that turn out to be "duds." I know the two Camponotus queens I got from you Drew are fertile, but they act different then a dud, and maybe what Terry is saying. I never heard of that...

 

Yeah maybe I will try doing what he said. it can't hurt. The thing is the ones that aren't eating his food, did love it at one time.



#14 Offline drtrmiller - Posted February 11 2015 - 12:17 AM

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Take a look at this:

 

Fan, Yongliang; Wernegreen, Jennifer (October 2013). "Can't Take the Heat: High Temperature Depletes Bacterial Endosymbionts of Ants". Microbial ecology 66 (3): 727–733. doi:10.1007/s00248-013-0264-6

 

I'm hosting the PDF file at the link, above.

 

Camponotus stand in strict contrast with Solenopsis, the latter of which loves heat.


Edited by drtrmiller, February 11 2015 - 12:19 AM.


#15 Offline makerunayo - Posted February 11 2015 - 12:29 AM

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Great to see another alternative ant food recipe for reasonable price.  Definitely try it.     



#16 Offline Etherwulf - Posted February 11 2015 - 5:57 AM

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Thanks for sharing. I personally don't use animal protein in my own ant diets largely because of the odor as well as the mold. From experiments, I've found that upon adding meat like chicken, the food goes bad much faster especially if the environment is humid. Furthermore, I use sodium benzoate as a preservative to inhibit mold growth. However, care must be taken in ensuring that the process is carried out in a clean environment with no contamination of ingredients in order to benefit from the use of sodium benzoate.

 

So far, my ants enjoy both Orange V3 (Protein/ Sugar : 2:1) and Green V2 (Protein/ Sugar : 1:3).  I'm cooking Red V1  (Protein/ Sugar : 1:1) now which contains new nutritional supplements in the form of vitamins and whey powder as protein along with a few other additives. Red V1 contains 20% egg white with the difference in protein made up by whey powder. In the future, once I have a mature colony, I aim to record worker mortality and pupae weight. So far, I've been weighing both larvae and pupae but it is often a tricky task to do when the colony is still in a tube. Chilling them helps but switching to a petri dish would make my life easier. Alas, I broke my last one recently so I shall have to buy new ones.


 

#17 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 11 2015 - 8:10 AM

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Maybe it's because the humidity isn't very high here in California, but I've never seen chicken that was given to my ants go bad. All I ever see it do is dry out.



#18 Offline Chromerust - Posted February 11 2015 - 8:40 AM

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There isn't any smell that I noticed. Remember you're only using a little at a time and the leftover food just dries up like dspdrew mentioned. The hummingbird mix contains a preservative and that's why its used. Also, the modified food starch and honey contain preservative properties.

#19 Offline drtrmiller - Posted February 11 2015 - 10:48 AM

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There isn't any smell that I noticed. Remember you're only using a little at a time and the leftover food just dries up like dspdrew mentioned. The hummingbird mix contains a preservative and that's why its used. Also, the modified food starch and honey contain preservative properties.

 

Not all hummingbird mixes contain preservatives.  Ones that do, are likely to contain sugar, color dye, a preservative agent, and an acid.  This one, for example, is lacking the preservative agent. As with soft drinks, the likely preservative agent, sodium benzoate, if present, works best in an acidic environment against certain classes of microorganisms, while being less effective against others.

 

While such a tradeoff may be acceptable in a solution just containing sugar water, when using preservative agents for high-moisture foods rich in proteins, fats, and a wealth of micronutrients, broad spectrum preservatives are required.

 

Further, the efficacy of the preservative agent is determined by its concentration in a solution.  Without knowing the concentration, it is impossible to determine if the supposed ingredient is effectively doing anything more than making you feel good about having used it.

 

Modified food starch and honey do not have any preservative properties in solution.

 

The most common types of modified food starch are made from corn, wheat, potato, and tapioca.  The special manufacturing process that "modifies" the starches only affects their physical working properties, such as allowing them to thicken liquids differently.  There is absolutely no evidence that modified starches act as a preservative, in the same way as there is no evidence that wheat flour and water act as a preservative.

 

Honey is a well-known antiseptic on account of the fact that is is mostly sugar (fructose) with a small concentration of water, which allows it to act as a liquid.  It is not the fructose or the honey that is antiseptic, but the low water concentration.  When more water is added, as anyone who has fed ants with a solution of honey and water can tell you, it quickly becomes a breeding ground for slimy water molds.  As a natural product, honey is a safe harbor for many types of mold spores, some of which can even prove deadly to infants and young children.

 

-

 

While your thinking on why the food doesn't smell is in the ballpark of reality, it's far from a home run.  In fact, as Drew mentioned, the reason why there is likely to be little smell associated with your "food" is because the food, when allowed to dry, will have a high sugar content and a low moisture content, which, as discussed, is an effective preservative combination.

 

Problems will arise when the food is broken into granules and stored, sometimes in moist portions of the nest.  Within a few hours or a few days, depending on temperature and humidity, the user will inevitably have rotten chicken in their formicarium, which absolutely does smell.

 

-

 

Again, the smell issue is a diversion from my chief concerns, which are the continued perpetuation and peddling of the ideas that

 

a) there is a static, invariable relationship between receptivity and biological efficacy or healthfulness;

 

b) "hummingbird nectar" is substantially different from and superior to granulated table sugar; and

 

c) adding ingredients volumetrically, including blends of "vitamin powders," is a reasonable method by which to design a synthetic diet for long-term use in antkeeping.  

 

As someone who has studied and read hundreds of journals on the subjects of receptivity, generally as applied to the pest and baiting industries, diet efficacy and healthfulness, generally as applied to standardized diets designed for laboratory use, and the concepts of colony-level macronutrient regulation, species-dependent nutritional upgrading, and other high-level concepts, I cannot stress enough how important it is that research in hobby diets be conducted pragmatically and decisively.  

 

I understand that your intention may have been to inform the public of a relatively simple solution you discovered to feeding ants a homemade synthetic diet that "works" for you.  Nevertheless, at present, the direction of this thread makes a mockery of drastically oversimplifies the hard science that goes into ant nutrition the development of synthetic ant diets.  But it doesn't have to be that way:

  1. Educate yourself by perusing the multitudes of journals by scientists worldwide on the aforementioned subjects, paying specific attention to the methods used by which to prepare the diets as well as those used to measure the outcomes.
     
  2. Start by obtaining as many individual ingredients, rather than pre-blended ingredients, to make your test diets.  For example, rather than buying mystery hummingbird powder, make your own with sucrose, sodium benzoate, ascorbic acid, and whatever food dye you like.  It is critically important to maintain 100% control over your ingredients and measurements, and to use a gram scale to measure everything out.
     
  3. Meticulously record your diets and observations over a period of weeks.  Numbers are generally more useful than adjectives.
     
  4. Share your findings with the community, and prosper.

On a related note, and in closing, Etherwulf should be commended on his detailed and uncompromising approach to formulating his diets—even if he did have a pretty good starting point from which to base them ;~)  If I had one criticism, it would be that he needs a dedicated research thread to detail his methods and observations.


Edited by drtrmiller, February 12 2015 - 8:02 AM.

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#20 Offline dspdrew - Posted February 11 2015 - 11:53 AM

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I was waiting for this post.

 

Let me ask you something Terry. Knowing everything you know about Chromerust's ant food (which is merely chicken, hummingbird nectar, and honey), on a 1-10 scale, what would you rate it overall across-the-board in all categories?






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