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AntsBC's Parasitic Formica fossaceps Journal (Updated, Monday, July 15, 2019: Larvae Stage!)

antsbc parasitic formica formica fossaceps formica obscuripes formica rufa group journal

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#1 Offline AntsBC - Posted September 15 2018 - 4:20 PM

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Hey everybody,

 

After keeping this colony for around 2-3 months, I have finally decided to start a Journal on them!

 

Before I begin, let me give a little background on this species. Formica obscuripes is a socially parasitic species in the Formica rufa species group. They are socially parasitic to ants in the Formica fusca group and apparently sometimes their own species too. They are best known for their massive mounds that colonies build in the wild. This species is highly polymorphic and although they only have one technical caste, I have seen some pretty huge majors on wild nests. In the wild, there is always one big pupae storage in the middle of the mounds, and there is a big colony of these guys near me so if I ever want to brood boost this colony it would be pretty easy although penetrating a mound of these guys is a huge pain as they are VERY aggressive. 

 

I caught this queen while I was at a camp up in the boonies about 2-3 months ago, in June if I recall correctly. Pretty sure this species usually flies in late April/early May so the timing of the year kind of threw me off ID wise. When I first caught her I was positive she wasn't Formica obscuripes because she didn't really show resemblance to the Formica obscuripes alates I see flying at the mound near me, and she's only 6mm long. Most alates of this species are 10-11mm. After going through the entire list of species and keys for the Formica rufa group and not finding a match, quite a few times might I add, I finally admitted defeat and agreed she's Formica obscuripes with all the people that had been saying that she was Formica obscuripes the whole time.

 

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The queen when I first caught her

 

So now I'll get into getting her colony started. After a few attempts of giving her pupae of different Formica in the fusca group I realized that she was unable to open cocoons.

 

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My queen with dying pupae

 

Knowing that the queen couldn't open pupae, I released her into a queen-less Formica pacifica colony that was living in a naturalistic setup at the time. Some of the workers apparently wanted the queen to become their queen and some disagreed, so eventually, I took the queen out of the setup in fears that the workers were going to kill her as the aggression level was rising. What I decided to do instead was get two callow workers and around 10 pupae from the same colony and offer it to the queen in a outworld that I connected to the test tube I had her in. She almost immediately ran into the outworld and ran up to the workers. It seemed one worker didn't trust the queen and was scared while the other was interested in the queen in a good way. Eventually what happened was, the one worker joined/united with the queen while the other worker still stayed away from the two. Later the worker joined the newly founded "colony" and they started to open pupae.

 

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For a while, the newly founded colony didn't want to enter the test tube. Eventually, I got them to move by using airflow to disturb them. This picture shows them in the outworld before they moved into the test tube.

 

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The colony after I got them to move into the test tube. They had a lot of pupae back then, but only 2 or 3 of those actually became workers. I'm still not sure where all the pupae went to this day. Most likely, the colony ate them.

 

Currently, they have about 10 workers and no eggs. I don't expect the queen to lay until after hibernation. I'm really hoping she's fertile as I would love to start a colony of these guys. I just moved them into a new test tube today. here's a short video of them in the new one after the move: 

 

 

Thanks for reading this gigantic post lol.


Edited by AntsBC, July 15 2019 - 8:39 AM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

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#2 Offline AntsBC - Posted October 16 2018 - 3:32 PM

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Well, my suspicions about her species turned out to be right after all!

 

With a little help from Anthony, I was able to clarify that this queen isn't Formica obscuripes after all. She is only 6mm long, and that is the main reason why she isn't.

 

Its actually quite funny how I figured out what species she actually is though. A few weeks back Anthony was showing me pictures of obscuripes-like Formica queens, and he showed me a picture of a Formica fossaceps queen. The queen instantly made me think of my queen, and right away I knew I had potentially just found the mystery species of my queen (as I still wasn't sold on my queen being F. obscuripes). I looked at keys and everything matched perfectly with the queen. Then came the moment of truth, size. I went over to bug-guide and slowly began to scroll down the page. Then, my eyes saw it: "queens 6 mm"! PERFECT MATCH. I went over to AntWiki to clarify and they said the same thing, around 6mm. The final thing to check was location. According to AntMaps, Formica fossaceps isn't present in BC. When I saw this my heart was instantly broken, but then came the silver lining: they are present in Alberta! This means that my queen could still easily be F. fossaceps, as it is likely that Myrmecologists just haven't found F. fossaceps in BC yet, which means If this queen is indeed fossaceps I was the first one to find them here! I honestly don't know what else she could be. I went through BC's list of Formica sp, and the closest I got to the queen was F. obscuripes which is why I have been calling her obscuripes for a while. Anyways, until I get final clarification from higgins, I'm going to be calling this queen Formica cf. fossaceps, as every key I have looked at match up with her, including size. The only red light is location, which is why I'm going to have to email Higgins before I can officially call her F. fossaceps.

 

And as for this colony, they are doing pretty good. Their gaster's are plump with food stored for hibernation.

I put them into a semi hibernation state a few weeks ago. I only feed them a little bit and they are only checked up on once every 2 weeks. I'm probably going to officially lock them up for hibernation in mid to late November. 

 

Next update on these guys will come in spring, fingers crossed she's fertile!!!

 

Here's a video I took a few weeks back:

 

 

And some photos (My camera was having trouble focusing today but I'll send the photo's anyways):

 

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Edited by AntsBC, October 21 2018 - 7:30 PM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

Formica ravida (Parasitic sp.)
Formica pacifica 
Lasius americanus 
Manica hunteri

 

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#3 Offline AntsBC - Posted January 22 2019 - 8:23 PM

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Update: January 22, 2019

 

I took this colony out of hibernation today. The colony looks pretty healthy and no hibernation deaths have occurred. I'm excited to see the queen's first generations and what the workers will look like. Hopefully, with photos of the workers, I will be able to get a finalized ID on her. For now, I am still calling her Formica cf. fossaceps. I'm guessing the queen will start producing eggs in April, although you never know. Anyways, I am very excited to see this colony go through their first official season. 

 

My photos aren't the greatest as the workers were huddling over the queen, but I was able to get a few good shots of her. Here they are:

 

 hH7SLu7lwn796PqcZiXZP9Y4QAq5p3nUCw20CReDlGv3rkfoZ_o7dOqghBsN6R6MV0s1wIWnnGMmYr0f
Ahsx70UYb_-JWOVev61CJRn6B63zV3jKumdM4beh
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A few cropped pictures of the queen:
 
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Thanks for reading!

Edited by AntsBC, June 19 2019 - 4:10 PM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

Formica ravida (Parasitic sp.)
Formica pacifica 
Lasius americanus 
Manica hunteri

 

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#4 Offline Karma - Posted January 22 2019 - 10:19 PM

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Hahaha quite the interesting story behind this colony. It really annoys me that many sources say a ton of different species exist in Alberta and BC separately, even though we practically share the same landscape and climate around the border. Same with the borders of Alberta and Montana. I have seen a ton of ants in Alberta and BC that aren't declared by ant maps or any other ant database.


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#5 Offline AntsBC - Posted January 23 2019 - 2:35 PM

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Hahaha quite the interesting story behind this colony. It really annoys me that many sources say a ton of different species exist in Alberta and BC separately, even though we practically share the same landscape and climate around the border. Same with the borders of Alberta and Montana. I have seen a ton of ants in Alberta and BC that aren't declared by ant maps or any other ant database.

 

If you are making what you believe to be discoveries I would suggest taking photos/specimens and sending them to a local Myrmecologist. I know a BC Myrmecologist, Dr. Higgins, and I bet he would be interested. His email is rhiggins@tru.ca . Chances are the spp. you believe to be different spp. are actually the same as some of the other spp. in the province and they are already documented, although you could be right, I haven't seen them.


Edited by AntsBC, January 23 2019 - 2:55 PM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

Formica ravida (Parasitic sp.)
Formica pacifica 
Lasius americanus 
Manica hunteri

 

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#6 Offline Karma - Posted January 23 2019 - 9:13 PM

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Hahaha quite the interesting story behind this colony. It really annoys me that many sources say a ton of different species exist in Alberta and BC separately, even though we practically share the same landscape and climate around the border. Same with the borders of Alberta and Montana. I have seen a ton of ants in Alberta and BC that aren't declared by ant maps or any other ant database.

 

If you are making what you believe to be discoveries I would suggest taking photos/specimens and sending them to a local Myrmecologist. I know a BC Myrmecologist, Dr. Higgins, and I bet he would be interested. His email is rhiggins@tru.ca . Chances are the spp. you believe to be different spp. are actually the same as some of the other spp. in the province and they are already documented, although you could be right, I haven't seen them.

 

 

Hahaha well I'd love to call them "discoveries" but I think that would be overselling it. I assume it is just known that ants most likely cross over borders frequently but spending time updating all that information all the time would be pointless unless it is a major migration. For example, there are a few Camponotus species that exist in BC but not in Alberta however most of these ants are found in forests so the odds of crossovers on the border are probably likely. Thank you for the reference though, if I see anything major and am absolutely positive about it, I will definitely contact Dr. Higgins.



#7 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted March 23 2019 - 6:10 PM

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Uuuuuuuuppppppddddddaaaaaatttteeeee?

#8 Offline AntsBC - Posted May 24 2019 - 9:31 AM

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Big Update: Friday, May 24, 2019

 

Today, I am very happy to announce that.. we have eggs!!!!!  :yahoo: 

 

She has a batch of around five at the moment. Hopefully, she will lay some more, as her gaster is definitely nice and bloated right now!

 

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--------------------------------------------------------------

 

With that exciting news out of the way, now I'll get into some of the more boring journaling notes:

 

At the beginning of May, I connected the colonies' test tube to a outworld. Then, I introduced a bottle cap filled with honey and a bunch of dirt to the outworld. Since success for rufa group Formica is closely related to their environment, I figured some dirt might help the queen feel more homely in her test tube. It has also been proven that ants with constant access to carbohydrates do much better than those without, so that is why I gave them the honey depositor.

 

The ants began to re-position the dirt after about three days. They created a little hill that makes moving in and out of their test tube easier:

 

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After about a week of being in this new setup, the queen started to lay eggs. The whole colony is highly reactive to when I check on them now, as basically all the host workers (and even sometimes the queen) run into their outworld like chickens without heads. There seems to be a designated egg carrier, too, because whenever I check on them a worker is always carrying the eggs in her mouth. 

 

This photo shows the "egg carrier" running around in the outworld after I exposed their test tube to check on them. Apparently, when the nest is exposed, she feels the eggs will be safer in the outworld.

 

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Anyways, I'm very excited for this colony! Fingers crossed those eggs will make it to worker stage! 

 

And here's some photos of the queen and the host workers who haven't fled to the outworld, haha:

 

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Edited by AntsBC, June 19 2019 - 4:13 PM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

Formica ravida (Parasitic sp.)
Formica pacifica 
Lasius americanus 
Manica hunteri

 

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#9 Offline AntsBC - Posted June 6 2019 - 9:23 AM

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Photo Update: Thursday, June 6, 2019

 
She has laid more eggs!:
 
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I absolutely love her colors, too!:
 
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It shouldn't be long until the eggs turn into larva. Her egg batch is definitely growing.

Edited by AntsBC, June 19 2019 - 4:12 PM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

Formica ravida (Parasitic sp.)
Formica pacifica 
Lasius americanus 
Manica hunteri

 

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#10 Offline AntsBC - Posted June 19 2019 - 3:55 PM

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Update, Wednesday, June 19, 2019

 
This colony has been progressing nicely. They have a lot of eggs/small larva at the moment. I'm going to give them a ton of protein in the next little while, so hopefully they can get their first generation born soon.
 
Here's some photos:
 
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1UYrI7osXJc_EwK7SvIypO-QYWz1LHl16HDhK6mM-oo9TwkaaPOWOFbzz3kwfC1xCEIvI5sYlq9IsgZo

Edited by AntsBC, June 20 2019 - 9:38 AM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

Formica ravida (Parasitic sp.)
Formica pacifica 
Lasius americanus 
Manica hunteri

 

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#11 Offline CatsnAnts - Posted June 19 2019 - 3:59 PM

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Congrats! :D It’s always exciting to raise parasitic species, and so rewarding when it finally yields a colony!
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5 queen Temnothorax ambiguus (founding)
11 queen Temnothorax curvispinosus (founding)
1 queen Colobopsis mississippiensis (founding)
1 queen Colobopsis impressa (founding)
1 queen Lasius interjectus (with 30 host workers)
x3 1 queen Camponotus subbarbatus (founding)
1 queen Strumigebys pilinasis (colony of about 30 workers)
1 queen Ponera pennsylvanica (founding)
x2 1 queen Pheidole bicarinata (founding)
1 queen Temnothorax curvispinosus (~170 workers) ... also have 2 termite colonies.

#12 Offline AntsBC - Posted July 15 2019 - 8:35 AM

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Update, Monday, July 15, 2019

 
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(Not sure why the photo proportions are off... open the photos in a new tab to see the accurate dimensions)

Edited by AntsBC, July 15 2019 - 8:38 AM.

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Formica fossaceps (Parasitic sp.)

Formica ravida (Parasitic sp.)
Formica pacifica 
Lasius americanus 
Manica hunteri

 

Instagram // YouTube 






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