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Lasius Neoniger - Western Massachusetts

lasius neoniger massachusetts

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#1 Offline Scherme - Posted April 2 2019 - 11:15 AM

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I walked outside the morning of Saturday September 8th, 2018 and something small landed on my shoulder. 
An alate. I had assumed, with what little knowledge I had, that it was female. 
 
I immediately turned around to go hunting for the test tubes I had randomly dispersed throughout the drawers of my house. They were just evidence of my many failed attempts to hunt a queen. Keeping an eye on my shoulder, I witnessed her scratch her wings off. Into a test tube she went, and I stepped back out the door armed with several more tubes. Scanning the sky, they were everywhere. I followed a few over towards a large mound of top soil I had delivered several months back. Several landed on the pile, dispatched their wings and began poking around. I couldn't believe what was happening, and all my test tubes were quickly occupied. I was able to scrounged up several more test tubes and went straight back to the pile. I focused more broadly on the pile, it was glittering with tumbling ant wings. I filled a total of 8 test tubes. 
 
I completed their setups with fresh water and cotton, but now where to put them? I knew they needed to hibernate, and several sources suggested an unheated basement. I lined a cardboard tray with some crumpled paper towels to prevent the test tubes from rolling around, covered the whole thing with a black scarf and tucked it away on a shelf in the basement. To keep myself from constantly peeking, I binged on every article and video I could find for several weeks, learning they were most likely Lasius Neoniger queens.
 
I kept an eye on my artificial founding chambers over the next couple months. Every time I lifted the cover, I could see they were all still alive though not very active. In early February I transferred them all into new tubes with fresh water as most were running low. I researched more in depth into hibernation, getting as specific as I could about genus and location. The temperature of my basement, although unheated, was still too high for what most considered appropriate hibernation temperatures. I began to worried that keeping them in mid 50's Fahrenheit was a mistake. 
 
I moved them them upstairs into warmer temperatures in the middle of March and set a reminder in my calendar to check in on Saturday March 23rd, 2019. At this point I was able to confirm 2/8 had laid eggs. Potentially a third. They are really hard to see, and I am a terrible photographer so forget about macro photography. This might change. I can see myself wanting to improve the quality of my ant photography. 
 
At this point I have a formicarium setup, although I realize even if I do get workers, these colonies might not even be big enough this year to introduce them into the setup I have. I promised my uncle a spare colony from the 8, not sure what to do with any others at this point. We are meeting in a couple days to go over details. After that I will post about my future plans for my colonies. 
 
These were the best images I could get of the 2.
Lasius Neoniger Queen 2
The small pile just above her head.
Lasius Neoniger Queen 1
Even harder to see, but I can make out the eggs by the way they distort and reflect light. 

Edited by Scherme, April 3 2019 - 8:26 AM.

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Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#2 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 3 2019 - 4:29 AM

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Great story! I wish you good luck with the queens. I'd love to find some of these queens, but all I ever find are parasitic Lasius that I'm not interested in bothering with just yet.


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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#3 Offline Joehostile85 - Posted April 3 2019 - 5:08 AM

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Nicely written, it felt like reading a very short book. I think your basement may have been warmer than you thought. I don’t think queens will lay eggs at 12.8C. Regardless of the exact temperature they certainly don’t lay eggs while in diapause.

Sine your queens did lay eggs it’s clear the temperature wasn’t low enough to cause them to enter diapause. In that case if they were my queens I would offer them sugar water and a fruit fly/cricket leg. This species wouldn’t normally feed during the founding stage, but that assumes they entered diapause for the winter and wouldn’t require food during that period. Your queens still have about 1 - 2 months before they have foraging workers as well.

Edited by Joehostile85, April 3 2019 - 5:09 AM.

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#4 Offline Scherme - Posted April 3 2019 - 8:21 AM

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Nicely written, it felt like reading a very short book. I think your basement may have been warmer than you thought. I don’t think queens will lay eggs at 12.8C. Regardless of the exact temperature they certainly don’t lay eggs while in diapause.

Sine your queens did lay eggs it’s clear the temperature wasn’t low enough to cause them to enter diapause. In that case if they were my queens I would offer them sugar water and a fruit fly/cricket leg. This species wouldn’t normally feed during the founding stage, but that assumes they entered diapause for the winter and wouldn’t require food during that period. Your queens still have about 1 - 2 months before they have foraging workers as well.

After rereading my entry, I found I forgot to mention that I moved them upstairs into warmer temperatures in the middle of March, and there were no eggs, After a little while in warmer temperatures is when i discovered the eggs. 

 

I guess it still wouldn't hurt to offer the food, if it gets rejected I will just have to keep watch and remove it before it spoils. 

 

I also didn't accurately measure basement temps until we were out of the coldest part of the year, this is when I started to explore the details of hibernation. 


Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#5 Offline LearningAntz - Posted April 3 2019 - 10:50 AM

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Nicely written, it felt like reading a very short book. I think your basement may have been warmer than you thought. I don’t think queens will lay eggs at 12.8C. Regardless of the exact temperature they certainly don’t lay eggs while in diapause.

Sine your queens did lay eggs it’s clear the temperature wasn’t low enough to cause them to enter diapause. In that case if they were my queens I would offer them sugar water and a fruit fly/cricket leg. This species wouldn’t normally feed during the founding stage, but that assumes they entered diapause for the winter and wouldn’t require food during that period. Your queens still have about 1 - 2 months before they have foraging workers as well.

There actually are strange little exceptions. Started hibernating my Formica and Lasius queens in November at 4C and earlier in March I found that a few Formica and Lasius queens had laid eggs despite the cold temperature.


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#6 Offline TennesseeAnts - Posted April 3 2019 - 1:32 PM

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I found that same thing happened to me with L. neoniger and F. pacifica! They laid in 50 degree weather!
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#7 Offline Scherme - Posted April 24 2019 - 9:22 AM

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I jumped the gun slightly when I purchased the Lasius Hybrid Nest 2.0 gear pack from Antscanada. I was very excited and couldn't wait to have a setup ready for that eventual moving day.

 

I did not realize how far off moving day actually was. 

 

Either way the pack came with some great gear and it is not like it will go bad. 

 

Once a test tube setup becomes too crowded my plan is to simply use the test tube portals that I received in my AC gear pack. They allow up to 4 test tubes to be connected to a central hub.

I could have water and sugar solution in 2 of the tubes and feed protein through the access in the top.

 

I didn't initially plan for P. Imparis queens or to want Camponotus P. either but thankfully I have seen many DIY formicariums and cheaper pre fabbed ones I could use for additional colonies, although I am very fond of the quality of the AC nests. 

 

I purchased a cheap white plastic shelving unit that fits the AC nest and outworld nicely and supplies/equipment on the lower shelves. I figure a bead of hot glue around the base of the nest and outworld would keep everything secure yet removable if need be. I purchased a goose neck clip-on lamp with a low wattage LED full spectrum bulb that I can focus on the outworld for light without the risk of increased heat. I plan on doing some live plants in the outworld as well but nothing is set in stone. 

I will update with a picture of this setup. 


Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#8 Offline TennesseeAnts - Posted April 24 2019 - 11:14 AM

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Great story! I wish you good luck with the queens. I'd love to find some of these queens, but all I ever find are parasitic Lasius that I'm not interested in bothering with just yet.


All I ever find are L. umbratus and L. claviger.

#9 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 13 2019 - 6:40 PM

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Any updates on this?

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#10 Offline Scherme - Posted June 7 2019 - 12:34 PM

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My Lasius queens are doing well, although slowly running out of water.

 

Most of them have eggs and one of them is ahead of the rest with a batch a pupa.

I think the AC is keeping the temp low enough to slow down egg developement, but atm its either that or baking in the attic. 

I should probably label them or something. 

 

For the most part I am just leaving them be, while slightly worrying about their dwindling water supply.

 

One was completely out of water, so I setup a portal setup to another tube that has water but she is very stubborn and will not move. I hate forcing these mommas to move their eggs but I didn't allow enough water in their second setups to last apparently.

 

I am debating trying to get a long syringe to stab through the cotton to add more water. Apparently I did not stuff the cotton correctly either because it is not getting sucked to the back of the tubes as the water leaves. 

 

So for now they sit in dark until I see her first workers eclose - maybe Ill snap a pic of the pupa this weekend as they are beautiful. I did notice that she moved the pupa further away from the wet cotton which is interesting. 

 

- if you read my post in the Mass anting thread, then yes.. this does indicate I caught a C. Pennsylvanicus yay!


Edited by Scherme, June 7 2019 - 12:35 PM.

Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#11 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 7 2019 - 1:15 PM

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Oh, man. Still no workers? I would crank that AC down. You’ll save money, the planet, and quite possibly your colony.
I’m way south of you, and I barely have AC running.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#12 Offline Scherme - Posted June 7 2019 - 4:59 PM

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my wife is pregnant and its been in the 80's , the AC doesn't get into our bedroom very well :( Ill see if I can move them somewhere else.


Edited by Scherme, June 7 2019 - 4:59 PM.

Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#13 Offline Scherme - Posted June 7 2019 - 5:06 PM

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I read it could take about 2-3 months for the first workers from eggs. I noticed the eggs at the end of march so it seems to fit the timeline. I just made room in our closet which is slightly warmer so hopefully that speeds things up. 


Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

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Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#14 Offline BeginnerAntKeeper - Posted June 22 2019 - 10:27 PM

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Update?

#15 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 23 2019 - 12:17 PM

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My AC crapped out, so my ants are really happy. 87 degrees in my kitchen.

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#16 Offline Scherme - Posted June 25 2019 - 9:25 AM

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UPDATE: I've failed on 2 fronts. P. Imparis and C. Pennsylvanicus. - really humbled by those experiences, I am very much an amateur. 

Life has been crazy and about to be crazier. My first child expected in the next 4 weeks. I gathered these queens before I even knew we were pregnant, I am determined to do my best keeping them cared for. 

 

On that note,

Neonigers are doing well. 

 

1 queen - I spotted 3 workers over the weekend, last night I found 6 total. 

2 queens - Their pupae are ripening, I believe I actually spotted the silhouette of a worker inside one. Any day now it seems. 

The others still have various stages of development, all have eggs, most have younger pupae.

 

 

My AC crapped out, so my ants are really happy. 87 degrees in my kitchen.

I was fearful of those temps, but in reality I shouldn't be. I can see my inexperience getting in the way, but I am learning. 

 

The closet stays much warmer, not affected by the AC and with the ability to open a window. I understand it is temporary. I am looking into heating cables/mats for a more permanent move to my room downstairs. The winter and hibernation are also on my mind, as it will probably be here before I realize, and I am going to look into a minifridge to maintain constant safe temperatures. 

 

Lasius  first workers Here are the first 3 workers. Total of 6 as of yesterday. They are much better off in the warmer temps *duh*. 

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Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#17 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 25 2019 - 9:57 AM

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I feel you, man. I have two children eighteen months apart. My life has been an insane circus for the past three years. I took up ant keeping right after my second was born not even really knowing how much of a responsibility it is. We learn from our mistakes, and now I’m so thankful I can peek in on my ants every once in a while as a little escape. Congrats on your first workers and your first child coming. It will be quite an adventure in both cases.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#18 Offline Scherme - Posted June 27 2019 - 6:32 AM

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I moved my tray to the garage where it is much warmer and hopefully will encourage faster growth. I will keep an eye on outside temps, although days that get much hotter than your kitchen are usually few. 

 

87 degrees in my kitchen.

 

My first queen now has 7 workers. I popped her TT into an AC TT Portal with another TT setup on the opposite side with fresh water as she was running low. The other 2 exits closed off.

Offered a bit of sugar and a tiny bit of crushed meal worm in their new "outworld".

 

I did end up buying a large syringe. The longest I could find was pretty much made for injecting "flavor" into meats (cheating lol) so I tested it out on the queen in the glass tube that I tried persuading into moving. It was a much thicker needle and I was worried about moving the cotton around, or creating a hole that wouldn't close as I extracted the needle.

 

It took some finesse (which I lack) but I managed. I was able to add water behind the cotton without being too disruptive. I did not add water to my queen with workers as I have her connected to another fresh TT. 

 

I am budgeting for equipment to make temp management easier (heat mats and thermostats), this and and my experience with the amount of starting water should help with future colonies. Learning. At least now I have 3 giant syringes... 


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Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal


#19 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 27 2019 - 9:13 AM

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That all sounds good. Once they get past 10 workers, it will be a lot less stressful.

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#20 Offline Scherme - Posted July 3 2019 - 5:14 AM

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My first queen was at 10 workers yesterday, very excited. They have accepted the protein and honey I have provided.

 

I can feel my heartbeat slow and my thoughts melt away as I watch them. I watched one discover the food and scurry back to her sisters,

and they eagerly followed her trail to the source.

It was incredibly therapeutic.

 

I had my uncle over last night. He put ant keeping in my spotlight when I was very young.

I remember his attempts at colonies, using empty baby food jars as chambers connected by plastic tubing.

 

Its my turn to pay him back, and we got the surprise I was hoping for last night when we both spotted the single worker in on of my other test tubes.

I am waiting for a bigger brood before releasing her, and he has to find a spot for them anyway. 


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Tetramorium immigrans | Journal

Lasius Neoniger | Journal

Camponotus Pennsylvanicus | Journal

Camponotus Chromaiodes | Journal

Schermicarium - DIY | Journal






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