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Camponotus decipiens - dominatus' first Colony (Update 8/14/2019 new custom formicarium)

wild camponotus homemade formicarium formicarium journal

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#1 Offline dominatus - Posted June 6 2019 - 11:36 PM

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May 23rd, 2019: I found an established colony of Camponotus decipiens in a log slated for the burn pile. I was cleaning up parts of the property that had been neglected and just lucked into seeing the queen scurry into a log I broke open by accident. I collected them to spare them from the flames!

I made some posts already since this was my first real attempt at ant keeping.

 

I made this wooden formicarium.

uc?export=download&id=1Hj-bXtoxY24OeoYsu

uc?export=download&id=1UKA_1Kmh4h_30Feqx

 

 

It was too spacious, besides it didn't look that good and I fitted it very poorly, leaving a gap between the wood and glass of the aquarium.

The ants were not impressed either. The queen and most of the colony crammed themselves into the hygrometer I had sitting in the aquarium / out world. Real funny guys, great start for my ant keeping career. 

uc?export=download&id=1-fUyhWEC2pi5Oln48

 

 

So I made a new formicarium that is a much less spacious, and this time made a plexiglass cover. I made legs for the formicarium and it simply sits horizontal in the aquarium / out world.

 

 

uc?export=download&id=103wpqIogy1N6qftg0

 

 

They liked this much better! I put sawdust in half of the formicarium so they can expand as they see fit. I have left holes to insert thermometers and water. I have placed a small under tank heating pad on the underside of the wooden formicarium. It has held one side between 80 and 86 fahrenheit (26-30 celsius) and the other about 70 fahrenheit (21 celsius). They certainly avoid the humidity when I water the holes. I do so only every week or two, just in case they need it.

uc?export=download&id=10AfpZykJ5e8QX4Nc1

 

 

Here above you can see the very first new workers that were born since they were collected!

I don't have the right macro lens or lighting for my camera. I will be trying to fix this sometime this month I hope.

 

In the meantime here is a couple of videos I got using what I have. This is a few weeks after the first new workers were born. There are now SO MANY new workers!!!

 

June 6th, 2019: Videos of colony progress. 

 

 

 

I am so excited to see this growth. I will post a better tour of their world when I get the proper lens, hopefully next week.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this view of these colorful guys.


Edited by dominatus, August 13 2019 - 9:36 PM.

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#2 Offline dominatus - Posted June 7 2019 - 12:12 AM

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Man, it took me like 5 edits to get those videos embedded. I got it figured out though... obviously.


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#3 Offline CatsnAnts - Posted June 7 2019 - 4:21 AM

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Congrats! Looks like a neat colony! :D

Spoiler

#4 Offline dominatus - Posted June 8 2019 - 6:43 PM

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Congrats! Looks like a neat colony! :D

Thank you, they are great I thinks. I hope their numbers continue to grow. :-D Still not sure how I will brumate them in the winter. I don't have a cooler I could dedicate to them...



#5 Offline Acutus - Posted June 8 2019 - 7:54 PM

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Lookin' Good! (y)  (y)


Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#6 Offline dominatus - Posted June 14 2019 - 10:15 PM

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Update 6/15/2019

 

I have a video of better quality to show the whole setup for my Camponotus decipeins colony. They audio has some bits that are... windy? IDK. I'll try to figure out how to make that not happen, hopefully soon. My apologies. I didn't edit it well, just threw it together. I just wanted to show the setup, nothing fancy.

 

 

So lessons learned from this first setup: Make the entrances on the sides so I can insert tubing or cotton to block them. This formicarium is pretty hard to close up if I want to move it. I think from now on formicariums will just be independent from out worlds and connected by tubing.I have glass cutting tools or I could just lay tubing in from the top and make a slick blockage like I did with the power cord for the heating pad.

 

Good stuff: Having screws for the plexiglass top will allow me to clean the formicarium when the time comes. I liked using the router to make the paths in the wood, very clean. Having the formicarium horizontal means I don't have to worry so much about the shape of the chambers. I realize now a vertical setup really needs horizontally longer or deeper chambers, "higher" chambers doesn't really make more space for the brood or storage areas.

 

I had the honey rock and a small bowl with moist cotton balls before, just today I added the test tubes of sugar water and regular water. I have yet to see them drink from either. I'll wait and see if they figure it out.

 

So yeah, I actually have a second queen. Like I said in the video, I have no idea if she had started a brood or not when I found her. If she had workers then it was no more than 3-5. I hope she makes some more! I just worry she had already started her colony and now she won't have enough stores left to start again. I never see her leave her chamber and I'm really not sure she took any of the honey or fruit flies I put at the entrance. *sigh* I really wish I would have put her in a clear container...

 

I don't know when or if I'll introduce any of the orphaned ants to see if they accept her. If I do it won't be for at least another month, maybe two, after she has her own workers. It won't be but one or two ants at a time.

 

As for the fire ant queens, I don't know. There are two in there raising a brood together. If they successfully get some nanitics I'll decide then. I just know how voracious and fast growing they are and I'm not sure I want to deal with them and their escape artist ways. Wood formicariums by themselves will not do for those guys.

 

How many ants you think are in that main colony? Eggs? Let me know what you think. The colony seems to be thriving, hopefully I don't encounter a big decline like I've read in other journals. I plan on giving them a satellite nest just in case that is something they need. Also I will brumate them, though not sure how yet. I really wish I just had a wine cooler just for my ants, lol.

 

Laters for now!


Edited by dominatus, June 14 2019 - 10:18 PM.


#7 Offline Kahldris - Posted June 15 2019 - 4:31 AM

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That's cool man, I'm no expert but I've heard people say that you could try to refrigerate one of the workers chill her a little to lessen any chance aggression and put one worker in with the queen to see if she'll except the queen.

Maybe one of the more experienced people can chime in if that's a good idea in this case or not.

#8 Offline BeginnerAntKeeper - Posted June 15 2019 - 5:29 AM

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It also helps to leave the satellite(or the colony without a queen) out for a few weeks to dissipate the colony scent. That way the ants on both sides are less likely to realize that they are of opposing colonies due to the satellite not having a distinguishable scent. It does also help to chill the ants to slow them down and test with a worker to see if they will accept the nest(like what Kahldris said)

#9 Offline dominatus - Posted June 15 2019 - 5:51 AM

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Thanks y'all. I'll wait at least another month before I try anything. I mostly just want that queen to do well is all and I worry she had already founded a colony before I came along. I'll definitely keep the progress posted. 🤞

#10 Offline dominatus - Posted June 15 2019 - 6:56 PM

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Had to share a video I just took using a new macro filter set up.... I think I can even get more zoomed in but haven't tried... yet... I think it is super cool :-P

 

 

 


Edited by dominatus, June 15 2019 - 7:24 PM.

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#11 Offline dominatus - Posted July 24 2019 - 9:24 PM

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June 24th, 2019:

Been very busy here. I have lots of founding queens of different species I should start a journal for. I've been working hard on perfecting my formicarium building also.

 

Lets see what the wild colony that started it all looks like now though, shall we?

 

 

Yeah, that is some serious growth. Double what we saw in mid June? Seems like it! So much brood and so many majors. If these guy brumate well I bet we will have alates next year!

 

They have just about used up all the space in that first usable formicarium I made. As you can see the plexiglass pulled away a bit from the wood also, allowing them to make use of some space between the "walls" and the glass. Probably many reason for that: the wood wasn't really flat, needed screws in the middle not just on the edges, wood warped because I watered a lot out of caution for my first colony. Well, I have a new formicarium almost done that should solve all those issues and look amazing and beautiful!

Here is sneak peek. Stay tuned for move in day, probably in 5 or so days! I just need to polish things a bit and make sure all the epoxy is totally cured.

uc?export=download&id=12UD9_Ym2TVVCJjNnw

 

uc?export=download&id=12VvNoScJsBBTd0mSI


Edited by dominatus, July 25 2019 - 6:47 AM.

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#12 Offline dominatus - Posted August 13 2019 - 9:21 PM

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August 14th, 2019

Okay, new formicarium is done and has been moved into!

We are well over 500 workers now!

 

 

The formicarium is made of a 2 foot ish oak (I think?) slab about 3 inches thick. Sealed with ArtResin epoxy with a float of the epoxy on top. Router used to make chambers then wood resealed with epoxy with sand embedded. Plexiglass cover held in place by brass wood inserts and brass machine screws. With the epoxy self leveling I had a perfectly flat surface so the plexiglass leaves no space for the ants to insert themselves between it and the "walls." 
 
The fancy cover is not attached yet so I just cover it with a paper bag for now. I'll post another tour with the cover when it is in place.
 
I didn't focus on maximizing chamber space but more on just making it look random or natural chambers. I am fairly happy with the results. 
 
The formicarium is water proof so no wood molding or warping. I placed saw dust in the chambers so the ants can clear space as needed and still have a "wood feel" even though the wood they are nesting in is sealed with epoxy. I have 4 ports that either vinyl tubes or test tubes of water/food can be attached too. I can control humidity this way, though this species does just fine with very little humidity. The top half's chambers do not connect to the bottom half's chambers. I did this to perhaps give the two halves a "satellite nest" feel for the ants. They have to leave the nest and enter the other half through a different tube. There is reptile heating pad attached on the back, warming most of the bottom chambers. There is a combo thermometer / hygrometer inserted in the formicarium near the middle. It is under the plexiglass but separate from the ant chambers.

Any thoughts?

Also, the random extra Camponotus decipiens queen I had and posted about at the beggining of the journal is doing fine. The orphaned ants never accepted her, so I simply set them free outside to live whatever life they could. I did brood boost her as she seemed to not be laying many eggs. She got some pupa from a wild colony. She has three workers now (one being her actual first nanitic) and back to eating and laying eggs. I may give her to a friend or family, I don't have much interest in having two Camponotus decipiens colonies.

Edited by dominatus, August 13 2019 - 9:23 PM.

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#13 Offline ponerinecat - Posted August 13 2019 - 9:25 PM

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Amazing formicarium, especially for a wood one.


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#14 Offline dominatus - Posted August 13 2019 - 9:41 PM

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Amazing formicarium, especially for a wood one.

Thank you. It was a nice challenge. I think the formicarium will last a long time and be reusable. I really am really happy with it. It is not perfect but dang it sure did turn out better than I thought it would. At times during the process I was sure I had really messed it up!


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#15 Offline ANTdrew - Posted August 14 2019 - 4:51 AM

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Magesterial!
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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.


#16 Offline Acutus - Posted August 14 2019 - 7:03 AM

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Dude that is AWESOME!!! I love how you packed the sawdust in as well! Look forward to seeing how it goes! :D


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Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#17 Offline ANTdrew - Posted August 14 2019 - 9:35 AM

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Please make a tutorial.
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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 dominatus - Posted August 14 2019 - 12:20 PM

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Please make a tutorial.

Ha, I thought about that about 3/4 the way finished with this one. I have a circular cut of the same wood that I was debating turning into a formicarium. I'll do it and I'll video everything and edit together a tutorial. It may be a month or two but perhaps people will like it and find something to build during brumation down time. I also have a better idea of the effort and mistakes and things to plan for so probably make a better tutorial then if I did it with this first go around.


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#19 Offline Canadant - Posted August 14 2019 - 5:15 PM

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Wow. That's sweet. I just ordered the camponotus hybrid nest 2.0 from ants Canada. My ants need the space. However, I love the wood. It's so natural for them. What kind of wood is it? They have never chewed through it?

I was thinking about giving them a block of wood just to give them something to do.
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"You don't get what you want. You get what you deserve".

#20 Offline Mitzunare - Posted August 15 2019 - 2:38 AM

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Welp. I'm gonna try and replicate this. Hahaha
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