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Aphaenogaster longiceps: Chaos Ants


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19 replies to this topic

#1 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 17 2020 - 1:56 AM

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Hello everyone.
My first attempt at ant keeping went fairly smoothly for 9 months or so… and then my aphaenogaster longiceps figured out that if they packed sand into their drinking water dispenser it would siphon out into the surrounding sand, moistening the outworld and creating ideal conditions for tunneling.
And if there’s one thing aphaenogaster longiceps love, it seems to be tunnelling. Or maybe mounding.
Between the amount of water they used to drink, and the number of dire warnings I’ve read about colonies failing from dehydration, I’ve been reluctant to remove the water entirely — but no matter where I put it, they fill it again.

Needless to say, they’ve abandoned their nest, and the outworld is rather spectacularly chaos.
I’m pretty sure every single grain of sand has been turned over and moved in the last 6 weeks. The sand level is about 4 times higher than it was, due to their diligent airation.

My questions are…
• Are they endangering themselves, or can I just let them carry on?
• Is there some other way I can hydrate them?
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#2 Offline TheMicroPlanet - Posted January 17 2020 - 12:32 PM

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Well, if the ants decided on their own to do what they did, and provided they know what they're doing, I don't think they're enangering themselves. As for hydration, maybe try to refill the water despenser every so often.



#3 Offline ponerinecat - Posted January 17 2020 - 4:21 PM

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Ants endanger themselves often. Very often. Do not trust the ants to know what is good for themselves unless it has been proven to be beneficial.


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#4 Offline TheMicroPlanet - Posted January 17 2020 - 4:28 PM

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Ants endanger themselves often. Very often. Do not trust the ants to know what is good for themselves unless it has been proven to be beneficial.

I guess that makes sense in captivity... after all, you won't find many ant mistakes in the wild because nature singles out mistakes very quickly.


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#5 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 17 2020 - 6:27 PM

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My dilemma is that when I refill the water dispenser, so do they — making it impossible to dry out the outworld.
It doesn’t matter where I put it, they climb up and fill it.
Link to my Insta for example:
https://www.instagra...id=3y36i0goumeu

#6 Offline Ants4fun - Posted January 18 2020 - 10:40 AM

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Aphaenogaster love to cover exposed liquids. I would suggest removing most of the sand out of the outworks, and place the liquid feeders on a platform of some sort. You could also use a liquid feeder like the one @Dspdrew made: https://www.formicul...ated-5-30-2016/

#7 Offline ponerinecat - Posted January 18 2020 - 11:01 AM

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You could also just use a test tube for water and solid sugar grains for sugar, and just stop using liquid feeders entirely.



#8 Offline Ants4fun - Posted January 18 2020 - 11:31 AM

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You could also just use a test tube for water and solid sugar grains for sugar, and just stop using liquid feeders entirely.


Through capillary action, they would be able to drain the test tube just as easy.

#9 Offline AntsDakota - Posted January 18 2020 - 3:54 PM

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Have you kept Aphaenogaster? I don't believe I've even seen them around before.


"God made..... all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. (including ants) And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25 NIV version

 

Join our fledgling but growing AntsDakota Discord community! https://discord.gg/vkwjYzz

 

We're also excited about our new rising franchise: AntsDakota.com
 


#10 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 18 2020 - 9:40 PM

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Thanks for the link to that thread, @Ants4fun.
Have attempted to construct a capillary action liquid feeder from a small sample jar and jute string based on the example and will see how they react.

If I can find a way to help them tunnel safely that will be my preferred outcome — not just because it’s an interesting behaviour to observe, but because it seems to be their main reason for… anting.

#11 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 24 2020 - 7:37 PM

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After getting some tips on natural formicarium design here and doing some other online research, I've finally gotten all my bits and bobs together and assembled what I hope is a safer and more enjoyable home for my Aphaenogaster chaos ants.

Pic-heavy assembly post, apologies.

So, I got a large AusAnts outworld from Ant Keeping Depot, some gravel, some aquarium carbon, some tubing, and some sandy clay from a spot loved by wild ants.

The tube is so the ants can travel between their old house and the surface of their new environment — on reflection, I'm not sure why I added the second blocked off tube to the sealed up port? I think I was thinking I might want to add something else on that side later, but that would have only made sense if I'd put the sealed port above ground level.
Oh well. Learning, right?

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Then the layer of gravel so excess water has somewhere to drain, and the carbon so the water doesn't get too gross.

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Then — very conveniently — the aquarium carbon came with a mesh drawstring bag for popping into your tank filter, so I didn't have to worry about finding untreated fly screen for a barrier between soil and stones; fish-safe = ant-safe!

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Then stones of various sizes that came with the dirt, and dirt, and an incredibly tough grassy native perennial from the same area.

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Give it all a good water…

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Hook it up…

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And wait.

Midnight last night they hadn't found the bridge across.

Got up this morning…

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Yellow arrow points to original soil line  :lol: 
They seem pleased.
By noon the old sand habitat was completely evacuated.


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#12 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 24 2020 - 8:24 PM

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Oops — spoke (and poked around) too soon…

Queen hasn't moved yet. Gave her a bit of a turn but she's fine.



#13 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 25 2020 - 7:18 PM

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What's interesting is that they're also foraging more naturally in the more natural environment.
They're eating fruit, hunting isopods… "normal" ant stuff.



#14 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 26 2020 - 5:55 AM

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Queen has def been moved.
I think they've stashed her and the brood under the log, not in the tunnels yet.

Pieces of mealworm given, and swarmed on with great excitement — they were dragged to tunnels.

Pile of dirt from digging now as high as initial dirt line  :lol: 

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#15 Offline justanotheramy - Posted March 12 2020 - 12:58 AM

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I'm having trouble getting good pics because of reflections, but the new nest has at least 3 entrances, and they've got dirt piled up an inch deep in most places.
Funnel ants gotta funnel, I guess.

Protein food is being dragged to the refuse pile up against the front wall of the tank for the purchased springtails to devour; likewise fruit bits. Larder must be full.
The arthropods, beetles, and roach are all huddled on a rock — the arthropods sleep in the open on a long twig which I've never seen before.

I added 2 earth worms today — ants hustled out to see what the hell was going on as they buried themselves. Don't usually get to see more than a few foragers since they got themselves dug in, so that was cool.
Population numbers have definitely increased significantly and rapidly since the colony left the artificial nest.


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#16 Offline ANTdrew - Posted March 12 2020 - 9:02 AM

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I really like the look of your terrarium, and I have no doubt the ants will do great in it. Interesting how I can get a sense of place just by how different the rocks and soil look from the terrariums I make here in Virginia. Keep the updates coming.


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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.


#17 Offline justanotheramy - Posted March 21 2020 - 2:25 AM

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Nobody likes apple, not even the springtails. Pumpkin… meh. Cooked rice is okay. Beheaded earwigs are a new crowd favourite.

Added 2 Portuguese millipedes (prolific pest species here) to the cleanup crew, and planted 2 alpine strawberry runners from the garden, as the perennial native grass doesn't seem to be liking the damp and low light.

First small pieces of charcoal are making their way to the surface.

Ants have stopped burying the nectar feeder (for now), but still bury the feeder with water in it — considering taking out the water feeder and creating a small dish or pond for them to fill with soil.


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#18 Offline justanotheramy - Posted March 24 2020 - 8:25 PM

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Home base now seems focussed around the nest entrances closest to the nectar feeder.
They've kept a flat area at original ground level in the centre of the funnel.

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The last exposed rock is getting dirt piled onto it.

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I think I would feel confident recommending these gals as terrarium ants: even though you can't see their nest, the way they make a conspicuous display of their soil disruption rather than carefully trying to conceal the evidence means you still have quite a lot to observe.

This is the opposite side of the tank from the main nest entrance; you can see the line where the original soil ends and the pile starts about midway:

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Edited by justanotheramy, March 24 2020 - 10:29 PM.

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#19 Offline justanotheramy - Posted March 21 2021 - 8:31 PM

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I've been absent far too long.
Going to let my Chaos Ants show you their progress while I go and catch up on threads ;)

This is where their habitat started, when I introduced them to it a year ago…
 

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And this is where they are now, with apologies for the poor exposure. The girls don't like being moved.

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They've funnelled all the way back up to the roof!
And have very recently, inexplicably, returned to the practice of filling the water dispenser with soil and burying it.

The plan is to get a second Aus Ants Large Outworld and connect the two via the tube I installed when I initially set everything up so they have somewhere to roam and hunt; and they're keen because I see them sitting at the little window down the bottom looking out.
But Ant Keeping Depot is out of stock, so they'll have to wait just a little longer.

I have a 30 sec vid of them swarming the nectar feeder that makes me so happy — there's so many of them! — but for whatever reason even Insta is not letting it upload so I can't share it right now.

Look forward to seeing everyone's ants :)
 



#20 Offline ANTdrew - Posted March 22 2021 - 2:34 AM

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Woah! You’re back!
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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.





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