Jump to content

  • Chat
  •  
  •  



Welcome to Formiculture.com!

This is a website for anyone interested in Myrmecology and all aspects of finding, keeping, and studying ants. The site and forum are free to use. Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation points to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!

Photo

orphan colony journal


  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 26 2020 - 5:46 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

I have a little "orphan" colony of black house ants because my kid's paternal grandfather gave her one of those gel-filled ant farm things, and the house across the road was being demolished so I figured the poor gals were doomed anyway…

The theory is that the ants will both nest in and eat the gel?
No-one told the ants.
So they'd try to burrow between the gel and the perspex, and suffocate themselves.

I ended up shaking the survivors out into a marginally more hospitable test tube in a container set up, where they huddled miserably like they apocalypse survivors they are for… 6 months?
Which is no life for an ant.

So I… umm… bought them a better outworld and nest setup, and started bringing them wild brood.
Yes, I am probably a monster.

But they are so much happier since the first Avalanche Of Babies — a busy purposeful ant is a happy ant?

For a short time I had them in a little "Empire of Ants F1 Formicarium", which they liked okay once I drilled a few extra entrance holes in the plaster and added sand, but the chambers were way to roomy for them and too exposed, so they filled them with sand and stuck sand to the perspex walls.

We've all been happier since I upgraded to their current setup, which is a small "Aeacus Corinth Resin Nest" attached to a small "Aus Ants Outworld".

They divide their brood between 2 spots — the nest, and a hollow under a spoon on the opposite side of the outworld that has tunnels connected to it.
At some point I seem to have stolen 5 
alate eggs or larvae for them — only the last was knowingly. Those stay in the nest and are tended diligently.

 

As summer has gotten hotter, the wild nests have moved their brood further underground, and the orphan colony has had fewer brood to tend, one of my ants has started picking fights with her sisters. That behaviour seems to be settling down? I'm interested to see what, if anything, it was about.

Yesterday I did manage to find a wild brood chamber, and abducted a small quantity of
 pupae and larvae. I also exposed 2 young alates and though… let's see what happens? And abducted them too. They've moved themselves in with the outworld brood, and no one seems to be objecting — which makes me wonder if they'd accept a fertile queen?

Attached File  IMG_5313.JPG   322.3KB   2 downloads

Attached File  IMG_5312.JPG   375.99KB   1 downloads

Attached File  IMG_5299.jpeg   241.12KB   1 downloads
 


  • OhNoNotAgain likes this

#2 Offline Manitobant - Posted January 26 2020 - 5:49 PM

Manitobant

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,453 posts
  • LocationWinnipeg, Canada
Is this ochetellus glaber? They might mate in the nest if so.

#3 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 26 2020 - 6:01 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

I don't know?
I'm such a beginner. 



#4 Offline AntsDakota - Posted January 27 2020 - 3:40 PM

AntsDakota

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,910 posts
  • LocationSioux Falls, South Dakota

Gel farms are not recommended when it comes to professional ant keeping. Ants simply aren't built to live in all that humid gel and eat what they live in. Anything Uncle Milton in pro ant keeping is regarded more as a child's toy than an actual formicarium. That being said, the brand is still respected for being the pioneer of modern ant keeping (and the design hasn't changed much since the 50s when it was founded, so the products are a little outdated in terms of modern efficiency.) Not trying to criticize Uncle Milton, just letting you know.


"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


#5 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 28 2020 - 2:31 AM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

A. I'm not a professional ant keeper, and B. I was mostly trying to help my 7 year old not be rude to her grandfather who had given her a gift (whilst also doing minimal harm to any ants that might be involved — hence choosing ants that were about to get bulldozed for the experiment).

The particular brand of "ant farm" my daughter was gifted, "Jungle Ants", retails for about $25 at a few big chain shops in Australia so I was curious to se how it actually performed, in part so I could talk to other parents more specifically about what the drawbacks are.


Edited by justanotheramy, January 28 2020 - 3:00 AM.


#6 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 28 2020 - 3:33 AM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

About 36 hours ago all of the local wild colonies of these ants were sending out young queens and drones for mating flights.
I did nab a couple of boys on the off chance the time was right… but the last I saw, someone's wings were being eaten  :thinking: 

Anyway… somewhat belatedly, my little commune seems to have decided today's the day?
Lots of frenetic rushing around, which matches the behaviour of the wild colonies yesterday, and they do seem to be trying to shove the young winged queens out into the open.

Which doesn't help me much now, as I think they've, umm, dispatched they boys I found them.
But I'm wondering if their presence yesterday was one of the triggers for the behaviour today?
And if it was — if drones can't feed themselves, how long can they be held in reserve as a second wave before they starve?
If wild colonies are active, is it possible that the pheromones from the drones they're sending out could activate captive colonies, who would then be receptive to a second wave of drones… if they were still alive? Like… dump a few sacrificial boys in, get everyone stirred up, then send in the hunks?
 

But mostly my interest is…

The orphan colony has been so willing to take in raided brood; so unaggressive towards unrelated queens… and there are so many accounts of gamergates…
Yet people still repeat this truism that if the queen dies the colony dies like it's fate?
That says more about how humans embedded within the cultural legacy of feudalism conceptualise hierarchical power structures than it does about insect behaviour.



 



#7 Offline AntsDakota - Posted January 28 2020 - 4:15 PM

AntsDakota

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,910 posts
  • LocationSioux Falls, South Dakota

A. I'm not a professional ant keeper, and B. I was mostly trying to help my 7 year old not be rude to her grandfather who had given her a gift (whilst also doing minimal harm to any ants that might be involved — hence choosing ants that were about to get bulldozed for the experiment).

The particular brand of "ant farm" my daughter was gifted, "Jungle Ants", retails for about $25 at a few big chain shops in Australia so I was curious to se how it actually performed, in part so I could talk to other parents more specifically about what the drawbacks are.

I would call professional ant keeping the art of catching and raising queen ants. The types of ant farms which you have, no matter what the brand, are meant to house a couple dozen workers or so, which are meant to die off a few weeks after acquiring them. Sorry if I sounded rude, as there was obviously a misunderstanding on my part; I was just trying to warn you about gel farms.


"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


#8 Offline AntsDakota - Posted January 28 2020 - 4:19 PM

AntsDakota

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,910 posts
  • LocationSioux Falls, South Dakota

But mostly my interest is…

The orphan colony has been so willing to take in raided brood; so unaggressive towards unrelated queens… and there are so many accounts of gamergates

Most species will take foreign brood, but the acceptance of unrelated queens is a rare trait indeed. I've done it in Solenopsis molesta, Lasius neoniger, Formica sp. and Ponera pennsylvanica, but in others, nope. (The Lasius and Formica were groups of workers who accepted a new queen. The other two actually were colonies with queens who accepted more.)


"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


#9 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 29 2020 - 1:27 AM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

They've moved out of the nest entirely. 
Which is fine.
But did they have to turn it into a refuse pile?

Attached File  IMG_5383.jpg   404.92KB   1 downloads



#10 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 30 2020 - 9:51 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

Some of them have moved back into the nest, with some of the brood and one of the young hostage queens.
Nest still contains a refuse pile, which contains seeds which have started to sprout in the humidity.

Offered watermelon — rejected.
Offered apricot — rejected.
Offered small bits of prawn — rejected.
My partner has started mocking my "defective ants" by texting me photos captioned "normal ants" whenever he notices ants eating something that's not brand-name sugar water or specific insects prepared to exacting criteria.


  • OhNoNotAgain likes this

#11 Offline justanotheramy - Posted January 31 2020 - 6:50 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

Pretty heavy summer rain last night, with more to come, so I figured the wild colonies would've been moving their brood to higher ground and it might be a good time to go out in the garden to flip some logs looking for babies to snatch…

Score!

Attached File  IMG_5422.jpg   333.98KB   2 downloads

I think my ants are probably Argentines, and the donors may be something… slightly smaller? But my ants are busily tiding the new young-uns away with the rest of their brood, so they don't seem to mind.

I refilled the water reservoir under the nest last night so they've moved out of it and into the tube connecting it to the outworld — so, too much moisture, need to make the sponge smaller.



#12 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 1 2020 - 8:57 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

They've left most of the brood I found them, only taking the more advanced ones.

 

Attached File  IMG_5429.jpg   575.19KB   1 downloads

Something I've suspected since I first dumped an avalanche of babies on them is that they don't respond to the sight or smell of the presence of brood, but to their distress calls/vibrations.
In that first avalanche, the ants wouldn't dive in and rescue the nearest or most accessible baby, but they would clearly be digging until they reached a particular baby — and then, having found that one, they'd take it to the brood chamber, and then return and walk over other babies until they got to another specific baby… repeat.
(One particular ant kept getting distracted and just moving dirt for the sake of moving dirt, because I guess she was more of a tunnelling ant than a nursery ant, and then she be like… "oh yeah, sh*t!" and get back to it.)

So I might have brought them brood that are too young &/or too well stuck-down by their caregivers to be shouting at them, and should avoid doing that in future.


Their nest is just filth and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Attached File  IMG_5431.jpg   319.12KB   2 downloads

I'm taking it off and replacing it with a clean one with a smaller sponge for less humidity.
Let's see what they do to that.


Edited by justanotheramy, February 1 2020 - 8:58 PM.

  • OhNoNotAgain likes this

#13 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 3 2020 - 4:05 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

Okay, so I guess one way to find out if my girls are Argentines is to chuck a bunch of strangers in there and see if they accept them?


Edited by justanotheramy, February 27 2020 - 6:30 PM.

  • OhNoNotAgain likes this

#14 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 3 2020 - 9:45 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

Well, that was a bloodbath.


  • OhNoNotAgain likes this

#15 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 5 2020 - 8:06 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

Found the girls a mature queen wandering about.

Not sure where they've stashed her, but they don't seem to have killed her.

Fingers crossed.



#16 Offline TennesseeAnts - Posted February 6 2020 - 7:38 AM

TennesseeAnts

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4,865 posts
  • LocationNashville, Tennessee
Your ants seem to be more similar to Iridomyrmex.
  • justanotheramy likes this

#17 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 10 2020 - 3:22 AM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

No sign of the mature queen. Sorry queen.

Do wish I had a time machine and could spare the girls the stress of the invasion, but they seem to have weathered it alright.

Found them new brood today under a large rock at my kid's school. Got very bitten by the brood's caretakers who were not at all pleased about the kidnapping, but my ants seemed much more excited about this lot than any I've found locally lately.
Today's scoop up also included another alate larvae, because the 5 they have already apparently isn't enough.

The colony's 2 winged girls have very different temperaments despite being abducted from the same nest chamber of the same colony: one is quite passive, that other seems to have… 
opinions… about exactly where the brood should be positioned, and will move them, stroke them, etc.
Suspect she would've founded the more successful colony, all else being equal, if I hadn't interfered.


Edited by justanotheramy, February 10 2020 - 3:22 AM.


#18 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 27 2020 - 6:27 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

Only alate larvae I can see in the nest is the new one — don't know what happened to the others?

My 7 year old is taking the lid off the nest a lot to look at them, so they're starting to get quite habituated to light, not entirely a bad thing. Child loves the "fresh ants" — when they're so recently pupated they're a paler colour — and the other day when she had the lid off she saw one "unfold"… so much excitement!

They're not eating much, though? They went through a patch where they were hollowing out mealworms like nobody's business, and now they're not touching anything.


  • OhNoNotAgain likes this

#19 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 28 2020 - 1:32 AM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

Another brood raid today.
Inadvertently scooped 2 pupating alates — and they're not taking them into the nest. Have the 2 winged-queen sisters put their feet down about competition?

Timelapse vid of them stashing all the others (mostly pupae) on my Insta because I can't upload vid here, sorry.


Edited by justanotheramy, February 28 2020 - 1:35 AM.


#20 Offline justanotheramy - Posted February 29 2020 - 3:43 PM

justanotheramy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 169 posts
  • LocationSouth Australia

The workers seem to have moved the 2 pupating queens into the "lobby" of the nest — the pit in the outworld that the tube to the nest chamber attaches to.
They do pause and do… something… to them as they pass, but it's hard to tell what because of the location.
Time will tell if this is the workers doing their own thing against the preferences of the winged queens, or just a larder.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users