New: Myrmecocystus mexicanus (honeypots)
Soooooooo I have been meaning to, but haven't, added stuff about Myrmecocystus mexicanus, which I'm lumping in here because I hate maintaining too many journals. And hey, Myrmecocystus mexicanus (which are real honeypot ants) have a reputation just as bad as Prenolepis imparis (false honeypot ants / winter ants) in terms of dying for no reason. The stats I've heard say about 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 queens in captivity make it to having a colony.
I ordered 5 from one seller in SoCal and 1 from another seller (later) back in around late August of 2020. The 5 from the first seller are still alive as of this writing while the 1 from the other turned into a totally deceased mold statue within a few days. Oh well. Probably the last time I'll mention that 6th one.
2020.8.26 The M. mexicanus 5 queens arrived. I put them in a dark drawer on towel to reduce vibrations. Three were given fine red silica-based reptisand for pupal substrate and two were given excess outworld sand from some THA formicaria. (Apparently they need sand for their pupae.)
2020.10.2 Unfortunately I didn't have a spare heating mat (story of my antkeeping life I guess) for a while. They need to be heated: I'm told between 80-85ish Fahrenheit. So they only got heat recently and that's another reason my pots are running late. Other queens from the same batch (kept by other people) already have workers as of this writing. Not only that, but some of the tubes were already running out of water. So something needed to be done.
I had a long conversation with Mack from Tar Heel Ants. Contrary to what a lot of people say, Myrmecocystus mexicanus apparently do just fine founding in a mini-hearth. A mini-hearth is NOT too big a space for founding queens. So today, I transferred 4 of the 5 queens to new mini-hearths (2 XLs and 2 normal size mini-hearths). Mack has a great technique of putting a queen in the outworld for safekeeping (cotton temporarily blocking the nest entrance), THEN putting extra sand and the brood into the nest, THEN letting queen move into nest. Last step is hydrating the nest. In my case, the queens acted completely befuddled and half-asleep in the outworld, so I picked them up with a bit of cardboard and dumped them into the nest before carefully closing them in. There, all 4 were soon taking care of their brood. (Speaking of which I have never seen ant brood so wiggly as M. mexicanus ... some of them move like maggots....) I put in some nectar feeders and later I may put in some protein.
So now I have 4 mini-hearths housing 4 pot queens all with their mini-hearths half-heated. The last queen, the 5th one, does not seem to have any brood at all. She has pale substrate so I'm not 100% sure, but I don't see any eggs or larvae. Not only that, but one of her front legs is permanently folded. I have left her in a test tube.
And update on the false honeypots (Prenolepis): still 4 queens. A few workers. Their test tube is really disgustingly gross. No brood and hasn't been any brood in weeks.
Liometopum occidentale: I found out they LOVE putting their brood on heat, and that they have massive brood piles. Even the Tetramorium did not have brood piles as big as the Lios. With one queen they have been giving Veromessor pergandei a run for the money in terms of brood piles. No wonder Liometopum brood is considered a delicacy (escamol / escamole - see my post about ants as food). Also, the Lio workers are getting big. The workers are now LARGER THAN TETRAMORIUM woohooo!!!!! Their middles are now noticeably paler than head and gaster, just like wild Lios I've seen. They are also busy and active and paranoid. Not only that, but they are the LEAST picky ants ever, enjoying even dried out bugs. Possibly they are even less picky than Tetramorium. This explains why I found a colony of Lios in my own yard, which is overrun by Argentines. The Lios were living in the wood of a dying tree. I also found some at a nearby park, apparently doing well despite being in Argentine territory. Liometopum appear to be survivors.
I might update with pics later!
Edited by OhNoNotAgain, October 2 2020 - 4:54 PM.
Veromessor pergandei, andrei; Novomessor cockerelli
Camponotus fragilis; also separate journal: Camponotus sansabeanus, vicinus, quercicola
Liometopum occidentale; Prenolepis imparis; Myrmecocystus mexicanus
Pogonomyrmex subnitidus and previously californicus
Termites: Zootermopsis angusticollis
Isopods: A. gestroi, granulatum, kluugi, maculatum, vulgare; C. murina; P. hoffmannseggi, P. haasi, P. ornatus; V. parvus
Spoods: Phidippus sp.