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My ants are idiots


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#1 Offline Temperateants - Posted May 20 2020 - 5:21 PM

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Ok, long rant ahead.

TLDR: A ~5 minute cleaning of a test tube turned into a 2 hour ordeal to return escapees, because ants always do the EXACT opposite of what you want them to do, even if it makes no sense. I need some help on how to prevent this in the future.

Before I begin: I know, I know, my tetramorium (about 40 workers right now) is needing of an outworld. Unfortunately, because of the epidemic, my parents are less than likely to purchase Fluon. 

Part 1:

I cleaned out last night's mealworms which that ants looked like they ate. So then, about HALF the colony tried to escape when I tried to clean the test tube. Why? There is NO benefit in all rushing out at once. I struggled to get them back in because of 2 reasons. One: Workers always hang on to the entrance cotton, even though in the wild if a colony is in danger their best bet is to evacuate the queen and brood. Second, when I place the cotton back onto the entrance they always seem to get stuck between the test tube edge and the cotton (no workers were squished because of this luckily). WHY???

Part 2: 

After I placed the escapees in other test tube. The ants did another thing I did not get. First, the problems listed in part 1 were still present. My plan was for the ants in the extra tubes to hang out on the cotton. I could then swap the cottons to move the workers back into the original tube in one step. The workers in the original tube were all freaking out and hanging out near the cotton in the original tube, but the ants in the extra tube were completely calm, and walking around in the unfamiliar environment???

Part 3: 

After I moved the ants from the extra ants back into the original tube, they kept on getting stuck on the cotton which made it so they coudn't move out of the way when I put the cotton back. 

My ants confuse me, so after the ordeal was over I put a short section of vinyl tubing to act as a small outworld.


Edited by Temperateants, May 20 2020 - 5:22 PM.

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#2 Online PurdueEntomology - Posted May 20 2020 - 5:44 PM

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Imagine if you had a colony of 20,000+ army ants?!  haha!!! chaos!@!


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#3 Offline AntsDakota - Posted May 20 2020 - 6:26 PM

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Yeah, you definitely need an outworld. But Tetramorium are nothing. Just try disturbing a Pogonomyrmex colony with 40 workers and see how they react. (Hint- queen will even rush out into the outworld)


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#4 Online PurdueEntomology - Posted May 21 2020 - 3:29 AM

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Yeah, you definitely need an outworld. But Tetramorium are nothing. Just try disturbing a Pogonomyrmex colony with 40 workers and see how they react. (Hint- queen will even rush out into the outworld)

Thanks for the advice and guidance...I was just mucking around!


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#5 Offline AntsDakota - Posted May 21 2020 - 3:38 AM

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Yeah, you definitely need an outworld. But Tetramorium are nothing. Just try disturbing a Pogonomyrmex colony with 40 workers and see how they react. (Hint- queen will even rush out into the outworld)

Thanks for the advice and guidance...I was just mucking around!

 

Oh, sorry I was talking to Temperateants. Should've clarified.


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"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
Currently Keeping: 

                               Myrmica sp.

                               Lasius aphidicola

                               Pogonomyrmex occidentalis

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#6 Offline Temperateants - Posted May 21 2020 - 4:37 AM

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I attached a piece of vinyl tubing to act as a temporary mini outworld. I want my ants to get their food really easily and not have to work for it in the early stages.


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#7 Offline Serafine - Posted May 21 2020 - 6:00 AM

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You could use some sort of plastic/tupper box and drill a hole into it to fit the tubing. You just need to make the hole a little smaller than the tubing, then hold the tubing piece under hot water (so it gets soft and wobbly) and push it through the hole. Once the tubing piece gets back to room temperature it will be impossible to remove and stick so tightly in the whole that the ants can't squeeze through anywhere. Worked for Lasius niger, so it will work for Tetramorium. This gives you a small makeshift outworld until you can get a better one.


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#8 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 21 2020 - 6:13 AM

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Serafine's idea is excellent. Try to get resourceful and make your own outworld with containers you have on hand. Tetramorium really suck at climbing, so you don't necessarily need fluon to stop them. The DIY kind of barriers will work. A moat of vinegar mixed with water could work too ( some tiny ants can walk on plain water )

Your ants aren't stupid; they have a powerful instinct to wander out to find food. The minute they get a whiff of fresh air, it's like a scene from Braveheart:"Freedom!!!" There will be no way around that, especially as the colony continues to grow.


Edited by ANTdrew, May 21 2020 - 6:16 AM.

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#9 Offline Temperateants - Posted May 21 2020 - 6:58 AM

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You could use some sort of plastic/tupper box and drill a hole into it to fit the tubing. You just need to make the hole a little smaller than the tubing, then hold the tubing piece under hot water (so it gets soft and wobbly) and push it through the hole. Once the tubing piece gets back to room temperature it will be impossible to remove and stick so tightly in the whole that the ants can't squeeze through anywhere. Worked for Lasius niger, so it will work for Tetramorium. This gives you a small makeshift outworld until you can get a better one.

I actually have that setup currently unused, I just don't have a deterrent. When I can buy some fluon, one thing I can think of is how I will connect a new tube to the side tubing, and put my old tetramorium tube in the box. I can't really observe my ants in that fashion without significantly disturbing them. Any ideas?


Edited by Temperateants, May 21 2020 - 7:05 AM.

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#10 Offline Serafine - Posted May 21 2020 - 9:14 AM

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Part 1:
I cleaned out last night's mealworms which that ants looked like they ate. So then, about HALF the colony tried to escape when I tried to clean the test tube. Why? There is NO benefit in all rushing out at once. I struggled to get them back in because of 2 reasons. One: Workers always hang on to the entrance cotton, even though in the wild if a colony is in danger their best bet is to evacuate the queen and brood. Second, when I place the cotton back onto the entrance they always seem to get stuck between the test tube edge and the cotton (no workers were squished because of this luckily). WHY???

Many ants react to threats by attacking them. A large amount of workers tries to sting and drive away the attacker while the rest protects the queen. This is much better than being passive to get picked off one by one (also it will teach the attacker a lesson for the future).

They are attacking the cotton because their instinct tells them to - cotton probably resembles fur aka a small rodent or some other mammal.

Also how do you expect them to evacuate when they're literally stuck in a tube with just one exit?

 

Part 2:
After I placed the escapees in other test tube. The ants did another thing I did not get. First, the problems listed in part 1 were still present. My plan was for the ants in the extra tubes to hang out on the cotton. I could then swap the cottons to move the workers back into the original tube in one step. The workers in the original tube were all freaking out and hanging out near the cotton in the original tube, but the ants in the extra tube were completely calm, and walking around in the unfamiliar environment???

The ants probably assume that whatever predator they were attacking has buggered off and now they are trying to find their way back to the colony. The workers in the original tube however sense the presence of the queen (and their territory scent) and since they are already agitated will attack whatever comes their way.

 

Part 3:
After I moved the ants from the extra ants back into the original tube, they kept on getting stuck on the cotton which made it so they coudn't move out of the way when I put the cotton back.
My ants confuse me, so after the ordeal was over I put a short section of vinyl tubing to act as a small outworld.

Ants can easily get stuck in cotton fibers, especially when they try to attack them. It might be a better idea to just dip them into the tube while holding it vertically. They're agitated anyway, so it can't really get much worse for them.
Best thing obviously would be an outworld.

 

When I can buy some fluon, one thing I can think of is how I will connect a new tube to the side tubing, and put my old tetramorium tube in the box. I can't really observe my ants in that fashion without significantly disturbing them. Any ideas?

Just push a short piece of plastic straw through between the cotton and the tube's wall and put the entire thing into the outworld.

That way your ants can keep their home and explore the outworld for food at the same time.


Edited by Serafine, May 21 2020 - 9:20 AM.

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#11 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 21 2020 - 9:24 AM

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Listen to Serafine. If you have nothing for a barrier, use a lid with holes in it stuffed with cotton. Make a bigger hole in the middle, so you can quickly dump feeder insects in without removing the whole lid and letting ants out. Keep a feather handy to brush any escapees back in the hole.
You can also make a cover for the tube using half a toilet paper roll (if you have any!) or some aluminum foil. That will keep the tube dark as you observe foraging.

Edited by ANTdrew, May 21 2020 - 9:26 AM.

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#12 Offline Canadant - Posted May 21 2020 - 11:41 AM

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Tetramorium are garbage climbers. I bet you could use baby powder/alcohol mix. You don't even need tubing. I just place the whole test tube in the outworld. All you really need is some kind of container. If you're worried about the tube rolling around secure it in place with rocks or play dough. Cover the tube with half a used toilet paper roll - something that is easily removed and replaced. You don't even really need that if you want to get them used to light.

Are you in canada? I can send you a AC mini outworld if you wish.
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#13 Offline Temperateants - Posted May 21 2020 - 11:54 AM

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Tetramorium are garbage climbers. I bet you could use baby powder/alcohol mix. You don't even need tubing. I just place the whole test tube in the outworld. All you really need is some kind of container. If you're worried about the tube rolling around secure it in place with rocks or play dough. Cover the tube with half a used toilet paper roll - something that is easily removed and replaced. You don't even really need that if you want to get them used to light.

Are you in canada? I can send you a AC mini outworld if you wish.

Thank you for the offer, but I am in the US.


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#14 Offline Canadant - Posted May 21 2020 - 1:34 PM

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Tetramorium are garbage climbers. I bet you could use baby powder/alcohol mix. You don't even need tubing. I just place the whole test tube in the outworld. All you really need is some kind of container. If you're worried about the tube rolling around secure it in place with rocks or play dough. Cover the tube with half a used toilet paper roll - something that is easily removed and replaced. You don't even really need that if you want to get them used to light.

Are you in canada? I can send you a AC mini outworld if you wish.

Thank you for the offer, but I am in the US.

It's all good, man. Best of luck. BTW my tetramorium are fast becoming my favorite. They're queens are baby factories, the eat everything, easy maintenance, durable, highly active, crap escape artists and just fun to watch. Generally a fantastic ant!

Bow down!
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#15 Offline Temperateants - Posted May 22 2020 - 6:17 AM

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Tetramorium are garbage climbers. I bet you could use baby powder/alcohol mix. You don't even need tubing. I just place the whole test tube in the outworld. All you really need is some kind of container. If you're worried about the tube rolling around secure it in place with rocks or play dough. Cover the tube with half a used toilet paper roll - something that is easily removed and replaced. You don't even really need that if you want to get them used to light.

Are you in canada? I can send you a AC mini outworld if you wish.

Thank you for the offer, but I am in the US.

It's all good, man. Best of luck. BTW my tetramorium are fast becoming my favorite. They're queens are baby factories, the eat everything, easy maintenance, durable, highly active, crap escape artists and just fun to watch. Generally a fantastic ant!

Bow down!

 

Lol not so easy maintenance. My Tetramorium poop A LOT which was the reason for the escape ordeal in the first place. My tetramorium are not picky, since they eat mealworms that have gone bad or dehydrated to death. They also eat biscuit beetle larvae. 


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#16 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 22 2020 - 6:24 AM

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What did you figure out?

The next time you go to the grocery store, I recommend getting some spinach or lettuce that comes in a box like this:

IMG 7188
 
Once you clean it out, this would make a perfect temporary outworld with some holes made in the lid. Put the tube right in the box using the cotton and straw method to make a smaller opening. Some sand or substrate in there will greatly increase the Tetras' comfort level. I have raised many a Tetra colony, including one that now has queen larvae, and this simple tubs and tubes set up is hands down the best way to raise young colonies.

 


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#17 Offline OhNoNotAgain - Posted May 22 2020 - 4:36 PM

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My only concern with sand or substrate is my Tetras hated light and would plaster over any windows or viewing surfaces with sand. (Less so now that they are getting more populous.)

 

I have also used Velcro to keep test tubes from rolling around in a plastic box, and I have also used vaseline (won't stop fruit flies though - not sure about Tetras) and olive oil (but the olive oil kept killing ants by dripping onto them).


Edited by OhNoNotAgain, May 22 2020 - 4:36 PM.

Veromessor pergandei x2

Veromessor andrei

Camponotus fragilis

Camponotus sansabeanus

Tetramorium x2 (No I didn't want 2 colonies ... long story)

Prenolepis imparis queens in tubes

Termitat: Zootermopsis angusticollis

And bunches of isopods (various Armadillidium, C. murina, P. hoffmannseggi, P. haasi, V. parvus) and hordes of springtails

 





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