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Dspdrew's Acromyrmex versicolor Journal [119] (Updated 10-21-2023)

dspdrew acromyrmex versicolor journal fungus growers leaf cutters

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#41 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 15 2014 - 5:43 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

After I dug that founding chamber up and brought it home in the bucket last year, I started having this mold sprout up everywhere. First I noticed tons of it in the leaf litter inside the bucket, and then it start popping up in all my aquariums and flower pots. It's really nasty looking, and it seems that springtails won't touch it. I'm pretty sure that queen died before the mold started growing on it.



#42 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 15 2014 - 8:54 PM

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I think the rest of my workers were attacked by some fungus or something, because I was keeping two unmated queens with them, who died at the same time,

also I think I have that fungus contained...



#43 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 16 2014 - 10:58 AM

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Do any of them have larvae yet?



#44 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 16 2014 - 2:06 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Not yet that I can see.



#45 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 17 2014 - 6:54 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 8-17-2014

 

I still don't see anything in the buckets. I finally got some trays for them to sit in. I added water and after a day or so, it was all soaked up. I filled the trays up again, and noticed the dirt on the top was actually slightly damp. It's amazing how high the water wicked up the dirt.

 

The larger fungus garden has been growing larger every day. I can see the queen puts little specks of leaves or whatever she has chosen about the size of her eggs onto the fungus, and it then grows all over them soon after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The queen with the smaller fungus garden doesn't have anything now. I'm not sure where it went, but I took her out and put another queen in there. I also took a small piece of the larger fungus garden and gave it to her. Right away she took interest in it.

 

The humidity was up to about 90 percent in the foraging containers, so I took the smaller water containers out of them, lowering it a few percentage points. I also stuck a few pieces of the substrate directly into their test tubes hoping to encourage them to add it to their gardens.


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#46 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 17 2014 - 8:02 PM

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Wow! That fungus is growing fast.



#47 Offline AntsAreUs - Posted August 18 2014 - 2:38 PM

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Mold always grows on anything that I do with dirt or soil even if it's treated with some fungicides.



#48 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 18 2014 - 3:57 PM

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Mold always grows on anything that I do with dirt or soil even if it's treated with some fungicides.

 

The fungus above is a good fungus. They farm it to eat.



#49 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 19 2014 - 7:07 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Update 8-19-2014

 

The buckets still show no sign of life other than a little mold now starting to grow on the substrate on top because of how much moisture they wicked up. Because of this, I removed any excess water in the trays for now to allow the tops to dry out a bit. I even sprayed some alcohol on the fungus because I saw some of that nasty yellow Mojave Desert fungus starting to grow. I got it before I saw any little yellow balls on the ends so I think that means the spores probably didn't spread around here yet. From now on, I'll just add a small amount of water to the trays once a week. Most likely I will be dumping them after another week if nothing ever shows up.

 

The queen with the larger fungus garden is still growing her garden larger every day. At this point, she has more than made up for the piece I removed from it. I don't know for sure, but it looks like she is mainly choosing to add pieces of the oatmeal to it over anything else.

 

The new queen has already tripled the size of the fungus I gave her. I actually saw her squirting anal fluid onto the substrate and fungus, so I was pretty sure she was properly taking care of it. She also has all of her eggs piled right there with the fungus now. This morning I noticed a fresh piece of substrate added to the fungus that of course is all covered in the white fuzz now. It looked like it was a small piece of one of the fish pellets.

 

I think tonight I'll try taking two more small pieces and giving them to two more fungus-less queens to hopefully get four colonies going.



#50 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 21 2014 - 9:36 AM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
Update 8-21-2014
 
The buckets still don't show signs of any ants.
 
I setup three more containers with queens and gave them all small pieces of fungus from the larger garden. So far the two I setup Tuesday are growing and the queens are adding substrate to them daily. The one I setup yesterday doesn't look too good, but it might just be too soon to tell.
 
While pulling pieces of fungus off the larger garden, I accidentally knocked it down. After it laid on the bottom of the test tube for a while, I twisted it about 90 degrees, putting the fungus back up on the side the way the queen likes it. While doing this, I noticed some larvae were just starting to form.
 
med_gallery_2_126_47184.jpg
 
 
Yesterday I noticed mold starting to form over all the substrate in the two original containers, even though it was never moistened. This was obviously because of the very high humidity in there, so I removed one of the larger containers of water. Now the humidity is measuring at about 80 percent in the foraging container. I cleaned both of these containers out and put new substrate in. This time I left out the clay dirt since it really serves no purpose now that I'm not using it to hold moisture. This is also how I setup the three new containers. The substrate I put in this time had some slightly larger pieces in it.
 
gallery_2_126_928891.jpg
 
 
This morning I noticed all but the newest queen had added more pieces of substrate to their fungus. The queen with the larger fungus garden actually added about five or so pieces, and created a small pile right in front of the fungus. I can see they really like the broken up fish pellets, because that was pretty much the only thing they added to their fungus. The original queen with the larger fungus actually has a few pieces of the broken up frosted flakes in her extra pile as well, so they seem to like that too.
 
Here's the original queen and her fungus garden covered in pieces of fish pellets. I actually watched her stick a couple of these on there this morning.
 
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#51 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 21 2014 - 11:38 AM

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Did you get a new camera?

#52 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 21 2014 - 1:30 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Nope, same camera I've always been using.



#53 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 25 2014 - 4:28 PM

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You know the workers I brought home lived about a week in captivity, but do you know what is STILL alive?

The ironwood leaves. It is insane how these desert plants have evolved to lose such little moisture through evaporation by their leaves.



#54 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 25 2014 - 4:30 PM

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Also that fungus is growing all over my still alive and green ironwood tree leaves.

#55 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 25 2014 - 4:57 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

That particular fungus there I found out most likely is Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, their fungus. After seeing the fungus gardens stuck to the sides of the test tubes, I noticed from that perspective it looks exactly like this.



#56 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 25 2014 - 6:50 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
Update 8-25-2014
 
I finally dumped out the buckets, but while I was at the spot again a few days ago, I took home the first bucket I buried back at the beginning of the season as a backup. It's not designed super nice like the blue ones, but I think it might have had a founding chamber in it.
 

 
 
The original queen's fungus has doubled in size yet again, and is now about the size of a Fruit Loop. I put some larger pieces of leaf litter and full-sized fish pellets in this queens container now in case she wants to start adding some larger pieces to her garden. So far she's got a couple of the full-sized fish pellets already piled in her tube. I also see what are obvious larvae now here and there stuck in the fungus. There seemed to be a lot of fluid around them though, so I hope they're okay.
 
Some of the other queens' donated fungus gardens have grown quite a bit too now. Using pieces of a few different fungus gardens, I managed to get five more containers set up.
 

 
 
There now is a total of 10 containers, but three of them don't look like they're doing too good. For some reason two of those queens have piled lots of leaf litter all over the wet cotton, and their fungus is nowhere to be seen. I'll give it a little more time and see what happens.
 
Here's one of the first queens' donated fungus garden with some freshly laid eggs.
 

 
 
While out at the spot again over the weekend, Acromyrmex had another mating flight. This time I collected a few of them much later in the day--around 2:00 pm. These were almost all already in the process of digging their founding chambers when I grabbed them.
 
Here's a picture of an Ironwood tree. These trees seem to be the most common tree (almost the only real tree) out there that they nest under.
 

 
 
So far, unlike what we previously suspected after catching queens last year, it seems most of these queens still had their fungus pellets. Apparently they don't drop them off until they are finished digging for the time being, and probably feeling comfortable and safe in their new nest. This would be consistent with them not spitting the pellets out in the test tube for about two days.
 
Here's a queen holding her fungus pellet in her mandibles.
 

 
 
Today I actually found one of the new fungus pellets growing fungus, but it's all tangled in a few strands of cotton.
 

 
 
This particular test tube happens to have two queens together in it. Hopefully they are able to garden and further grow this one without destroying it with those strands of cotton mixed in with it. I put some very small pieces of substrate in the test tube for them. I guess we'll see what happens.
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#57 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 26 2014 - 6:51 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
Update 8-26-2014
 
So far I haven't seen anything in the new bucket.
 
All 10 setups started sprouting some nasty blueish-green mold all over the substrate again, so I had to redo them all. This time I left out the containers of water in hopes that it will lower the humidity in the foraging container enough to stop that mold from growing. While doing this, I found a few of the queens' fungus that I couldn't see before. One queen had no fungus at all anymore, and carried all sorts of large pieces of the substrate into her test tube. I moved this queen to the reject pile and grabbed a new one. I pulled a small piece of fungus from the largest garden and gave it to this new queen. It's hard to tell if there was much growth of any of the fungus gardens, but the original queen with the larger one had some new pieces of goldfish pellets stuck to it. Also, she definitely has larvae too now; you can see them in the picture below.
 

 
 
The one new fungus pellet just starting to sprout fungus has grown slightly thicker, but the two queens don't seem to be doing anything with it, so I moved them to the reject pile and put another queen in that tube.

#58 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 26 2014 - 7:16 PM

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It is cool how she made a little shelf looking thing out of the fungus to hold the larvae.

Can you list EVERYTHING that the queen has added to the fungus as substrate?



#59 Offline dspdrew - Posted August 26 2014 - 7:43 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

The fungus in that picture is actually laid on its side, with the left side of the picture being the bottom of the test tube. I couldn't possibly list everything she has added to the fungus, but I have previously listed everything I made available for her. Also, as I already mentioned, I know for sure she has added lots of the fish pellets.



#60 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted August 26 2014 - 7:52 PM

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that's what all that... Brownish Orange stuff is? Any specific brand?







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