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Quizzie's Formica pratensis (June 18th, 2020)

formica rufa pratensis parasitic parasite host

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7 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Quizzie - Posted June 6 2020 - 11:36 AM

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This is the journey of my Formica pratensis (possibly rufa or polyctena) queen.

 

Please feel free to give me advice. I've read the parasitic ant guides here on the forum, but I'd be happy to hear what you have to say.

 

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June 2nd, 2020
I caught the queen in a sandbox in a park (city edge, Czech republic).
She was kept in a jar while I prepared the nest.
She was given a moist napkin, a drop of maple syrup/honey/water mixture, a cricket leg and a fruit fly.
I did not see her eat and the meat didn't disappear.
 
X5ABvCE.jpg
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June 3rd, 2020
The queen was moved into a founding chamber.
I raided my poor 2019 colony of Formica rufibarbis and stole 10 pupae.
I dropped the pupae into the nest.
The queen stayed in the outworld, didn't enter the nest and basically didn't do anything for the whole day.
She possibly still didn't eat anything (meat still didn't disappear).
 
ID7hbhf.png
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June 4th, 2020
I was getting worried about the ignored pupae, so I grabbed the queen (with soft insect tweezers), dropped her into the nest and put a stopper in.
That didn't help. She still ignored the brood and kept hiding in the nest entrance.
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June 5th, 2020

I took out the stopper, once more opening the nest to the outworld.

The queen is still not doing anything, not tending to the brood, not eating.
So I dropped a Formica rufibarbis worker into the nest, hoping she'd make a babysitter to the pupae, at least for a while.
The worker immediately started tending to the pupae and curiously enough - she ignored the queen and the queen ignored the worker (still hiding in the nest entrance).
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June 6th, 2020

No changes.

The queen is still hiding and not eating.

The worker is still being a good babysitter and avoids the queen.

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June 7th, 2020
I dropped a small piece of an apple in the nest entrance and it seemed like the queen was eating it.

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June 8th, 2020
Both the queen and the worker explored the outworld (separately) and the worker ate some syrup.
The queen explored the nest, but they both avoided each other.
I was starting to get worried as some of the pupae were getting darker.

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June 9th, 2020
Both the queen and the worker explored the outworld again.
At one point the worker grabbed a pupa and carried it out of the nest, being then cornered by the queen.
I came to the conclusion that the stress level is too high and the worker won't open pupae like this.
I removed the queen and added another worker in.

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June 10th, 2020

The first callow enclosed! It's unusually dark.

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June 11th, 2020
A second callow enclosed. Again, it's quite dark (far from white).
I removed the two adult workers (I waited for them to go outside).
I returned the queen into the nest and stoppered the entrance.
The queen killed one callow and befriended the other.
They stay close together, touching antennae and I think I have seen trophallaxis.

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June 12th, 2020
I opened and cleaned the nest, removed the dead ant and returned the darkening pupae back to their original nest.
I once more raided my Formica rufibarbis colony and stole 2 workers and 6 fresh pupae. I put them in a test tube "incubator" to raise new callows.

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June 16th, 2020
The workers in the incubator opened a pupa, but the ant died. I don't know why.

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June 18th, 2020
The workers partially opened a darkening pupa, but failed to finish the job. The pupa was now very dark and the ant's leg and antenna were wiggling in the gap.
I grabbed the pupa and carefully extracted the new worker with toothpicks. She seemed ok.
I gave the new callow a bath and threw her in the queen's nest. The queen and worker accepted her right away.

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Edited by Quizzie, June 18 2020 - 12:28 PM.

  • VoidElecent and Nare like this

Formica cinerea (queen of 2018)

Formica rufibarbis (queen of 2019)

Formica pratensis? (queen of 2020)


#2 Offline Nare - Posted June 6 2020 - 1:58 PM

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I'm not an expert on rufa-group Formica, but from when I've done introductions with Formica parasites, queens have never accepted adult workers. What I would recommend doing is leaving the worker to tend to the pupae, and when they first eclose (when you get callows), remove the worker and introduce the queen. You may want to move the pupae/worker and eventually the queen (when the callows appear) into a smaller container so that they are forced to interact. There shouldn't be any aggression between the queen and the callows, but I'm almost certain that the queen would kill the worker if they were forced into close quarters.

 

Best of luck - rufa-group are really interesting, so I'll be following this journal closely.


  • Manitobant likes this

#3 Offline Quizzie - Posted June 11 2020 - 11:00 AM

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I'm not an expert on rufa-group Formica, but from when I've done introductions with Formica parasites, queens have never accepted adult workers. What I would recommend doing is leaving the worker to tend to the pupae, and when they first eclose (when you get callows), remove the worker and introduce the queen. You may want to move the pupae/worker and eventually the queen (when the callows appear) into a smaller container so that they are forced to interact. There shouldn't be any aggression between the queen and the callows, but I'm almost certain that the queen would kill the worker if they were forced into close quarters.

 

Best of luck - rufa-group are really interesting, so I'll be following this journal closely.

 

Thanks a lot!

I took your advice and removed the queen until I had 2 callows. It seems to have worked.


  • Nare likes this

Formica cinerea (queen of 2018)

Formica rufibarbis (queen of 2019)

Formica pratensis? (queen of 2020)


#4 Offline Quizzie - Posted June 18 2020 - 12:29 PM

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I updated the journal.

The queen has now accepted 2 Formica rufibarbis workers.

I wonder how many slaves will she need. Is 6 enough?


Edited by Quizzie, June 18 2020 - 12:30 PM.

Formica cinerea (queen of 2018)

Formica rufibarbis (queen of 2019)

Formica pratensis? (queen of 2020)


#5 Offline NickAnter - Posted June 18 2020 - 2:30 PM

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I think more than 6 would be beneficial.
  • Antkid12 likes this

Species being kept:

 

 Solenopsis "plebeius", Camponotus vicinus, Camponotus maritimus, Formica cf. subaenescens, Formica cf. aerata, Lasius cf. americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Lasius brevicornis, Lasius nr claviger, Nylanderia vividula, Temnothorax rudis and a Hypoponera sp.

 

Hoping to find this year:

Myrmecocystus, Liometopum occidentale, Camponotus essigi, Camponotus fragilis, Manica bradleyi, Formica perpilosa, Pheidole hyatti, and a Parasitic Formica sp.

 

People are stupid. It explains a lot...


#6 Offline Quizzie - Posted June 18 2020 - 9:20 PM

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I think more than 6 would be beneficial.

 

Thanks. And how much more?

I mean... what is the ideal number? And what's a "good enough" number that will probably lead to success?


Formica cinerea (queen of 2018)

Formica rufibarbis (queen of 2019)

Formica pratensis? (queen of 2020)


#7 Offline Antkid12 - Posted June 19 2020 - 9:09 AM

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I think you should put as much slaves as possible. As in the wild, she would have infiltrated a whole colony.


Edited by Antkid12, June 19 2020 - 9:09 AM.

  • Manitobant likes this

Ants I have: Tapinoma sessile(2 queen colony). RED MORPH Camponotus neacticus(now has pupae!), Tetramorium immigrans (x3), Aphaenogaster sp, Temnothorax sp, Brachymyrmex sp.   possibly infertile   :(,  Ponera pennsylvanica, and Pheidole morrisi!  :yahoo: 

 

Other insects: Polistes sp. Queen

                    

Ants I need: Pheidole sp., Trachymyrmex sp., Crematogaster cerasi , Dorymyrmex sp. Most wanted: Pheidole morrisii

 

                    

                   

 

 


#8 Offline NickAnter - Posted June 19 2020 - 9:21 AM

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I have never kept parasitic Formica, but it seems people that do have success with somewhere around 20 slaves.


Species being kept:

 

 Solenopsis "plebeius", Camponotus vicinus, Camponotus maritimus, Formica cf. subaenescens, Formica cf. aerata, Lasius cf. americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Lasius brevicornis, Lasius nr claviger, Nylanderia vividula, Temnothorax rudis and a Hypoponera sp.

 

Hoping to find this year:

Myrmecocystus, Liometopum occidentale, Camponotus essigi, Camponotus fragilis, Manica bradleyi, Formica perpilosa, Pheidole hyatti, and a Parasitic Formica sp.

 

People are stupid. It explains a lot...






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: formica, rufa, pratensis, parasitic, parasite, host

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