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Test's Novomessor cockerelli and Veromessor pergandei Journal (updated 10/16/2020, Nanitics!))

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#1 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted September 11 2020 - 9:29 AM

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9/11/2020:

 

In the past few weeks, I bought an 8 worker colony of Veromessor pergandei from Theantguy14 and 4 Novomessor cockerelli dealates from dspdrew. As both have been thriving since, I've decided to start a journal on them. This is my first journal so I apologize in advance for the mistakes that I'm sure to make, especially in macrophotography which I hope to improve in as I go. Currently I have two macro phone lenses, with 10X and 60X magnification. Most photos will be in 10X because I've found that my 60X needs to be very close to its subject and in bright light to photograph properly, and is much higher magnification than what photographing my medium-large ants requires.

 

Veromessor pergandei

IMG 20200910 174238
IMG 20200910 174203

 

I got this colony a few weeks ago at eight workers, but after two deaths and three eclosures they have reached nine. Despite lacking an outworld they are still far more active than my two Campononotus colonies, always strolling around their tube or at least waving their antennae. Even the queen is active and I sometimes see her putting her strong jaws to work opening seeds to feed her brood, something her workers are not capable of. So far, on top of the seeds already in their tube, I've fed them dried bloodworms and half a cricket. I have only seen them show interest in the seeds and the cricket's legs, which isn't surprising because their wild diet consists of 85-90% seeds. I have high hopes for this colony's growth in the future based on what I've read in other journals, and they already have a new pupa as well as 7 larvae. I recently got a heating cable but haven't yet set up a hot box yet, so most of my colonies including all my harvesters are temporarily being kept in a closet that has been getting comfortably hot due to the heat wave, which I figure is better than room temperature.

 

Novomessor cockerelli

IMG 20200910 174749
IMG 20200910 174357
IMG 20200910 174539

I received four dealate queens of this species from drew about a week ago. They are huge compared to my Veromessors and much faster. I love their spiky look and shiny reddish-black coloration. I transferred three of them into test tube setups and one into a naturalistic setup with some premade tunnels poked into the ground near the edges with a pencil. All of them were given drew's seed mix and dried bloodworms, and two also received cricket legs. I then bundled them all up with clothes and left them in my aforementioned warm closet. A week later, the queen in the naturalistic setup (image 1) has stored all the seeds and bloodworms I gave her belowground, and seems to alternate between living in the holes I dug and the surface. I have seen her carrying around a small bunch of eggs so she is doing well. I would love to observe ants in a more natural setting, so I hope her colony succeeds. I have noticed that she is easily disturbed when I check on her and will come above ground and run around when her box is vibrated, so I plan to check on her less than my other queens who seem much less stressed by checkups. My second queen (image 2) is doing the best out of all my queens. She has the largest egg ball and seems to show a lot of care towards her brood. She also appears to have eaten from the cricket leg I gave her, which could have contributed to her egg production. Whatever the case, I have very high hopes for her. My third queen (no image) is unremarkable. She has a smaller egg ball than my second, although if she can raise even half of them to workers she will be off to a great start. Finally, my fourth queen (image 3) seems to be a dud. She has no eggs to speak of and easily agitated. She has also decided to pile up the seeds and bloodworms I gave her against her wet cotton, creating a pile of mold. The bottom of her tube is covered with some kind of dried fungus. I'm not sure if she is mated, but even if she is she doesn't seem to have the competence required to keep herself or any brood alive. I'll move her into a natural setup to see if she fares better in a more familiar environment, but I don't have high hopes for her survival.

 

Bonus Pictures / Wild Ants

To practice macrophotography and discover the (limited) ant diversity of my neighborhood, I have been finding and taking pictures of wild ant colonies. I don't expect to find much so I'll be publishing it to the end of my harvester journal.

 

IMG 20200904 161902

Monomorium ergatogyna are common where I live, although their small size and slow movement makes them hard to spot. A California native, their polygynous colonies survive using small size and chemical sprays to avoid attack by the dominant argentine ants. They are easy to miss while standing and even when you are on your knees looking for them. This picture is from a colony I discovered in my yard after leaving some honey near a lone forager. I had thought  she was from a small colony, but when I returned two hours later the pool of honey was surrounded by hundreds of ants. Here are five of them at 60X magnification.

IMG 20200904 163526

Pheidole navigans are another tiny species, this time invasive. They seem to survive by the same strategy as Monomorium ergatogyna and are similarly hard to spot. I found many colonies nesting in the aboveground roots of a group of large palm trees, alongside Monomorium ergatogyna nesting in the same way. These workers are returning to their nest from a peanut they had been excavating, at 10X magnification.

 

Edit: fixed images, changed Pheidole moerens to Pheidole navigans, added a header with the date posted.


Edited by TestSubjectOne, October 16 2020 - 3:31 PM.

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Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#2 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted September 18 2020 - 3:39 PM

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9/18/2020:

 

Finally, I finally bit the bullet and set up a proper incubator for my desert ants last night. Although it only consists of a small Styrofoam box, a 5 watt heating mat and a cheap thermostat, it is miles better than my previous "hot closet" solution. I currently have the thermostat set to 90 degrees, although the temperature in most of the box is lower. I'm glad that I got it set up, and I expect it to boost my Veromessor and Novomessor brood.

IMG 20200918 142232
IMG 20200918 142311
IMG 20200918 142306

Shortly after my last update, my Veromessors began acting strangely. They ate their only pupa, were tugging cotton, and seemed generally agitated. I also noticed some streaks on their tube similar to those on my sickly Novomessor, although the queen layed a new batch of eggs so it does not look like she has a similar issue. I have no idea what is wrong with them, so I did what I could to upgrade their living conditions and food options. They got moved into a pencil box formicarium with honey, more seed options, water, apple and a piece of dried caterpillar. When I moved them into the incubator I also gave them a clean test tube if they need to move. I haven't noticed any more decline, so I'm going to and see if they recover.

IMG 20200917 175840
IMG 20200917 175857

Queen 4 continued refusing to lay in her test tube, so I moved her into a pencil box case with dirt and a wet cotton ball. While she was in an empty pencil box waiting for the transfer, she left more of the substance I had found at the bottom of her test tube, this time in a spiraling pattern like she had been laying down a scent trail. I suspect that this substance and her lack of eggs are connected. Perhaps some disease or genetic defect had caused her eggs to turn into this mush? Whatever the case, she stayed in her pencil box for a few more days before falling over dead. Unfortunate, but not unexpected.

A few days ago, while I was checking on my natural setup queen, I accidentally pulled down the rolled shirt holding my two test tube queens and they fell 6 feet onto my wooden floor :facepalm: . Queen 3's tube shattered and she got loose, but I managed to recapture and retube her. Her eggs had stayed in a ball at the unbroken end of her tube, so I got most if not all of them into her new tube along with some fresh seeds and an apple slice (peeled and washed). Queen 2's tube was not damaged, but she had eggs and seeds fly everywhere as well as flooding. I used a q-tip to dry her tube, but I couldn't do much about the mess. I gave her an apple slice as well and put them both away. While moving them to the incubator and taking pictures of them (picture one and two are queen two, queen three is similar), I noticed that queen 2 has a mite on her leg. She had it when she arrived, but it had disappeared soon after so I assumed it was dead. For the time being, I plan to leave it on as it doesn't seem like it can cause her much harm but I worry it could reproduce if left alone. I'd appreciate advice on how or whether I should kill it.

Queen 1, meanwhile, has been thriving. She has expanded her chamber away from the plastic on her nest, so I can't see her unless she chooses to leave. Fortunately, she doesn't seem the least bit timid and will rush out at the slightest disturbance, sometimes carrying an egg ball nearly the size of the other queens' combined. I also left her an apple slice which I think she has eaten from. I have her next to her sisters in the incubator. I plan to leave them alone for a few weeks, so this should be my last update on them for a while. I hope to find larvae the next time I check.

VID 20200918 100355 exported 99887 1600463237837
VID 20200918 100605 exported 9035 1600449125870
VID 20200918 100605 exported 43275 1600463320630
VID 20200918 100850 exported 132788 1600463951570

I've gone on a few walks around my neighborhood, but unfortunately have only found Argentines and the same few species of cryptic ants. I hope to find Cardiocondyla mauritanica, another exotic cryptic species that I have seen nearby, but so far I've had no luck. I took these pictures of a colony of Pheidole navigans in my yard with my 60X phone lense . This colony seems to have decided to relocate from the pavement crack they had been living in to an identical crack six feet away, so I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of them hauling brood around.


Edited by TestSubjectOne, September 18 2020 - 4:15 PM.

Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#3 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted September 24 2020 - 7:11 PM

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9/18/2020:

 

 

Novomessor cockerelli:

 

Today I brought the queens out to see if being in the incubator has helped them progress and to give dried bloodworms to the two test tube queens. Sorry for not taking pictures of them, but bad lighting made Macrophotography impossible. Next time I update I will take them out at a brighter time of day to get some photos and an accurate brood count.

I checked on Queen 1 first. She has dug deep into her dirt setup which prevents me from seeing her brood although I am sure she is the farthest along of my queens. She already has piles of seeds and bloodworms stashed away somewhere underground so I didn't give her any more this time. I did, however, take her box to the sink and hydrate her soil, especially at the opposite end of her setup to create a moisture gradient. Because I can't see the water level of her dirt tank like I could a test tube forgetting to hydrate her is a real possibility although I'm sure she is adapted to handle dehydration.  While I was watering her, she ran in and out of her nest looking for danger but didn't carry brood. When I checked on the two test tube queens the first think I noticed was that both tubes had extensive mold growth centered on their apple slices. Neither queen seemed worried about the mold and queen three even had her brood pile in contact with it. I decided to leave the mold to run its course, besides some easily accessible mold I removed from Queen 2's tube. Queen two is back to her usual swift growth after losing half her eggs and has several larvae, including one which has ballooned to many times the size of the egg it hatched from atmost six days prior. Her other larvae are much smaller and look freshly hatched. Queen 3, meanwhile,  has not yet had a single egg hatch. I don't know if this is the result of my heat or just natural growth, but I am very impressed at the growth of Queen 2's larvae. I currently have the heat at 86 Fahrenheit. These queens are highly aggressive. When opened Queen 2's tube to feed her she wasted no time in rushing straight to the end of her tube and repeatedly biting at the finger I was using to block it. I could feel her jaws tickling my skin but she failed to get a grip on it - if she had, I have no doubt it would've hurt. I moved her to a collection container so I could put food in her tube and remove mold unmolested. I have decided to name her Hippolyta after the legendary queen of the warlike Amazons. Queen three also reacted aggressively but didn't attack me. Camponotus sansabeanus queens get the title of "mean queen" but these girls put them to shame in terms of sheer belligerence.

My Veromessor pergandei had some good brood growth but no eclosures that I can see. They have stopped acting strangely since I made some changes, but remain in their old test tube.

I would like to hear your opinions on whether I should expand this journal or begin writing on any of my other small colonies including: Camponotus sansabeanus, Camponotus fragilis and Brachymyrmex patagonicus or founding queens (once/if they get workers): 2 species of large Crematogaster, 2 unidentified Solenopsis thief ants (likely infertile) and more Brachymyrmex patagonicus. I'd enjoy writing about another colony or two but want to write about the ants that you would like to read about. 

 

Macrophotography:

 

Mite 1
Mite 2

Recently, I noticed a ton of what I'd assumed to be springtails in my Isopod cultures. A few days ago I pulled a decaying leaf from a culture and took some pictures of them through my 60X macro lens. They are tiny so even with good lighting and a high magnification the pictures came out blurry. They appear to be some kind of decomposing mite but I have no clue what to ID them as, or if they even are mites. I'd appreciate it if someone with more knowledge on mites could give me an ID, even a general one. 


Edited by TestSubjectOne, September 24 2020 - 7:13 PM.

Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#4 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted September 26 2020 - 9:41 AM

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9/26/2020:

 

Veromessor pergandei: 

 

IMG 20200926 101446
IMG 20200926 101508

 

Today I took my Veromessor pergandei out of the incubator to check on them and take some pictures. They now have two pupae, a nearly hatched small worker and a large worker that's far from hatching. They also have a few medium-large larvae (not all are in the pictures) and a large egg pile. One thing that concerns me is that while I had earlier counted nine workers, now I can only find seven. It is likely that they are hiding under or near the queen, but there is a possibility they died. They currently only have access to seeds and dried bloodworms for food, no honey or other insects and are kept in my incubator at 85-89 degrees. This setup seems to be working well for them and I'm sure the high temperatures are what triggered the queen's egg-laying spree.


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Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#5 Online ANTdrew - Posted September 27 2020 - 3:23 AM

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Great detailed start to the journal. These are the kind of ants I’d keep first if I lived in CA.
I would group your journals by genus. In my opinion, too many species in a journal gets confusing.
That magnified mite could be a grain mite. They are harmless, but they can really explode in population creating an unsightly annoyance. I dealt with a huge outbreak of them this summer by adding predatory mites from several different species into my set ups.

Edited by ANTdrew, September 28 2020 - 2:22 AM.

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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#6 Offline Kaelwizard - Posted September 27 2020 - 8:08 AM

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I would keep Novimessor cockerelli and Pogonomyrmex rugosus as my go to harvesters if I lived in Cali.

Edited by Kaelwizard, September 27 2020 - 8:09 AM.

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Aphaenogaster queen w/ brood.

 

4 Crematogaster queens - Single queen and trio.


#7 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted September 27 2020 - 12:52 PM

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Great detailed start to the journal. These are the kind of ants I’d keep first if I lived in CA.
I would group your journals by genus. In my opinion, too many species in a journal gets confusing.
That magnified mite could be a grain mite. They are harmless, but they can really explode in popularion creating an unsightly annoyance. I dealt with a huge outbreak of them this summer by adding predatory mites from several different species into my set ups.

Thank you for the input. If I decide to write about more species, I will give them journals by Genus or species at the largest. It's good to know about those mites. While I have no problem with them in my Isopods, I'll definitely keep them far away from my ants to avoid an infestation. By the way, I'm currently reading through your Crematogaster divas journal and love it. In fact, you inspired me to name my Novomessor queen Hippolyta after Greek Mythology. I have a large Crematogaster queen nearing pupae and I hope her colony gets as large as yours. I plan to write a journal on her once she gets nanitics.


Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#8 Online ANTdrew - Posted September 27 2020 - 3:59 PM

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Thank you! That journal and colony is a real labor of love. Hippolyta is a good name.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#9 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted October 2 2020 - 3:34 PM

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10/2/2020:

 

Veromessor pergandei: This colony has continued to thrive in the incubator. They had, I think, two eclosures since I last checked on them and have a number of larvae as well as a large pile of eggs. The one concern I have is that their incubator has a high humidity which seems to be warping the larvae, many of which now have a long and thin "tentacle" at the end of their bodies that I have not seen before. Despite this, they seem to be pupating fine and I have taken measures to reduce humidity by periodically airing the incubator and removing this colony's spare tube. Unfortunately, despite photographing them at better light, I couldn't get any clear pictures due to the condensation coating the wet end of their test tube so I gave up.  I hope next week will yield better conditions for photos.

 

Novomessor cockerelli:

IMG 20201002 122851
IMG 20201002 123051(1)
Both of my test tube queens now have larvae. I fed all three queens two prekilled termite alates each to supplement the seed mix and dried bloodworm they already have. I disturbed Queen one while I was opening my incubator and she left her hole to search for the disturbance as usual. While at first she would emerge with a ball of eggs she now carried nothing with her. I hope this is a sign of her having larvae but there is also the possibility her brood died - I suppose we will have to wait and see. Queen two (image one) hatched her first small larvae in the past week. While removing her to feed termites and remove the moldy slice of apple that has been sitting adjacent to her brood, she bit my finger. It was surprisingly painful and serves as a reminder of how adorably self-confident these queens are. I love the good lighting in this photo, both how clearly it shows the larvae and brings out the dark reds in this species that normally look black. Hippolyta (image two) has more larval growth and hatches than before. At the rate her larvae are growing, I would optimistically guess that she gets her first pupa in one or two weeks. While her brood has grown, her test tube has become more filthy. Her water is half emptied and has turned an algal-green color. She also has some kind of growth coating her test tube which blurred the pictures I took. I suspect this is because her tube is stuffed with toilet paper rather than cotton like my others. Once she gets her first worker, I'll transfer them into a pencil-box formicarium where they will have a spare test tube to move into. Hopefully they'll be more cooperative than my Veromessor pergandei.

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Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#10 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted October 4 2020 - 5:29 PM

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10/4/2020:

 

IMG 20201004 103944
IMG 20201004 104007

 

Today I took my Veromessor pergandei colony out of the incubator for some quick photos. I've discovered that their tube will fog up after being in direct sunlight for a short time so it is best to keep them shaded until it is time to take photos and work fast. As you can see, they have two well-developed pupae as well as some larvae and a ton of eggs. I counted ten workers at present but those two pupae should eclose before my next update. They have a boom coming once those eggs mature. At present they are only given dried bloodworms and dspdrew's seed mix. They show no interest in sugars. I love their how polymorphism gives each ant a tad more individual character and recognizability than the normal monomorphism. Unfortunately, this colony appears to be infested with grain mites. I have not seen any in their nest myself but the spare tube I took from them was covered. At present, I plan to control the mites down to insignificant numbers by lowering the humidity in this nest. The trouble is, my small incubator is reaching high humidity levels due to all the damp tubes together in a confined space. I plan to put in some anti-humidity silica gel packets as well as eventually splitting my colonies between two incubators - "regular maintainence" and "leave alone". One fear I have is that by keeping the majority of my colonies in a dark incubator 24/7 I will be conditioning them to be unable to cope with light or physical disturbance which makes maintenance difficult and observing their natural behaviors near impossible. What is the point of caring for and owning a collection of "Schrodinger's ants" which I can never see for fear of disturbing them? I could directly heat them with a mat or cable but that would not work as well as atmospheric heating especially on small colonies. I wonder if I could design a clear lid or artificial lighting in the future to acclimate them, but for now I guess I'll just have to live with my ants in a box.

 

Edit: Removed off-topic update. Will be posted in my Crematogaster sp. journal later this week.


Edited by TestSubjectOne, October 4 2020 - 10:53 PM.

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Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#11 Online AntsDakota - Posted October 5 2020 - 6:42 AM

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To better simulate their natural cycle, you could take them off the incubator and keep them at room temp or slightly above for the coldest months of the year. Just a suggestion.  :)


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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

 

Join our fledgling but growing AntsDakota Discord community! https://discord.gg/vkwjYzz

 

We're also excited about our new rising franchise: AntsDakota.com
 


#12 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted October 9 2020 - 6:30 PM

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10/9/2020:

 

Veromessor pergandei:

 

This colony has continued to grow at an explosive rate. They had 2 new eclosures and a death since my last update, putting them at eleven workers. One of the new workers is significantly larger than the others, the first non-nanitic. They have two new pupae of a similar size and their massive pile of eggs has turned into a similarly massive pile of small larvae. There hasn't been any noticeable harm from those "warped" larvae which I now think may have just been normal larvae stretching out to eat. To combat humidity I ordered a hundred silica gel packets off Amazon that I will cycle weekly to keep my incubator "dry as a desert". This should also control any grain mite* infestations although I haven't spotted any since removing the spare tube. I recently got feeder colonies of mealworms, fruit flies and rice flour beetles and decided to supplement their diet with some insect protein due to their piles of growing larvae. While I have never had success with feeding them crickets or house flies they went nuts for their first mealworm and had it half hollowed out within a few hours.

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I also caught a one of their larvae munching on a dried bloodworm. I'm glad to have confirmation that they are being eaten.
IMG 20201009 145947
 
Novomessor cockerelli:
 

Hippolyta has pupae! I see three so far and one larva that looks nearly there. The pupae is surprisingly thin and elegant, similar to the adult ants of this species. There is also a smattering of eggs and small larvae which are mostly obscured by the dirty glass. I've heard that in this species the pupal stage is long and could take up to a month. I do not know whether this is accurate or accounts for heating but I'm prepared for a long wait nonetheless. Queen two is still at medium larva which is slower than Hippolyta's larvae. Fortunately her tube is clean and high on water so she can afford to take her time.

IMG 20201008 172201

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Meanwhile, Queen one presumably tends her brood underground. I like to think that she is ahead of the other queens in development but I have little to back that up. I did see her emerge again carrying a ball of eggs and small larvae larger than those of the other queens, but that says little about how her older brood are doing or if they still live. I hypothesize that she is investing in a larger initial brood because she collected and stored all her food herself, giving her a better understanding of how much she has than the test tube queens who did not. She showed wisdom and prudence both in collecting and storing large amounts of food to feed her future larvae and choosing to raise more brood as a result of this surplus so I name her Metis after the Titan of wisdom in Greek Mythology. When I was checking on her I noticed a new hole near the opposite side of her container that on further inspection yielded a cautious pair of antennae. I spent a few minutes celebrating before I decided to investigate further and discovered that the antennae belonged to an earwig. Besides the initial disappointment I'm glad that my setup is hosting some insect diversity/dietary supplements. I found at least two earwigs living in the burrow, which conveniently leads to a chamber right against the plastic wall. Maybe we'll get to see some baby earwigs up close.

 

 

* After researching mites, I've come to the conclusion that most ant colony mite infestations that are attributed to grain mites are in actuality caused by dust mites. These look basically the same but are found in virtually every house and eat all kinds of dead matter and waste. They fit the description a lot better than grain mites and can pop up out of nowhere just like many of these infestations do.

 

 


  • ANTdrew and Dry_Twig like this

Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#13 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted October 16 2020 - 3:31 PM

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10/16/2020:

 

Veromessor pergandei:

 

The most recent eclosures in this colony have all been significantly larger than the nanitics. Assuming that they are only the first regular minor workers, I wonder how large the majors of his colony will be. I've seen pictures of the first majors in Messor barbatus dwarfing the nanitic surrounding them. The eggs have hatched into numerous small larvae which are carefully spaced across the floor of the test tube. The queen has also lain another batch of eggs about half the size of her first. Will they ever slow down? I'll take pictures next week.

 

Novomessor cockerelli:

 

Hippolyta has her first nanitic! It is a lot bigger than expected; perhaps having easy access to food allowed her to raise her nanitics to be at or near the size of regular workers? Whatever the case, she has taken full advantage of her food supply, feeding her larvae all the seeds and bloodworms I had given her. On top of that, her tube was disgusting. I made a quick pencil box formicarium with soil dug up from my yard before dumping the queen, worker, and brood into the outworld along with some honey cotton for sugar. They immediately filled up on honey although their gasters didn't noticeably expand because they lack a social stomach, the organ that ants normally use to transport or store liquid food. They moved themselves and their brood into their new tube overnight and seem to have settled in well. I poured in a ton of seeds and a few fruit flies for protein.

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Queen two has her first pupa and four more large larvae nearing pupation but is otherwise deficient in brood. I moved Queen two's tube into an identical setup and gave her the same food as Hippolyta.
Metis shows no signs of workers. I gave her some honey cotton and she came out to drink from it.
 
Additional Photos:
IMG 20201016 125052
This is a picture I took of my incubator when a few colonies were out for maintainance. I keep the silica gel packets, which have effectively controlled the humidity inside my incubator, against the 5 watt heating pad in the least temperate part of the incubator. The deli cup holds my culture of rice flour beetles, an underrated and low-maintenance feeder.
 

 


  • ANTdrew likes this

Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#14 Offline TheAntGuy - Posted October 18 2020 - 11:26 PM

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That worker doesn't actually look all that large for a nanitic, mine are around the same size.

Edited by TheAntGuy, October 18 2020 - 11:26 PM.

Currently keeping:
A load of ants, 2 Siberian huskies, 2 cats, 2 fire belly toads, 1 western toad, 1 western fence lizard, 1 A. Seemanni tarantula, and a variety of feeders.

Check out my youtube!

https://youtube.com/channel/UC0qipnEGshHP2FhJwAbzunA

 

Check out my Instagram!

https://www.instagram.com/theantguy17/

Have a great day!


#15 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted October 19 2020 - 7:35 AM

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That worker doesn't actually look all that large for a nanitic, mine are around the same size.

They get bigger?!


Currently Keeping:

- Camponotus sansabeanus (1 queen, 1-10 workers)   Camponotus semitestaceous (1 queen)   Camponotus lavigatus (1 queen, 1 worker)

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 10-20 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (2 queens)

- Myrmcocystus mexicanus - boosted - (1 queen, 5 workers), (1 queen)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens 20-30 workers), (1 queen), (1 queen)   Solenopsis cf. molesta (1 queen), Temnothorax sp. (1 queen)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 1-10 workers), (1 queen)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 30 workers)

- Incisitermes minor / Drywood Termite (tons)


#16 Offline TheAntGuy - Posted October 19 2020 - 8:06 AM

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As far as I know, yes.

Currently keeping:
A load of ants, 2 Siberian huskies, 2 cats, 2 fire belly toads, 1 western toad, 1 western fence lizard, 1 A. Seemanni tarantula, and a variety of feeders.

Check out my youtube!

https://youtube.com/channel/UC0qipnEGshHP2FhJwAbzunA

 

Check out my Instagram!

https://www.instagram.com/theantguy17/

Have a great day!






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