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Oak Galls as nests

formicaria oak gall natural material

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#1 Offline skocko76 - Posted December 4 2020 - 9:53 AM

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Not sure if the galls are the same in Americas, but here in the Mediterranean, the galls are hard and wood-like balls.

 

IMG 20201204 184000
 

I always entertained an idea of fashioning some of them into nests, but I have never opened one. Until today.

I assumed them to have a thick shell and be hollow inside...based on knocking sound they make when knocked against one another.

To my surprise, the shell is actually quite thin (but hard), and the insides are filled with a peculiar substance...a crossbreed between cork/sponge/dirt. It is solid, but crumbles to dust when scraped with an utensil.

 

IMG 20201204 184323
 
I googled if that would be an appropriate medium for ants, and lo and behold, I found this document: https://www.ncbi.nlm...les/PMC6920797/
Apparently, ants use them as nests!  :rolleyes:
Have you experimented with them, and what is your experience?
 
Also, looks like oak galls are different across the world - from what I can tell from google images...

Edited by skocko76, December 4 2020 - 9:54 AM.

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#2 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted December 4 2020 - 10:08 AM

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wow! that would be an amazing nest for temnothorax! it looks pretty spacious as well! i have never used them, but it seems a great idea!


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#3 Offline skocko76 - Posted December 4 2020 - 10:28 AM

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Yeah, apparently (according to the doc) they often house Crematogaster scutellaris, Colobopsis truncata, and Temnothorax sp. The ones in my hand are the largest I found in my recent hike, but I've seen considerably larger. Most are considerably smaller, though, so galls can be selected according to required size :)
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#4 Offline MysticNanitic - Posted December 5 2020 - 6:31 AM

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Minus the dark ring, the oak galls I find on our native California Live Oak look very similar.
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#5 Offline skocko76 - Posted December 7 2020 - 12:03 PM

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The die is cast.

I drilled small holes in the side of a couple of galls, and offered them my C. scutellaris colony of 80 workers.

My hope is that they will dig galleries in them, and then be sawn in half later to admire the natural shape and arrangement of tunnels and rooms.

My guess is that they won't move in with the queen, as they have proven to be very stubborn at deciding to relocate.

 

I read that oak galls were/are used as traditional medicine for a range of infections, mostly in mouth cavity and post birth. They are also used as a source of tannin.

Looks like oaks secrete tannin into galls to fend off hymenoptera and monoptera.... weird considering the galls are wasp induced. Be that as it may, ants use them as nests in the wild, so I guess it does not bother them. The good side of tannin is that it kills bacteria, and hopefully moulds, so it could work towards this being a perfect nest medium.

 

Time will tell. I did my part, the rest is relying on the whim of my colony.

 

IMG 20201207 195135

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#6 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted December 7 2020 - 12:10 PM

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can't wait to see the results!


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Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

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#7 Offline Swirlysnowflake - Posted December 7 2020 - 12:12 PM

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can't wait to see the results!

Me too! For some reason, I've never seen a gall. If I do see one, I'll have to try this


Edited by Swirlysnowflake, December 7 2020 - 12:12 PM.

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#8 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted December 7 2020 - 12:17 PM

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can't wait to see the results!

Me too! For some reason, I've never seen a gall. If I do see one, I'll have to try this

 

never seen a gall either, but we do have walnuts, which are large, and i bet temnothorax live there


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Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

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#9 Offline skocko76 - Posted December 7 2020 - 1:47 PM

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can't wait to see the results!

Me too! For some reason, I've never seen a gall. If I do see one, I'll have to try this

 

never seen a gall either, but we do have walnuts, which are large, and i bet temnothorax live there

 

 

Walnuts are hollow inside (if you remove the flesh, or it rots away. - Although I bet Temnothorax do live there.)

Galls on the other hand, are filled with cork-like substance, except for a small central hollow for the wasp's puparium. This makes them much better as ants can hollow out galleries as they see fit.

Oak galls are found on the underside of leaves (where the wasps inject their egg). This means that, come Fall, they fall off with the leaves.

So, if there are any oak trees or woods around where you live, just take a stroll and look at the ground under the branches. There should be a bunch.


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#10 Offline Mettcollsuss - Posted December 7 2020 - 2:27 PM

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I've thought about doing something similar with the walnut shells I often see all over the ground in forests. They naturally come with some chamber-like shapes in them so I always thought about using them for Myrmentoma or other hollow twig/nut dwelling ants.


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#11 Offline AntsDakota - Posted December 7 2020 - 2:51 PM

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I've thought about doing something similar with the walnut shells I often see all over the ground in forests. They naturally come with some chamber-like shapes in them so I always thought about using them for Myrmentoma or other hollow twig/nut dwelling ants.

I would do this, however I barely have any walnut shells, Myrmentoma, or Temnothorax.  :lol:  :facepalm: 


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#12 Offline skocko76 - Posted December 7 2020 - 3:02 PM

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Hahaha same here.
Never had Temnothorax, so I may be speaking out of line here, but it seems to me that a walnut could accommodate about a 1000 C scutellaris... Wouldn't that be too spacious for Temnothorax?

#13 Offline steelplant - Posted December 7 2020 - 3:26 PM

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Here in uk we get several different shapes of oak galls, determined by the species of wasp that inhabited it. Perfect nest as the departing wasp leaves a nice nest entrance hole. The round ones here were used to make the black ink in medieval manuscripts. The ink hasn't faded in all this time.

Looking forward to seeing how they get on.
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#14 Offline ANTdrew - Posted December 7 2020 - 5:27 PM

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The US Constitution was also written with oak gall ink, I believe.
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#15 Offline Swirlysnowflake - Posted December 7 2020 - 6:38 PM

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The US Constitution was also written with oak gall ink, I believe.

that's cool. Good marketing strategy. "Ant nests! Made out of the same material the constitution was written with! Get your own US Constitution ant nest today!"


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#16 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted December 7 2020 - 7:09 PM

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I've thought about doing something similar with the walnut shells I often see all over the ground in forests. They naturally come with some chamber-like shapes in them so I always thought about using them for Myrmentoma or other hollow twig/nut dwelling ants.

I would do this, however I barely have any walnut shells, Myrmentoma, or Temnothorax.  :lol:  :facepalm: 

 

same here... a little short on all the materials...


Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

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#17 Offline Kaelwizard - Posted December 8 2020 - 4:36 AM

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I've thought about doing something similar with the walnut shells I often see all over the ground in forests. They naturally come with some chamber-like shapes in them so I always thought about using them for Myrmentoma or other hollow twig/nut dwelling ants.

Wait you're back?


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#18 Offline skocko76 - Posted December 8 2020 - 8:49 AM

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Seems to be working... :)

 

IMG 20201208 135143
IMG 20201208 135227
 
You can see the sawdust they threw out on the rock below

Edited by skocko76, December 8 2020 - 8:51 AM.

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#19 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted December 8 2020 - 8:58 AM

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Seems to be working... :)

 

 
 
 
You can see the sawdust they threw out on the rock below

 

YES! this is awesome! i wish i had some of these around me!


Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

My Journals

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Camponotus novaeboracensis Journal

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Attention Ant-Keepers in South Dakota! Join the SoDak(Society Of Dakotan Ant Keepers)

Learn about our website AntsDakota, and help us develop and publish it

Join ouDiscord, where you can discuss your anting ideas in peace, and learn more about AntsDakota.com


#20 Offline skocko76 - Posted December 9 2020 - 2:10 AM

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Seems to be working... :)

 

 
 
 
You can see the sawdust they threw out on the rock below

 

YES! this is awesome! i wish i had some of these around me!

 

Next time I go for a hike I can collect some for you. I mostly find them up mountain paths, well away from settlements and pollution. Not sure when my next hike will be though...


Edited by skocko76, December 9 2020 - 2:10 AM.

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