I have a recently caught Camponotus pennsylvanicus queen that I put in a standard test tube setup with distilled water, cotton ball plug, etc. and then covered with aluminum foil. I left a little bit of the test tube not entirely covered with foil as I heard that C. pennsylvanicus is ok with a little ambient light when founding a colony.
I placed the whole setup near a 15 watt heating cable, allowing for her to choose her temperature gradient.
Unfortunately, I checked on her today and she was moving very slowly and had a lot of cotton fibers clinging to her legs and abdomen. I've read that it is normal for this species to mess around with the cotton and pick at it, but it now looks like she is truly exhausted and perhaps frustrated/stressed?
This morning I carefully removed the bulk of the cotton fibers from her using forceps. I replaced the cotton stopper holding the water back with a cutting of a bunched up cotton t-shirt. I figured the woven cotton fibers of the t-shirt will not come apart from her chewing and picking at it (at least not as easily as the simple cotton ball). So far, it seems to be doing the work of the cotton stopper just fine.
Right now she has about 3 body lengths of space in the test tube to use as her founding chamber.
Do you think she needs more heat?
Should I try to feed her some honey water in order to help her regain her strength after all of that struggling with the cotton?
I don't want to lose her. What can I do to calm her down/ make her happy? How much room should she have in the test tube?