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TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping


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#1 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 12 2021 - 12:31 AM

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Hello everyone. I've been antkeeping for almost a year now, though I have had an interest in ants for most of my life and occasionally lurked here. When I purchased my colonies, I began writing several standard journals for them, but found the process tiresome. The pace of my updates began to slow down and I soon saw them as a chore more than anything else. Eventually I stopped updating my journals altogether and took a break from the forum. When I came back I intended to remain away from my journals but after a thread got me thinking about what I liked and disliked about the process of journaling I decided to try writing a general journal as opposed to a journal for each individual species. My intention is that this journal will focus on the highs and lows of my colonies' lives, the behaviors and care of my ants, and anything else that catches my interest about my colonies rather than logging their growth. A general journal like this isn't a unique idea, but I'm excited to see if this format will better fit my needs than individual journals. With my introduction out of the way, it's time for you to meet my ants. All of my colonies are near a year of age now, including Crematogaster sp., Liometopum occidentale, Veromessor pergandei, Camponotus absqualator, Novomessor cockerelli, Myrmecocystus mexicanus and Brachymyrmex patagonicus. I purchased all of them as queens or founding colonies with the exception of my locally collected Brachymyrmex patagonicus. In addition, I have a queen of Camponotus semitestaceous that got to pupae last season before losing her brood. After I kept her alive for months on only honey, I chose to give her another chance and nurse her back to health. Because I wanted to give her more individual attention than a test tube allows, I put her in a small deli cup complete with a honey and water cotton ball and regularly supplied cricket legs for protein. Although she spent months without laying an egg previously, the legs gave her enough protein to lay a new batch and she now has several small larvae. I'm interested to see whether I can succor this queen to getting her nanitics a year late and from there establishing a healthy colony.

My Camponotus absqualator colony is my newest, bought last year on November 4 from M_Ants at 6 workers. Although I'd heard that they are merely a smaller version of C. fragilis, they seemed to me to be slightly larger than my previous colony of that species and where my fragilis wasted away for an unknown reason, they have thrived uninterrupted. As they grew feeding them in their test tube became progressively harder and eventually I had to move them into a plaster tubs and tubes setup that I recently moved my Liometopum occidentale from. They've lived in that setup since then and once their original tube ran dry I added a second. They inhabit both now, wet and dry. Throughout this 250 day saga they have grown at an astounding rate for their genus. I would estimate that their size is now at 70 workers, but they pack together like sardines so I have no confidence in that guess. However, the most interesting aspect of their growth is that over the past several months they have hatched out four majors. From my research I believe that Camponotus absqualator is bimorphic, but there is clear size variation among the majors so I'm holding out hope for a new generation of yet larger majors. They are significantly larger than regular workers and sport massive muscular heads with vicious looking (and feeling!) jaws. Despite their obvious fighting role the colony seems more interested in protecting them than vice versa. They don't act more aggressively than a regular worker and will often hide away at the first sign of danger. Perhaps they will grow some backbones once the colony is larger, because otherwise I can't see them being any use. Useful or not, they are gorgeous ants and I took them outside for some pictures well lit pictures just before sunset. Until recently this would not have been possible but a week ago I applied fluon to each of my colonies' outworld, using a mini vacuum emptied into a fluoned container to contain escapees. This process is rough and killed several ants but is faster than aspirating and doesn't expose my lungs to formic acid produced by some of my colonies. Nevertheless, I'm considering buying an aspirator as a less harmful alternative. Without further ado, here are some pictures and clips of this beautiful colony.

 

This worker is engorged with honey, almost like a replete. The way the light plays off the honey in her gaster reminds me of Myrmecocystus as well. She wandered around like a normal worker, but during my time watching her I saw her feeding a sister worker through trophallaxis.

PXL 20210709 181040551
 
Here is a major standing amidst several minor workers. Notice how the major's immense head size moves her eyes from the sides closer to the middle of her head
PXL 20210712 020526875
 
This is the entrance to the colony's two tubes. The original rests in a cavity formed in the plaster to hold it while the other is pushed between it and the side. Unfortunately, despite taking precautions when I inserted the second tube it still crushed a worker against the floor. Within days the colony managed to extract the flattened corpse from under the tube and dispose of it. The colony has only used the second tube for water up until recently when they began to put brood in it though it is unable to fit the full colony. They aren't too picky about where the put their brood and will sometimes leave pupae on the ground outside the nest altogether. I have a THA Nucleus coming in the mail for my Veromessor pergandei and when they have been moved out of their Fallen Fortress it will be passed down to this colony.
PXL 20210712 020523191
 
A wider view of the nest
PXL 20210712 020551132

 

Here is a gif of one of the majors moving to show how FAST these girls go when scared, despite their size. Under their feeding dish you can catch a glimpse of their mysterious volunteer cleaner crew which I believe to be booklice. They seem to be harmless, but have taken over many locatgions in my room with worrying ease including the dried oat dust at the bottom of an old mealworm container and a bone-dry graveyard formicarium.

PXL 20210712 020556747.LS
 
I tried to get a picture of the queen as best as I can, but the glare was bad and the roof of the dry tube is covered in cotton fibers so this was the best I could get.
PXL 20210712 020831071

 

 

Finally, I present a major and some minors walking around in their wet tube. This is probably my favorite capture of the day.

PXL 20210712 020636272.LS
 
 
 
That's all for the first entry to my journal. For my next post I'll give a tour of my Novomessor cockerelli colony. I would like to thank you all for reading this far. Discussion and advice is welcome.

 

 

 

 


Edited by TestSubjectOne, July 12 2021 - 12:31 AM.

  • B_rad0806, ANTdrew, Antkeeper01 and 4 others like this

TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#2 Offline DIACAMMAWORLDCOOL - Posted July 12 2021 - 12:49 AM

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Hello everyone. I've been antkeeping for almost a year now, though I have had an interest in ants for most of my life and occasionally lurked here. When I purchased my colonies, I began writing several standard journals for them, but found the process tiresome. The pace of my updates began to slow down and I soon saw them as a chore more than anything else. Eventually I stopped updating my journals altogether and took a break from the forum. When I came back I intended to remain away from my journals but after a thread got me thinking about what I liked and disliked about the process of journaling I decided to try writing a general journal as opposed to a journal for each individual species. My intention is that this journal will focus on the highs and lows of my colonies' lives, the behaviors and care of my ants, and anything else that catches my interest about my colonies rather than logging their growth. A general journal like this isn't a unique idea, but I'm excited to see if this format will better fit my needs than individual journals. With my introduction out of the way, it's time for you to meet my ants. All of my colonies are near a year of age now, including Crematogaster sp., Liometopum occidentale, Veromessor pergandei, Camponotus absqualator, Novomessor cockerelli, Myrmecocystus mexicanus and Brachymyrmex patagonicus. I purchased all of them as queens or founding colonies with the exception of my locally collected Brachymyrmex patagonicus. In addition, I have a queen of Camponotus semitestaceous that got to pupae last season before losing her brood. After I kept her alive for months on only honey, I chose to give her another chance and nurse her back to health. Because I wanted to give her more individual attention than a test tube allows, I put her in a small deli cup complete with a honey and water cotton ball and regularly supplied cricket legs for protein. Although she spent months without laying an egg previously, the legs gave her enough protein to lay a new batch and she now has several small larvae. I'm interested to see whether I can succor this queen to getting her nanitics a year late and from there establishing a healthy colony.

My Camponotus absqualator colony is my newest, bought last year on November 4 from M_Ants at 6 workers. Although I'd heard that they are merely a smaller version of C. fragilis, they seemed to me to be slightly larger than my previous colony of that species and where my fragilis wasted away for an unknown reason, they have thrived uninterrupted. As they grew feeding them in their test tube became progressively harder and eventually I had to move them into a plaster tubs and tubes setup that I recently moved my Liometopum occidentale from. They've lived in that setup since then and once their original tube ran dry I added a second. They inhabit both now, wet and dry. Throughout this 250 day saga they have grown at an astounding rate for their genus. I would estimate that their size is now at 70 workers, but they pack together like sardines so I have no confidence in that guess. However, the most interesting aspect of their growth is that over the past several months they have hatched out four majors. From my research I believe that Camponotus absqualator is bimorphic, but there is clear size variation among the majors so I'm holding out hope for a new generation of yet larger majors. They are significantly larger than regular workers and sport massive muscular heads with vicious looking (and feeling!) jaws. Despite their obvious fighting role the colony seems more interested in protecting them than vice versa. They don't act more aggressively than a regular worker and will often hide away at the first sign of danger. Perhaps they will grow some backbones once the colony is larger, because otherwise I can't see them being any use. Useful or not, they are gorgeous ants and I took them outside for some pictures well lit pictures just before sunset. Until recently this would not have been possible but a week ago I applied fluon to each of my colonies' outworld, using a mini vacuum emptied into a fluoned container to contain escapees. This process is rough and killed several ants but is faster than aspirating and doesn't expose my lungs to formic acid produced by some of my colonies. Nevertheless, I'm considering buying an aspirator as a less harmful alternative. Without further ado, here are some pictures and clips of this beautiful colony.

 

This worker is engorged with honey, almost like a replete. The way the light plays off the honey in her gaster reminds me of Myrmecocystus as well. She wandered around like a normal worker, but during my time watching her I saw her feeding a sister worker through trophallaxis.

 
 
Here is a major standing amidst several minor workers. Notice how the major's immense head size moves her eyes from the sides closer to the middle of her head
 
 
This is the entrance to the colony's two tubes. The original rests in a cavity formed in the plaster to hold it while the other is pushed between it and the side. Unfortunately, despite taking precautions when I inserted the second tube it still crushed a worker against the floor. Within days the colony managed to extract the flattened corpse from under the tube and dispose of it. The colony has only used the second tube for water up until recently when they began to put brood in it though it is unable to fit the full colony. They aren't too picky about where the put their brood and will sometimes leave pupae on the ground outside the nest altogether. I have a THA Nucleus coming in the mail for my Veromessor pergandei and when they have been moved out of their Fallen Fortress it will be passed down to this colony.
 
 
A wider view of the nest
 

 

Here is a gif of one of the majors moving to show how FAST these girls go when scared, despite their size. Under their feeding dish you can catch a glimpse of their mysterious volunteer cleaner crew which I believe to be booklice. They seem to be harmless, but have taken over many locatgions in my room with worrying ease including the dried oat dust at the bottom of an old mealworm container and a bone-dry graveyard formicarium.

 
 
I tried to get a picture of the queen as best as I can, but the glare was bad and the roof of the dry tube is covered in cotton fibers so this was the best I could get.
 

 

 

Finally, I present a major and some minors walking around in their wet tube. This is probably my favorite capture of the day.

 
 
 
 
That's all for the first entry to my journal. For my next post I'll give a tour of my Novomessor cockerelli colony. I would like to thank you all for reading this far. Discussion and advice is welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

What I find hard is the whole process of attaching a picture.
Great to have you back.

Great colony.


  • TestSubjectOne, Antkeeper01 and DaAnt like this

#3 Online ANTdrew - Posted July 12 2021 - 3:45 AM

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Great comeback! I’d love to hear about your Crematogaster.
  • TestSubjectOne and Antkeeper01 like this

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

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#4 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 12 2021 - 7:58 AM

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DIACAMMA, you can attach a picture by

 

1: Tae it with your phone

2: Email it to yourself

3: Download the picture to your computer from the email

4: Go to Formiculture, click on your name in the top right and then "My Gallery"

5: Click "Upload"

6: Follow the upload directions

7: Create a post or reply and click on "My Media" in the top center of the text box, where you can add pictures.


TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#5 Offline M_Ants - Posted July 12 2021 - 9:17 AM

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Looking good!!!


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Veromessor pergandei- 3 queens 50ish workers and brood

Veromessor andrei

Myrmecocystus testaceus

Crematogaster sp. 

C. baldies a.k.a bald fraggles a.k.a C. absquatulator

Hypoponera opaciceps

Brachymyrmex patagonicus

https://www.youtube....FG7utFVBA/about


#6 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 12 2021 - 9:19 AM

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Looking good!!!

Thank you for this amazing colony.


TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#7 Offline DIACAMMAWORLDCOOL - Posted July 12 2021 - 7:07 PM

DIACAMMAWORLDCOOL

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DIACAMMA, you can attach a picture by

 

1: Tae it with your phone

2: Email it to yourself

3: Download the picture to your computer from the email

4: Go to Formiculture, click on your name in the top right and then "My Gallery"

5: Click "Upload"

6: Follow the upload directions

7: Create a post or reply and click on "My Media" in the top center of the text box, where you can add pictures.

Dude, I know how to do it. Just mentioned that its a long process.



#8 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 12 2021 - 8:19 PM

TestSubjectOne

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I misread, my bad.


TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#9 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 16 2021 - 1:34 PM

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Today's entry will be centered on my colony of Novomessor cockerelli, which I would estimate is about 80 workers strong. I purchased four broodless queens from dspdrew on August 28, a month shy of a full year ago. I put three into tubes and one in a dirt setup, but soon after arrival one queen died without any brood. I gave each queen a supply of seeds due the this species' semiclaustral nature and waited as they reared their first brood. My dirt setup queen lost her brood, including pupae, and eventually died. My two tube queens, meanwhile, reached nanitics yet my most productive stopped laying and her colony withered away. This left me with only one colony out of four queens, yet they have since enjoyed continuous heath and growth. At first I moved their tube into a pencil case setup but once they outgrew that I upgraded them to a mini hearth. A month of two ago they filled up that mini hearth completely and since then have remained at the same size. To remedy this, I attached a second mini hearth which they quickly expanded into. My hope is that this setup will hold them for a half year or so before I order another shipment from Tarheel Ants.

 

Pencil Case:

IMG 20201212 140834
IMG 20201212 141042

 

Behavior wise, this species is the most aggressive that I own - and that's saying something. Whenever I reach into their enclosure they will run up my finger and bite down hard enough to cause a bit of pain. The queens were similarly aggressive when I was moving them during founding. Whenever I feed them insects they prefer to dismember the corpses and feed the larvae in chunks. They are an extremely clean species in that regard because their larvae will completely consume the prey, carapace and all. They like to hang from the ceiling and hold small larvae in bunches. This seems to be to keep the larvae cleaner or perhaps to make moving them easier. They will sometimes hold food in the same way.

 

Activity in Outworld:

PXL 20210712 015926083.LS

 

Wide View of one Nest:

PXL 20210712 015853702
 
Workers With Brood:
PXL 20210712 015835865
PXL 20210712 015546232
PXL 20210712 015533038
 
I got a pack of Dubia roaches recently and have experimented with feeding them to my colonies. My Novomessor had no problem killing this roach but taking it home was another matter. After removing the legs they spent the day futilely trying to fit the roach into the smaller hole of their nest. They eventually were able to break the roach in half and carry it in, and I'm interested to see whether they will work more efficiently the next time around.
ezgif.com Gif maker

 

Recently these ants have gone through a lot of stress due to my adding a new mini hearth and vacuuming up a large portion of them to install fluon on their outworld. This has caused them to target and attack a few workers, especially callows who presumably smell more foreign. Some workers have died after their gasters were severed while others lost antennae or legs. I noticed in particular that one callow was trying to escape the outworld and when I watched her more closely I saw that whenever she encountered a sister worker she would flatten herself in submission and sometimes would be bitten. After seeing this behavior I removed the callow and took their nest out of my heating box in the hope that their aggression would be lowered. Though a few more dead showed up it seemed that the ants had calmed down and so I returned the callow - who was now treated regularly - and put the colony back into the box. This aggression lasted for about a week and killed about ten workers. I have seen this behavior before in my Liometopum Occidentale when I transported them by car in a box with insufficient ventilation, but in that case the violence stopped immediately after I opened their habitat and dispersed the pheromones. I had not thought before that ants could become stressed for an extended period of time, but that seems to be exactly what happened here. It is also interesting to me that in both cases of intra-colony aggression the queen escaped completely unharmed. I wonder if she could have some pheromonal marking that would keep her workers from attacking her even in the worst of situations.

 

A worker is attacked by her sisters:

PXL 20210712 020133458.LS
 
And here is an old picture of the heat box that I keep talking about. It uses a thermostat and a small heating pad to warm up a styrofoam box that had previously been used to ship meat. This is a fairly inexpensive way to heat ants to a reasonable temperature without risking overheating. Unfortunately, my ant collection has outgrown it long ago and now that the heat pad is failing I'll be moving them into a larger box with a powerful heat cable.
IMG 20201016 125052
 
Finally I would like to shine some light on an interesting feeding experiment I've been doing. Yesterday I took some spare egg yolks from cooking, a high protein and nutritious food, and put them through the microwave for three minutes to solidify them somewhat. The result was a disgusting rubbery-looking solid but more importantly it was usable as a food source for my colonies. I added it and had varied levels of interest from different species. My Novomessor cockerelli and Veromessor pergandei enjoyed the yolk and after a day have broken up and stored most of what I gave them. Myrmecocystus mexicanus and Brachymymex patagonicus are also eating theirs, albeit at a slower rate. My Camponotus absqualator and Liometopum occidentale have hardly touched theirs, although they have few larvae at the moment and were fed recently. Overall my ants have shown a positive reaction to egg yolk and the best part about using it as food is that just 4 yolks is enough to feed all of my colonies for the foreseeable future. In fact, my biggest problem with this food so far is that the "small" pieces I fed to my colonies were still too big for even the most voracious of them and leftovers had to be removed to prevent mold. I'll be using egg yolks as a supplementary food source from now on.
 
Veromessor Pergandei larvae feeding on yolks:
PXL 20210716 173134532
 
While I'm at it, here's this colonies massive egg pile with the queen making an appearance to the left. I'm glad I have a Nucleus on the way because their Fallen Fortress is already filled to the bursting.
PXL 20210716 173213490
 
 
That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed my Novomessor cockerelli, the greyhounds of the ant world.  Next update will be all about my Veromessor pergandei on account of their coming move.

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • eea and m99 like this

TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#10 Online ANTdrew - Posted July 16 2021 - 4:10 PM

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Wow. Those ants are fierce! Love the gifs.
  • TestSubjectOne likes this

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

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#11 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted July 16 2021 - 4:34 PM

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Wow. Those ants are fierce! Love the gifs.

I learned the process of making and uploading them from your journal, so thank you. Seeing ants in motion makes them seem more alive than pictures can.


  • ANTdrew likes this

TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#12 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted August 11 2021 - 11:17 AM

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So I know I was planning to update on my Veromessor pergandei next because they were moving into a brand-new Nucleus, which they are now settling into quite nicely, but after an important event in the lives of my Crematogaster sp. colony I decided to put them off for a bit longer. The event? After a few months of semi-hibernation I got around to heating their Labyrinth nest again as well as feeding them heavily. As a result their larvae began to grow again, pupating, and now, within a few weeks of their reawakening, the first of their new workers have begun hatching.

 

A callow alongside some of her adult sisters:

PXL 20210811 175853493
 
I would estimate that the colony is at around 200 or 300 workers and has stayed there for months due in combination to their slowing of brood growth and their tendency towards synchronization. However this means that the new generation of workers that will be eclosing over the next few weeks is going to easily double that number.
 
Wide view of brood chambers (no lens):
PXL 20210811 175944933
 
Closeup up of a pupae pile. The darkened workers are near eclosing.
PXL 20210811 180043805
 
I'll be observing this mass emergence over the next few weeks and will update this journal with my thoughts once it's complete. I am especially interested in how the colony will cope with a doubling of their numbers and how long it will take the callows to harden into regular workers. I counted three of them so far, one of which was huddled up in the brood pile almost like a pupa and two that were on their feet. Most of my other ants have far less defined callows than this so I rarely notice them at all but these Crematogaster look like walking pupae. Besides these pupae they have a few dozen straggler larvae and 2 huge balls of eggs that seem likely to produce another wave of brood like this one did. My nest still has a lot of space but if they keep up this growth rate then I'll need to expand them within a few generations. I'll probably have to find a cheaper option than THA if they get that big.
 
 
 
And on another note I figured it would be a good time to introduce my Brachymyrmex patagonicus colony. I caught 20 or so queens about a year ago and ended up with one polygynous colony with several queens. They killed off several but by the time I moved them into their current home, a bifurcated mini hearth, they seemed to have stabalized at three. Since then they have done well and now are at about one or two thousand workers. However, I cannot be sure of this or even the health of their queens, because once they moved into their new home they almost immediately dirtied the glass and prevented me from observing them.
PXL 20210811 065737546
 
They are an invasive species and my least favorite colony, so they get less consistent care than my other ants but that hasn't stopped them from thriving and even producing male alates. The drones spend a lot of their time sitting around at the entrance of the nest looking for a chance to fly but I'm not giving them that opportunity. They've been around for a month or two now and with their natural flights dying down I wonder if they'll get eaten soon.
 
Here are a bunch of workers eating chicken:
PXL 20210811 065646477
 
Here is a gif of them on the chicken with their busy nest entrance in the foreground. They're a lot more interesting in macro video than in real life because you can see more than tiny, fast dots.
PXL 20210811 065818047.LS
 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 


  • ANTdrew and m99 like this

TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#13 Online ANTdrew - Posted August 11 2021 - 1:57 PM

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Love those Crematogasters!

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

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#14 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted August 11 2021 - 2:46 PM

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I love them too. I watch them all the time because they are my only colony that I don't keep in my incubator. Their labyrinth is amazing for viewing and they aren't disturbed about being carried across my room or outside for better light unlike my colonies. I learned recently that Crematogaster have a stinger but it is flattened to apply venom by wiping rather than stinging. They are extraordinary ants.


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TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#15 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted August 20 2021 - 10:28 PM

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After a solid week of worker eclosions decided to make an on their progress and more about them as a colony. Their boom is happening exactly as I expected, but that doesn't make it any less magnificent. Since the day after my last post they have been emerging, first only a few but by now the bulk of their pupae have become workers. I'd estimate that once the brood are finished hatching the colony will be at about 600 workers but my skill at estimating colony size leaves a lot to be desired so I'm open to others' assessments. By now a good chunk of these callows have become hardened, normal, workers. They have a lot more spread in terms of growth speed than I thought they would with the last few straggler larvae from last generation pupating while some of their new eggs have already grown into small larvae. Seeing as the queen lays eggs in batches, this must be the cause of some factor other than growth time.

 

Pupae and Nanitics:

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The Labyrinth that I keep these ants in allows for great viewing and because they are kept outside of my incubator on an aging heat pad they are my go to choice to carry over to my couch or desk for observation. Fortunately, their mellow temperament means that they don't care about disturbances and continue with normal life however much I move them. In this respect, they are my favorite colony.
PXL 20210821 015309454
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What are Crematogaster known for? Escaping, of course! While my colony has proven to be generally law-abiding, when it comes to the adhesive attaching their glass to the the nest they appear to be bent on its destruction. I don't have a sense of how quickly they are progressing but at some point I'll need to seal their nest up again. Any advice from fellow Crematomasters would be greatly appreciated. They always seem to have at least a dozen workers total chewing angrily at the stuff. In the pictures above, they keen-eyed of you will have noticed that the ants are digging tunnels in their outworld. I have no idea how extensive they are or how many ants they contain but any escape is foiled by the plastic bottom. As far as I'm concerned, they're just making more nest space and hopefully channeling their destructive impulses away from where it would do damage..
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Crematogaster are also known for being able to produce Carton, a building substance produced from whatever trash and sand they can find lying around, stuck together. They have made some minor attempts to partition the inside of their nest but their only truly successful project was narrowing their nest entrance which they did within their first month or two in this nest. This plug keeps out larger predators while also preserving nest heat and humidity.
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Another peculiar habit of theirs is collecting and storing dried food. This pile is made from dried bloodworm soup and live termites - in both cases, they sucked the food dry and stored it away. The larvae eat this food with no problem and it has yet to go bad.
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A general development was my purchase of a few hundred large Dubia roach nymphs and adults. I grossly underestimated how large they were and as a result I'm powerfeeding every colony due to the opportunity. Even now these Crematogasters are munching on a half-dubia next to me. Unfortunately I fed all my ants after I was done with my photo shoot but rest assured that my next update will include some pictures of my colonies eating these massive roaches. Who knows, it might even contain my elusive Veromessor pergandei? I killed a lot of brood during the move to their Nucleus and the current numbers still suffer as a result, so they're not exactly booming yet. Nevertheless I do want to showcase them in their new nest at some point. On the topic of Formicaria, I'll be trying my hand at making some to accommodate the growth of my colonies while not breaking my wallet. These will be a mix of tubs-and-tubes or Formisquarium copies because I lack the skill or desire to do anything more complex. Nine days ago the Brachymyrmex in my neighborhood flew and I couldn't resist catching 60 or 70 of them for the fun of it. After sending a few dozen on several unsuccessful missions to join my established colony and losing others to clumsiness I used a kitchen funnel to sort most of the rest into 5 founding groups ranging from 3-9 queens. These all now have massive amounts of eggs and larvae. The group that produces my original colony, if I remember correctly, was five and got reduced to three by the point where I moved them into their present container so as you can imagine these are all going to soon need to be introduced to either a big nest or a freezer. I don't care overly much about the Brachymyrmex but I do want to give my other fast-growing colonies the room they need to thrive. And that's all for today - I hope everyone enjoyed this view into a beautiful colony.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 


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TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#16 Online ANTdrew - Posted August 21 2021 - 2:28 AM

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Wonderful colony! What type of adhesive is that? You might want to put a big, ugly bead of silicone around the edge of the glass like you can see in my journal. Because Crematogaster.

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

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#17 Offline TestSubjectOne - Posted August 21 2021 - 7:54 AM

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The adhesive is Silicone as well. This is a years-old THA nest with a different design, and unfortunately that design was changed for a reason. That being said, these ants have been chewing for weeks or months with little progress, so they may well be unable to damage it significantly.


TestSubjectOne's Experiences in Antkeeping General Journal

 

Currently Keeping:

- Veromessor pergandei (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Novomessor cockerelli (1 queen, 200 workers)

- Myrmecocystus mexicanus (1 queen, 100 workers)

- Brachymyrmex patagonicus (3 queens?, 2,000 workers? & alates)

- Crematogaster sp. (1 queen, 600 workers)

- Liometopum occidentale (1 queen, 800 workers)

- Camponotus absqualator (1 queen, 130 workers)


#18 Online ANTdrew - Posted August 21 2021 - 9:06 AM

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I think you’re good in that case. I don’t think they can chew though silicone, but of course I could be wrong!

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

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.





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