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The day after the last update I noticed that the first major pupa was starting to darken, ever so slightly.
The day after that I decided to go ahead and move them into their next nest: a Mini Labyrinth. It was maybe a bit pre-emptive, as I was originally planning on waiting until the end of the month to move them. But at the end of the day I'm impatient, and they're my ants. So whatever.
They've settled in very nicely, and as of today, their first biological major eclosed!
AnthonyP163, B_rad0806, ANTdrew and 8 others like this
Posted September 29 2021 - 10:29 AM
The colony is now up to 5(?) majors total, although still none of the biological ones are quite as large as the boosted one. Two of the biological majors are fairly close, probably only 1-1.5mm smaller than the boosted one, but still just a bit behind.
The reason for the ? is that the super dinky major from before has eclosed.... and it's honestly hilarious
I've taken a liking to calling it a "superminor", since it's basically just a minor with a slightly larger head. I know it's technically a major but just.... look at it!
At any rate, the colony is growing like crazy. My original idea to wait until the end of this month to move them might not have even worked considering the amount of this nest that's already being used up.
mmcguffi, AnthonyP163, TennesseeAnts and 5 others like this
This colony has continued to absolutely blow me away. Since last update the number of majors has at least tripled, with the last count being 15, and more eclosing every day. Still no supermajors
I'm expecting this colony to be ready for the XL labyrinth by the end of the month... which is terrifying. I am going to pick up a 55 gallon fish tank on Sunday that will be their future, and hopefully permanent, outworld. I'm extremely nervous about making it, as I'm going to attempt to decorate it in a 'desert cliff' style, since this species tends to nest on the edges of canyons and on cliffs in the wild. I hope to get it as natural-looking as possible while still being totally dry so the ants' nest is still in the artificial setups.
AnthonyP163, ANTdrew, Somethinghmm and 5 others like this
Since the last update this colony has probably at least doubled in size, and they are producing a ton of full sized (9mm) majors. Still no supermajors yet, although these full sized majors are seriously impressive regardless.
I believe I mentioned the fact that I got a 55 gallon tank to serve as these guy's future outworld, and I'm positive you'll be blown away by it... once I reveal it to you. Not this update, since I'd like to wait until it's completely finished before showcasing it. I'll either make a separate topic going over how I made it or just do an in-depth post here, whichever you guys think is better. Let me know.
AnthonyP163, SoySauce, TennesseeAnts and 8 others like this
Back in early October I picked up a 55 gallon fish tank from offerup.
Next, I used styrofoam blocks to carve out a rough cliff-like structure. Pheidole rhea often nest on rocky cliffs, so this was designed to recreate their natural environment.
I also used some old tree roots I found to add some dimension. This placement was just temporary for the time being, as you'll see. I removed them so as to keep them clean for the next step, in which I covered the entire scape in 2 layers of Ultracal.
With this layer it was imperative to cover everything, as any exposed styrofoam could be an avenue for the ants to dig into and end up inside the scape, which I definitely didn't want.
After that was done, it was time for the detail layer. For this I mixed up yet another batch of ultracal, but this time with copious amounts of sand included. This gave the ultracal a darker color, a rougher texture, and made it much thicker, which made it much easier to work with. At this point the roots were also re-added, and some large stones were embedded in the scape. I also dusted everything with yet another layer of sand, and distributed a layer of gravel across the top of the cliff, as well as in a few parts of the scape.
After that was done, I introduced two pincushion cacti to the holes in the scape.
All that was left was to drill the hole to hook up the nest, and of course in doing so I failed to consider that the tank was tempered glass, which caused it to shatter. Thankfully it didn't fall apart on me, so while it sucked, it really wasn't the end of the world.
The last step was to do some acrylic work, where I used a circular saw to cut some pieces to create a lip around the opening of the tank, for applying an upside down barrier. I also took a large sheet to fit the broken side of the tank and siliconed it down, as an extra reinforcement for the broken glass. Just in case.
And with that, everything was done! All I did afterwards was move the colony into their next nest, an XL labyrinth, and attached that to the outworld.
On a side note, the nest is awesome.
And finally, here's a super awesome video I made to show off the ants using the new outworld, and how I made it.
AnthonyP163, B_rad0806, Somethinghmm and 8 others like this
Posted November 24 2021 - 11:10 AM
I think I might have a supermajor. If I do, it's not a particularly impressive one, but we'll get into that.
First off, here's a status update. I didn't exactly pick the best time to get a full-nest pic as around 1/3rd of the colony is foraging, but oh well, you can still see all the ridiculous amount of brood they have. I expect this nest to be full by the end of the year.
The queen is also still quite easy to see, which is nice.
One interesting behavior from the majors is that while they tend to be much more hesitant to forage, they're still eager to help. Huge gatherings of them wait at the nest entrance for prey to be dragged inside so they can immediately get to work tearing it up.
And lastly, here's the big gal.
A few things are certain, she is the largest major in the colony so far and definitely has a distinct head shape from the other majors. The reason why I am still hesitant to call her a "real" supermajor is that she's overall still smaller than the wild supermajors I see, and her thorax is much less robust. For example, here's a wild supermajor:
I suppose either way I'll know soon enough, and this means that I'm likely close to getting the "real" supermajors I know from the wild colonies, which is very exciting.
TennesseeAnts, B_rad0806, ANTdrew and 6 others like this