I wasn't sure I was going to make this journal, but here I am. This will likely be a pretty sparse journal, but I would like to have it for my own keepsake. I learned a ton about Atta texana this past year and I eventually plan to write a separate, informative post with what I have learned about Atta texana, but I'm not sure when I will get around to making that post.
May 2, 2021
This is when I caught my alates and dealates:
A portion of the Atta I collected
Set up in groups of ~3. I ended up releasing all of the alates that did not shed their wings (on a mature Atta colony in my neighborhood), only to learn mere hours later that many of those were likely fertile and I needed to rip their wings off to induce fungal pellet dropping and egg laying.
Close up with a tiny bit of fungus on the right; I "fungus boosted" all the colonies
This group ("Colony A", 3 queens) I boosted with a much larger portion of fungus that still had ~50+ workers, including majors. They accepted the queens after ~10 min. You can see a small Attaphila cockroach on the abdomen of one of the queens. These are thought to be symbiotic or at least commensal.
I had many deaths in all, >50% mortality. Also, many queen were not fertile. This particular queen had a very interesting fungal infection that has a bit of a Santa-y vibe
This is a group of infertile queens, but the picture shows the characteristic "fungal disc" that all my queens made. It's constructed from trophic eggs that the fungus colonizes and ants keep their eggs/brood on top. How the fungus distinguishes between the 2 egg types (since they are both in contact) is beyond me, but I find it fascinating.
This is "Colony A" again (heavily boosted with fungus/workers), and you can see they have started actively foraging for leaves and building up their fungus for the first time. They don't forage/build their gardens unless there are mature larvae/pupae.
"Colony A" again -- this was after I had come back from a weeklong trip and I noticed they did not forage for anything while I was gone. I collected some fresh knockout rose petals, sun dried them, and placed them in their outworld. They immediately took to this as you can see. I thought this was interesting since the same thing was already available to them. Somehow those rose petals must have been non-optimal
All the dust has now settled. I lost many queens to pathogens, and the vast majority of survivors were infertile. I have 2 colonies -- one with 3 queens and one with 2 queens.
Colony A -- 3 queens (heavily boosted)
Colony B -- 2 queens (boosted with a tiny portion of fungus)
Edited by mmcguffi, March 18 2022 - 8:48 AM.