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Repeated Mass Deaths in Colonies: Similar Experiences or Solutions?

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#1 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 22 2022 - 3:49 PM

M_Ants

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For a long time now I've had mass deaths of colonies that I can't seem to find the cause of. I'm hoping maybe one of you out their has had similar experiences and can help me. My colonies are pretty well cared for but their are a lot of factors I want to cover so that I can rule the obvious ones that will get suggested.
- Food: I feed my ants fruit flies from my fruit fly culture and perky hummingbird nectar. I use the powdered stuff and mix it up in small batches. 
-Cotton: I use normal cotton balls that should be safe and don't explain the deaths.
-Tubes: I use glass test tubes that should be safe and don't explain the deaths.
-Containers: I use the typical containers from daiso and the container store that other ant keepers use.
-Air: I do not believe my neighbors use any pesticides. I have termites that should be affected if they did. 
-Water: I use reverse osmosis water that if toxic or anything would also kill my termites.
-Heat: heat all my colonies with a heating cable and use a heating gradient. 
 
The issue:
My colonies start out well in the founding stages for the most part. They do not show signs of poisoning pesticides etc. At some point during the next year, the colonies start to do poorly. Some show problems before this and some have lasted much longer. The first problem that arises is that the queen stops laying. The brood may or may not develop but once the queen stops laying there's rarely any more workers. At this point the colony is just stagnant for a month or so and then workers start dying. They often run around the outworld or just act weird in general. They do not just go and die in the trash pile. Eventually the queen is the only one left and eventually dies. 
 
Species: 
My crematogaster and Veromessor pergandei seem unaffected
-V. andrei, C. modoc, C.  clari, C. ca02, C. cola, C. fragilis, M. testaceus, and M. romanei
 
C. fragilis: I had a journal on these and they did really good for a long time. June 26 2021 my fraggles were doing good and getting medians then by August 26th they started dying off and never recovered. The queen didn't die till this year iirc.
 
If anyone can point me to journals with similar problems, comment with personal experiences, or just see something I'm not please lmk.
 

Edited by M_Ants, April 22 2022 - 4:11 PM.

Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#2 Offline UtahAnts - Posted April 22 2022 - 4:57 PM

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Perhaps a variety in the sugar diet would help. I use hummingbird nectar as well, but I also supplement the sugar supply every couple weeks with organic fruits and sugar/honey water. Varying the protien source might help as well.


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#3 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 22 2022 - 5:38 PM

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Perhaps a variety in the sugar diet would help. I use hummingbird nectar as well, but I also supplement the sugar supply every couple weeks with organic fruits and sugar/honey water. Varying the protien source might help as well.

 

It would probably be beneficial but I don't think a lack of variety would cause the issues I'm having. 


  • OiledOlives likes this

Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#4 Offline ZTYguy - Posted April 22 2022 - 10:47 PM

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What is hydration like, I have found humidity to be a key factor in leading to some of my colonies deaths or die offs. 


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Currently: Considering moving to Australia
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#5 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 23 2022 - 3:17 AM

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A variety of proteins is very important. It’s less important for the sugars, but you could try mixing it up.
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#6 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 9:17 AM

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What is hydration like, I have found humidity to be a key factor in leading to some of my colonies deaths or die offs. 

Well using the romanei as an example, I kept them in a test tube then moved them to a formiquarium that I kept moist. 


A variety of proteins is very important. It’s less important for the sugars, but you could try mixing it up.

They stop caring about food once the issue starts. Doesn't matter what I feed them. 


Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#7 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 2:18 PM

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Based on the behavior of the romanei, I'm fairly certain they're being poisoned somehow.


Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#8 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 23 2022 - 4:01 PM

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To be honest, a lot of Formicines simply do not do well in captivity, Camponotus especially so. I mostly just focus on Myrmicines because they kick butt in captivity. Stick to Myrmicines, I say.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#9 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 7:04 PM

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To be honest, a lot of Formicines simply do not do well in captivity, Camponotus especially so. I mostly just focus on Myrmicines because they kick butt in captivity. Stick to Myrmicines, I say.

This certainly seems true in my case. I'm mostly trying to solve this problem because I have some C. yogi that I really love and I would be devastated if this happened to them.


Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#10 Offline TacticalHandleGaming - Posted April 23 2022 - 7:40 PM

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I've heard of perky hummingbird nectar going bad/fermenting and killing colonies. I would try and different sugar source like byformica sunburst, fruits, etc.


Currently kept species

L. neoniger, P. occidentalis, C. modoc, C. novaeboracensis, C. vicinus, T. immigrans, A. occidentalis, S. molesta, P. imparis, M. kennedyi, M semirufus, F. pacifica, P. californica, M. ergatogyna.

 

Previously kept species

T. rugatulus, B. depilis.

 

Looking for

Myrmecocystus pyramicus, Myrmecocystus testaceus

Pheidole creightoni, Pheidole inquilina, Crematogaster coarctata, Crematogaster mutans

My youtube channel.  My ant Etsy store - Millennium Ants


#11 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 7:41 PM

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I've heard of perky hummingbird nectar going bad/fermenting and killing colonies. I would try and different sugar source like byformica sunburst, fruits, etc.

I use the powered stuff so I don't make large batches


Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#12 Offline UrbanOrganisms - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:06 PM

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I've heard of perky hummingbird nectar going bad/fermenting and killing colonies. I would try and different sugar source like byformica sunburst, fruits, etc.

Quite the opposite in my experience. I have had my bottle open for over a year unrefrigerated and it has never let me down. Does the powdered nectar you use have preservatives? If not I would suspect spoiled nectar to be the cause of your issues via bacterial/fungal infection



#13 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:07 PM

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I've heard of perky hummingbird nectar going bad/fermenting and killing colonies. I would try and different sugar source like byformica sunburst, fruits, etc.

Quite the opposite in my experience. I have had my bottle open for over a year unrefrigerated and it has never let me down. Does the powdered nectar you use have preservatives? If not I would suspect spoiled nectar to be the cause of your issues via bacterial/fungal infection

It has preservatives

Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#14 Offline UrbanOrganisms - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:19 PM

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I see, so that's likely not it. Regarding protein, fruit flies is their only source of it? How often and many are you feeding? I find it hard to keep up with any species' protein demands past the founding stage using only fruit flies given how small they are. Regardless though, I don't think that explains your ants' behavior. Protein starved colonies just don't develop brood, but they don't just die. Are all your colonies essentially in a tub and tubes setup?



#15 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:21 PM

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I see, so that's likely not it. Regarding protein, fruit flies is their only source of it? How often and many are you feeding? I find it hard to keep up with any species' protein demands past the founding stage using only fruit flies given how small they are. Regardless though, I don't think that explains your ants' behavior. Protein starved colonies just don't develop brood, but they don't just die. Are all your colonies essentially in a tub and tubes setup?


I have a lot of queens right now. This problem killed a lot of stuff last year that was in tubs and tubes setups though.

Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#16 Offline UrbanOrganisms - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:26 PM

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I think I may have experienced what you're talking about. Last year I had a CA02 colony in a tubs and tube setup. They were doing well at first but eventually the workers just started acting strange and not really eating either, and all eventually died including the queen. I've never had this happen in any other sort of nest, so my only suspicion is that after a while the water reservoir may grow bacteria, and if the ants drink that water they get poisoned. It would explain why it happens randomly, as it would be a matter of when the bacteria begins growing in the tube. 



#17 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:30 PM

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I think I may have experienced what you're talking about. Last year I had a CA02 colony in a tubs and tube setup. They were doing well at first but eventually the workers just started acting strange and not really eating either, and all eventually died including the queen. I've never had this happen in any other sort of nest, so my only suspicion is that after a while the water reservoir may grow bacteria, and if the ants drink that water they get poisoned. It would explain why it happens randomly, as it would be a matter of when the bacteria begins growing in the tube.


Yeah it killed all my ca02. My romanei were doing fine this year and I moved them into a formisquarium with an outworld. The problem began a little while after that.

Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#18 Offline UrbanOrganisms - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:32 PM

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All your parameters seem good, and in general weird behavior is typically associated with some sort of poisoning. I would bet on the water thing. I am not a fan of tubs and tubes setup, not saying they don't work but just not my style



#19 Offline M_Ants - Posted April 23 2022 - 8:35 PM

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All your parameters seem good, and in general weird behavior is typically associated with some sort of poisoning. I would bet on the water thing. I am not a fan of tubs and tubes setup, not saying they don't work but just not my style


My water never looks dirty but I guess maybe that could be it. However, this wouldn't explain why my large Camponotus colony died. They were in a THA fortress.

Veromessor pergandei

Veromessor andrei

Crematogaster sp. 

Pogonomyrmex cf cali and rugosus

Various Pheidole

C. yogi 

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


#20 Offline Guest_SolenopsisKeeper_* - Posted April 24 2022 - 6:22 AM

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What if the ants got some sort of sickness? I haven’t read all posts here, but maybe the ants were trying to get far away from the colony to die, I have heard ants di this when sick.





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