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Kowal's Lasius fuliginosus

lasius fuliginosus lasius fuliginosus kartonówka kartonówki

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#1 Offline Kowal - Posted May 8 2022 - 8:23 AM

Kowal

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Another journal which is a repost of my journal on a small Polish forum. 

First season
I've caught a queen of Lasius fuliginosus genus on, most likely, 2020.06.11. The next day I dug out some Lasius niger pupae and few workers, separated them and placed queen with pupae:
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Few hours later I introduced the workers too. I took too few workers, I should've taken 1 worker per 5-10 pupae.
2020.06.26

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2020.07.23

The queen started laying eggs, her abdomen became swollen a bit:

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2020.08.26

All the L. niger pupae are already enclosed or rejected. All the L. fuliginosus eggs have hatched, no new eggs appear, colony has reached stagnation.

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Colony was placed in the fridge on 2020.09.17 and taken out on 2020.11.21 with short periods in coldest place in my room before and after fridge hibernation.

Second season

Overwintering larvae became hungry in late December/January. 
2021.02.01

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2021.02.07

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2021.02.16

First pupae became ready to enclose. This is a critical stage of Lasius fuliginosus development - Lasius niger are known to be a poor host when it comes to opening pupae. If they fail to open any, the colony is doomed. They HAVE to open at least one so that it can free other L. fuliginosus workers. 
When a L. fuliginosus pupa is overdue, the worker inside tries to cut out way through the shell. It reminds me of a walrus, as it looks like a blob with two mandibles sticking out. The video shows that happening.

 

2021.02.21
Some of the pupae were laying around half open, with worker fully hardened inside but unable to get out completely. Fortunately few days later a Lasius fuliginosus worker was walking free of its shell.

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2021.04.25
Soon the colony had lots of Lasius fuliginosus workers. The colony seemingly stopped growing - but in fact the L. fuliginosus population was growing inside, they have just been replacing Lasius niger workers. I haven't seen them killing each other, but somehow the L. niger population quickly collapsed within the colony.

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2021.06.02
I have caught another L. fuliginosus queen. I prepared a test tube with very small opening - so only workers could pass through it - in attempt of replicating BartTPs method of introducing new queens. The goal is to allow foragers to make contact with new queen without letting her reach the main nest, where nest guardians would execute her. She would be let out only when she would be covered with workers like the the old queen. 
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2021.06.06

The new queen didn't get much attention, but I've caught one moment when she was being fed.

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2021.06.14

Still no workers being constantly tending to the new queen. She had enough of it and broke out of the test tube and immidiately had entered the main tube, where she was met with mixed reactions - most of the workers ignored her, some fed her when asked for food and few were chasing her, attacking her legs. When I was leaving to work no worker was attacking her anymore and she seemed to be gaining attention. Unfortunately I found her dead several hours later - I suspect she came too close to the entrance and attracted the guards. 

 

2021.06.21
There was a new nest attached for few weeks. Some foragers were visiting it, but it was generally ignored. On this day I have noticed they moved almost all of the colony to the new nest. Only the queen with a group of workers were still in the tube.

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2021.06.30

They have segregated the brood by size in the new nest. Also one room became a dedicated pupation station.

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2021.08.30

The nest is getting crowded, but ants have decided to use two segments as garbage sites. Instead of cleaning them they prefer to occupy empty test tubes in the outworld.

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2021.11.29

I put the nest into my fridge. All the workers moved into the nest. Later counting had shown that there was over 1000 workers at that time. No Lasius niger workers were present. While cleaning the outworld I've picked two workers to show that L. fuliginosus have workers of slightly varying size - especially the head size can be different.

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Third season

In this year I've placed the nest inside a new outworld and attached a new nest made out of cork and partially filled with rotting wood (oak, birch and pine). I wanted them to build their famous fungus-cardboard nest, they never built anything even though they had some wood/cork available before. This didn't work too, it most likely died early.

They have been taken out of the fridge on 2022.01.27. Three days later they have been placed in new outworld and quickly rushed to investigate new areas, especially new nest - but they didn't inhabit it immidiately, sometimes there was just few workers, sometimes hundreds with a bit of brood.

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2022.02.01 

First food of this season.

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2022.02.17 

Fist pupae of this season.

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2022.03.03

:o

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2022.04.13

Almost all of overwintering larvae had already pupated and hatched. The queen was busy laying eggs, her abdomen is so physogastric I am surprised she hasn't popped like a pimple yet. Due to barely any larvae present the colony is a bit lazy.

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Edited by Kowal, May 8 2022 - 8:38 AM.

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#2 Offline Kowal - Posted May 8 2022 - 8:45 AM

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2022.05.05

Somehow the queen seems to be even fatter.

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2022.05.08

Finally some fresh photos - photos of both of their nests:

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#3 Online OiledOlives - Posted May 8 2022 - 9:37 AM

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Beautiful colony! This species is in my top 10 world species for sure.


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#4 Offline Kowal - Posted June 12 2022 - 9:59 AM

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Colony has outgrown both nests. Well, technically, there is still lots of room in the cork one, but they didn't dig in it. They have started using tubing as nesting space, then they have built some (fungiless) structures under the acryllic nest, which was an obvious sign that they have no intention of expanding the cork nest. I ordered Wrocław from Anthillshop.pl (20x20x2 cm nesting space minus the watering chambers) and decorated with red clay:

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Workers have scouted it immidiately, but it didn't get much attention for few days. On 2022.06.05 I have spotted first group of workers just hanging around in it rather than scouting, two days later they have moved most of the cork nest in here:

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Current (2022.06.12) state of the nests:

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There's also a lot of workers living directly in the outworld, they have apparently nested in some existing cavities in cork bark, I can also see a mass of workers underneath it. They've used some of the red clay to expand structures under acryllic nest. 

Meanwhile the nuptial flights of Lasius fuliginosus have started. I've managed to catch/buy 11 queens (10 of which were caught within 1 or 2 km from original queens capture point, the other one was still in the same city). I've placed them in test tubes with plastic plugs, in which I cut holes small enough for workers to pass, but not the queen. Said tubes were placed within outworld. They have been met with mixed reactions - some workers were ignoring them, some were feeding them, some were biting them or dragging them around. Two of them have managed to squeeze through their holes and reached one of the nests - where they were quickly executed by ants guarding the entrances. I've tried introducing two of them to the new nest from backside, to trick the guarding ants, but it didn't work too. Others died out in the tubes, maybe from hunger, maybe from being choked to death - I don't know. For now there is just one last queen alive and she's still getting mixed reactions, but the trophallaxis is more frequent and longer, like she's actually getting fed and not only given a taste.

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Original queen is still alive.



#5 Offline Kowal - Posted August 6 2022 - 5:03 AM

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I haven't wrote anything in a while, a lot has happened in the meantime. 
First of all, the last fresh queen has died. I haven't found all the bodies, as some ran away from their tubes, but there was no sight of a second queen anywhere in the nest. But their death wasn't in vain - it seems workers managed to retrieve conidia from inrabuccal pockets of the queens, as few days after presenting first new queens their activity around the big piece of bark in the outworld increased. Soon I have noticed that in one place they've started doing... something. It was a construction made out of clay pellets, pieces of cotton and general woody debris. It wasn't grown through with fungus, but later I found they have been building the carton structures underneath the bark piece!

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Unfortunately I had to destroy it all, as the outworld became more and more infested with booklice. It was partially caused by me being not too consistent with cleaning and partially by ants, which had been sticking dead ants in areas I couldn't reach nor see. At some point, when booklice became escaping outside of the outworld, dozens a day, threatening other colonies, my books and furniture I have decided to become more radical. At first I removed most of decorations from the outworld and vacuum cleaned hundreds of dead ants and pieces of feeder insects. Later I have decided to completely wipe this outworld. I have prepared a new one and started disturbing ants living in/under the bark piece so they would move to the proper nest. In the process I could see well their construction. As I've raised the bark I noticed that that queen is living in that part of the setup, so I just left the bark lifted with some tweezers:

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I have also dismantled the small, acryllic nest. Before unscrewing the screws I took some photos with underlight - I love how this photo turned out, white acryllic diffused light so nicely:

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On 2022.07.07 I have spotted the queen inside the nest, which was the signal I could start scrapping the old outworld:

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The new outworld is more simplistic, this time I have decided to not give ants any places they could potentially hide trash from me. Unfortunately clay has not dried yet and they immidiately began digging underneath the stone, which I intended to be their feeding place:

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After disconnecting old outworld and connecting the new one I started taking out workers from the old one... one by one. It was a tedious work, in few hours I moved few hundreds or a thousand of them, but last 200ish workers were hiding in pieces of bark too much, so I left them in there. I have taken pieces of fungus structures, cleaned them of any booklice and placed them in the new outworld and then baked the old outworld to kill any booklice left.

Unfortunately the rescued structures, even though they've seen lots of attention at first, were abandoned and I again have no fungus in this colony.

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I have continued adding new queens (with no results), just a few of them as their main flights have already ended. 

2022.07.19 Some eggs:

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On 2022.08.04 I have cleaned the outworld a bit and found some dead queen bodies. At first I wasn't bothered, as I was adding new queens, but... I have counted one more dead body than I added queens. I began searching for the queen in the nest, but I couldn't spot her. Usually she's either visible or is covered by lots of workers, so any big pile of them is suspicious. I couldn't see her anywhere... no worker balls in sight, no queen. I began panicking and decided to lift the rock. More than a thousand workers have poured out, but again - no queen in sight. I was feeling down and started to accept it's the end, but in late evening of the next day (2022.08.05) I found one ball of workers in the nest, which after being disturbed (by heating the area with a finger) revealed the queen! She's really thin, most likely done with laying eggs for this season, but she's alive!

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I still have no idea where the extra body came from. Did I count incorrectly?

Here's current nest overview:

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Edited by Kowal, August 6 2022 - 5:14 AM.






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