So, I caught this queen last summer on a family trip to the lake. Attached is a photo of her the day of capture.
That same day I decided to search for hosts on the island I was camping on because Formica colonies are difficult to come by around my home. Unfortunately, I suck at ants and was only able to collect 4 hosts. I took her home and hoped for the best. Attached is a photo of her with her first hosts.
Over time, all host pupae became workers and there were no signs of eggs. I searched all over the place for Formica colonies but there was a heat wave at the time so finding colonies near the surface was even more challenging. Eventually, I gave up and placed the queen with her remaining two host workers in the fridge hoping that I could obtain hosts for her the next year.
This queen ended up facing yet another challenge. During hibernation her test tube flooded (I still don’t really know why) killing her remaining hosts. She was able to survive because I caught it early enough. I made her a new set up and left her in the fridge for a long time. This queen was placed in hibernation earlier then the rest of my ants and taken out much later.
This year I had a new determination to find my queen hosts. I searched and searched until I finally flipped a rock containing a Formica colony. The colony did not have any brood yet and weren’t a very large colony. so I grabbed about 10 workers and hoped I could get the queen to accept the new hosts. The introduction did not go flawlessly though. Though it did not take long for the new hosts to accept the queen, some acid must have been sprayed because many of the workers died. The queen was left with only 5 workers this time. I fed them a lot and attempted to disturb them minimally and crossed my fingers that somehow she would find success this time.
Miraculously, after about a week the queen decided to finally lay a batch of eggs! I know that I made a lot of mistakes in this process and I am trying to keep my mistakes to the minimum in the future. I will document the progress of this queen, and hopefully she will not have any more struggles to overcome in the near future. Attached a picture of a host worker holding the eggs