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Help with mysterious C. pennsylvanicus colony deaths


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#1 Offline ambx327 - Posted July 5 2022 - 3:56 PM

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My 1-yr Camponotus pennsylvanicus colony had several worker deaths recently, and many others look lethargic and are curling up. The colony also seems to be cannibalizing the dead/dying--I see dismembered and missing parts scattered around the formicarium. 

 

I fed them a freshly killed cricket from a batch I bought at Petsmart about 3 weeks ago before I left for vacation. Plenty of moisture, sugar water feeder, etc. The colony looked healthy before (30+ workers, plenty of brood at various stages), and that's the only thing I can think of that's changed. I usually feed them crickets that have been previously frozen. 

 

Is it possible for Petsmart crickets to be contaminated somehow? Is there anything I can do at this point? 

 

Any help appreciated!


Edited by ambx327, July 5 2022 - 4:22 PM.


#2 Offline madbiologist - Posted July 5 2022 - 4:07 PM

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Does the colony look healthy other than this? ie: how many workers? Lots of brood of all stages?


 

 

 

 

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#3 Offline ambx327 - Posted July 5 2022 - 4:20 PM

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Does the colony look healthy other than this? ie: how many workers? Lots of brood of all stages?

 

Yes, there is plenty of brood of all stages. It's the same brood that was there prior to the cricket feeding and illness/deaths. Total number of workers looks around 25-30 (I misspoke earlier and there were closer to 30+ workers instead of 20 prior to the deaths).

 

There are still a few sick/dying workers. I'd estimate total deaths to be around 7-8 workers. 

 

Related, the other colony (aphaenogaster sp.) I fed some of the same cricket to has lost all its workers (~8). Though I'd also recently moved that colony to a new test tube due to some bad mold issues, so it could be unrelated. 


Edited by ambx327, July 5 2022 - 4:22 PM.


#4 Offline madbiologist - Posted July 5 2022 - 4:43 PM

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I'd say you may not have anything to worry about, those deaths could be natural nanitic deaths (exacerbated by the protein, which worker ants have trouble processing. Unfortunately this is unavoidable until they reach majors). Just in case though, or if you've already had a nanitic dieoff, you may want to refrain from using those crickets.


 

 

 

 

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#5 Offline futurebird - Posted July 5 2022 - 5:19 PM

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Are you certain they can get water from the water feeder?

Ants tend to not eat things that are bad for them. 

Could it be too much heat? Or too much damp?


Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

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#6 Offline ambx327 - Posted July 5 2022 - 6:29 PM

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I'd say you may not have anything to worry about, those deaths could be natural nanitic deaths (exacerbated by the protein, which worker ants have trouble processing. Unfortunately this is unavoidable until they reach majors). Just in case though, or if you've already had a nanitic dieoff, you may want to refrain from using those crickets.

 

I haven't had a nanitic die-off yet, so that's reassuring. Didn't know that they could die from too much protein. 



#7 Offline ambx327 - Posted July 5 2022 - 6:30 PM

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Are you certain they can get water from the water feeder?

Ants tend to not eat things that are bad for them. 

Could it be too much heat? Or too much damp?

 

Yes water shouldn't be a problem - I use Tarheel Ant's mini-hearth, and the water reservoir was never empty. My home temp is quite stable in the low to mid-70s



#8 Offline futurebird - Posted July 5 2022 - 7:27 PM

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It's probably just the nanitics then. Especially if most of the dead ants are very small. 

The only other recommendation I'd make is to have a VARIETY of proteins, crickets are one of the best if you could only pick one, but ants are scavengers and eat a little of everything. Adding fruit flies or frozen house spiders can help. 


  • Jonathan5608 likes this

Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#9 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 6 2022 - 2:31 AM

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Are you certain they can get water from the water feeder?

Ants tend to not eat things that are bad for them.

Could it be too much heat? Or too much damp?

Yes water shouldn't be a problem - I use Tarheel Ant's mini-hearth, and the water reservoir was never empty. My home temp is quite stable in the low to mid-70s
Just to clarify, ants can’t drink from the water reservoir unless you overfill it. They need a nesmate or a water feeder in the outworld. Also, low 70s is too cold for ants to really thrive. Turn down your AC or get a heat cable.

Edited by ANTdrew, July 6 2022 - 2:33 AM.

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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.

#10 Offline futurebird - Posted July 6 2022 - 3:29 AM

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A test tube with water is a water feeding method that never fails. The only down side is they may hang out in the test tube. 
Good water feeders are more tricky than they might seem. I had a feeder that for some reason my ants couldn't drink out of. In another case, they kept flooding the outworld by putting sand in the feeder. 

The "mega" feeders from https://byformica.comwork for all sizes of ants, have a design that makes flooding nearly impossible, and have a screen to prevent ants from drowning. So I use that or a water test tube for all my ants. 


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Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#11 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 6 2022 - 4:19 AM

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Ah, man… They’re sold out of mega feeders.
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#12 Offline madbiologist - Posted July 6 2022 - 11:55 AM

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The nests from tarheel should also come with a nestmate that they can drink from directly as well.


Edited by madbiologist, July 6 2022 - 11:55 AM.

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#13 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted July 13 2022 - 8:43 AM

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Camponotus are known for this sometimes. I had a colony with 8+ nanitics that lost nanitics one after another, until the queen finally died. This may have to do with camponotus and bird poop, so do research about that. There are many articles in FC.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

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#14 Offline aznphenom - Posted July 13 2022 - 8:49 AM

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Camponotus are known for this sometimes. I had a colony with 8+ nanitics that lost nanitics one after another, until the queen finally died. This may have to do with camponotus and bird poop, so do research about that. There are many articles in FC.

I have never thought about that. I do have two camponotus colonies. one is chromaidoes and other is pennsylvanicus. Both caught around the same time last year. The pennsylvanicus grew fast. Having majors and all. Easily 3-4x the amount of workers compared to the chroma even though I got the chroma first. But there's a distinct difference. The pennsylvanicus colony has as many dead workers as they have a live. While my chroma is well into year 2, only has 2-3 dead workers total. Maybe I cleaned some out last year and don't remember. 

 

I totally forgot about the poop thing and I remembered wanting to use roach bc someone said it contains the same thing in poop. Maybe it was crickets but unfortunately, the pennsylvanicus queen died. 

 

EDIT: You got me reading this article now. I'm having a hard time finding the final conclusion. Is it just essential amino acid that is the difference between a thriving colony or not? Where did i get nitrogen from? This doesnt even poop. that's probably another paper. Is nitrogen considered amino acid?

https://bmcbiol.biom...-7007-5-48#Sec2


Edited by aznphenom, July 13 2022 - 9:59 AM.

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Keeps: Atta TexanaOdontomachus haematodus, Crematogaster Sp., Prenolepis imparis, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Camponotus chromaiodes, Tetra sp

 

Wants (Please reach out if you have them for sale if you’re in the US): Acromyrmex Sp., Atta Mexicana, Cephalotes Sp., Myrmecocystus Sp (Prefer Mexicanus), Odontomachus Sp. (Prefer Desertorum), Pachycondyla Sp., Pheidole Sp (Prefer Rhea. The bigger the better. Not the tiny bicarinata), Pogonomyrmex Sp., Pseudomyrmex Sp. (Prefer the cute yellow ones)

 


#15 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted July 13 2022 - 10:44 AM

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Camponotus are known for this sometimes. I had a colony with 8+ nanitics that lost nanitics one after another, until the queen finally died. This may have to do with camponotus and bird poop, so do research about that. There are many articles in FC.

I have never thought about that. I do have two camponotus colonies. one is chromaidoes and other is pennsylvanicus. Both caught around the same time last year. The pennsylvanicus grew fast. Having majors and all. Easily 3-4x the amount of workers compared to the chroma even though I got the chroma first. But there's a distinct difference. The pennsylvanicus colony has as many dead workers as they have a live. While my chroma is well into year 2, only has 2-3 dead workers total. Maybe I cleaned some out last year and don't remember.

I totally forgot about the poop thing and I remembered wanting to use roach bc someone said it contains the same thing in poop. Maybe it was crickets but unfortunately, the pennsylvanicus queen died.

EDIT: You got me reading this article now. I'm having a hard time finding the final conclusion. Is it just essential amino acid that is the difference between a thriving colony or not? Where did i get nitrogen from? This doesnt even poop. that's probably another paper. Is nitrogen considered amino acid?
https://bmcbiol.biom...-7007-5-48#Sec2
Sadly, I am not the expert on this subject. I have not done any in depth research on that subject because I have not caught a camponotus queen since the death of that last colony. I don't know for sure if anyone truly understands why camponotus eat that, only that they do it and when they don't, they often die. If you search thr forum, I remember an article I once commented on that explained it better than me and offered solutions.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

My Journals:

Formica Species Journal

Myrmica Species Journal

My South Dakotan Shop Here

Attention Ant-Keepers in South Dakota! Join the SoDak(Society Of Dakotan Ant Keepers)


#16 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted July 13 2022 - 10:48 AM

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Here is what serafine said in that post
"I was the first to actually test this and it resulted in:

- quite a pile of dead ants

- many batches of new eggs



Not sure what it is with the dying ants (it often happens when I give them urea but not always), my guess is that it triggers some "pseudo-epigenetic" mechanisms that cause the colony to discard older workers.



For the first tests I just used pee in byformica feeders (it stays okay for around 2 days but I'd recommend replacing it after a day, it goes bad MUCH faster if served in a dish - generally the less contact to air it has the better) but then switched over to pure urea from the pharmacy (because I really don't want my ants to get into contact with all the crap I eat and drink). We've had people trying diluted diesel exhaust fuel (which is basically just urea) and it worked as well.

That said I have always fed my Camponotus a very broad diet (which seems to be very important for this genus - they generally don't seem to to well on a basic diet like just honey and mealworms) and they never really did bad by any standards. Also some feeder insects (roaches in particular) can store urea/urid acid in their bodies if fed a protein-heavy diet which probably helps the ants, too."

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

My Journals:

Formica Species Journal

Myrmica Species Journal

My South Dakotan Shop Here

Attention Ant-Keepers in South Dakota! Join the SoDak(Society Of Dakotan Ant Keepers)


#17 Offline Ants_Dakota - Posted July 13 2022 - 10:50 AM

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Broad diet is probably the easiest thing you could do. AntsDakota(my south dakotan ant keeping friend, not to be confused with me) has bèn experimenting with this to help his colonies get diverse protein. And all of his ants are doing phenomenal.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. -Proverbs 6: 6-8

My Journals:

Formica Species Journal

Myrmica Species Journal

My South Dakotan Shop Here

Attention Ant-Keepers in South Dakota! Join the SoDak(Society Of Dakotan Ant Keepers)





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