While I only have one Pogonomyrmex Californicus queen at this time, I plan on collecting a lot more of these in the future. Hopefully the concolorous versions though since they were my second favorite ant as a kid.
So I caught this bicolor Californicus on July 14, 2015 and she was the second queen I've caught since I've gotten back into ants.
I saw an ant digging a hole and I really didn't think much of it the first time I walked by her on my way to the dog park.
However, on my way back, I decided to take a closer look and realized that this wasn't a worker doing nest maintenance. She had wing muscles!
I was extremely excited and as soon as she came out hauling a ball of dirt, I blocked her nest entrance (didn't have a shovel on me) and managed to get her into a test tube I kept in my car.
Man...she did not like this test tube at all.
She was cleaning her gaster which I took as a good sign...
But she literally tore at the cotton for a few days straight.
After a few days of tugging and ripping the cotton plug to shreds without a single egg to show for it, I decided to add dirt to her test tube.
I had read that some people really struggled with Californicus in test tubes but some others had success with placing dirt/sand inside.
Went outside and collected some recently excavated dirt from a Californicus colony in the garden. I wasn't sure if this was a good idea (scents and all) but I was hoping it might calm her down a bit.
The dirt did calm her down and she no longer tugged at the cotton plug keeping her in. The problem now was that she just sat next to the water plug the entire time doing nothing. By this point, she was also looking smaller and skinnier than when I had originally gotten her. I'm sure it was my imagination but knowing that they are a semi-claustral species and that I hadn't fed her, I began to worry. Went out to Walmart to buy poppy seeds from the spices aisle after having looked at Crystals' favored foods by species thread. Some people say adults/queens can not digest solid food and that only larvae can. Others say they can eat the seeds... It'd be great if someone could clarify this (though I'm leaning towards can not digest solid food) but the queen did move them around a bit.
At this point, the last vestiges of Hurriance Dolores (I think) began to pelt California and the prospect of new queens put this queen from my mind.
On July 20th, I managed to catch a bunch of P. Rugosus and M. Mexicanus with a couple of other random queens. Was a bit saddened I didn't see any Californicus but I managed to unearth a termite colony that I collected for ant food.
The queen actually ignored the termite and was more afraid of it. The termite ended up attacking her which made her panic even more. She ultimately decided she had to fight and she killed the termite easily and began to eat it.
Another four days later on July 24th, she still hadn't done anything so I decided to move her to another set up outside of the test tube.
Having collected so many other queens, I honestly ran out of space to put my queens. So, I pulled out some card storage boxes in order to make her a make-shift formicarium where she could forage.
I piled one end with as much dirt as I could in order for her to have a place to dig a bit and start her chamber. The other end only had a light sprinkle of packed sand dirt just to put her at ease. Having seen how my Rugosus acted with their inception chambers, I poked a hole for her in one of the corners to give her a place to start digging her chamber.
Overhead view - the foil had a drop of byFormica's Sunburst. She drank some but chose to bury the rest. I also put a termite dealate that died in there for her as well.
Sideview - You can see her in the hole, already digging on the very most right side of the card box.
Close up of her digging - It was honestly amazing to see her go for it right away and start digging after having watched her do nothing for the past ten days.
Twelve hours later, July 25th, I checked up on her after I woke up.
Seems like she finished her chamber and laid a couple of eggs.
They're a bit difficult to see in the pic but it's the little white spec to the right of her gaster.
She immediately went to protect them when the lights came on.
Decided to tidy up a little bit and offer her some food. Will go with this layout for now.
And finally, a shot from below the nest of her chambers and 5-6 eggs.
I'm extremely glad she's come this far.
I'll definitely keep this updated and let you all know how this goes.
Thanks for stopping by and reading.
Edited by stuhrike, May 18 2021 - 7:25 PM.