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Aphaenogaster workers dying in THA mini hearth


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#1 Offline Roll Me-Wan Kenobi - Posted August 4 2022 - 8:00 AM

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I would greatly appreciate any input on this problem.

Last summer I found a small nest of Aphaenogaster sp. (possibly rudis) and captured two queens who I founded in the same tube. They were quite messy and usually left small cut up mealworm parts in the tubes instead of moving them to the portal, leading to excessive mold on the cotton. Being attached to an AC test tube portal it was pretty easy to manage this, I would offer them fresh tubes and eventually they would move out of the dirty tube into a new one. I think they went through 2 tubes before I decided to move them into a THA bifurcated mini hearth when they reached 60+ workers. 

 

At first they were doing well in the THA mini hearth. Then about a month ago they brought a piece of mealworm down into the hearth, and it was either too big for them to remove up the vertical tube, or they just refused to do so. A bit after that I accidentally put a little too much water in the tower and they had a minor flood. This got the piece of mealworm wet and caused it to mold profusely. They are also stacking the remains of fruit flies in the upper bifurcated part instead of taking them into the out world.

 

For the past few weeks workers have started dying at an alarming rate. Around 5 or more workers per week have started dying since the mold outbreak, almost one per day. I am wondering the best course of action. Should I attempt to clean the mini hearth by cooling them down in the fridge and then removing the glass to take out the moldy mealworm and fruit flies? Should I move them back into tubes with an AC test tube portal until I can get another housing solution? I have heard this species is pretty messy in general, but I am starting to think that they might be better off in something that has an outworld on the side rather than above to avoid vertical tubing.

 

Thank you in advance for any advice on this situation.


Edited by Roll Me-Wan Kenobi, August 4 2022 - 8:02 AM.

Currently keeping:

 

Species                    Colony Size

Aphaenogaster sp.   100+ 

C. castaneus            6  

C. pennsylvanicus    50+

F. pallidefulva           20

F. fusca                    50+

L. niger                    100+

T. immigrans            8


#2 Online TacticalHandleGaming - Posted August 4 2022 - 8:08 AM

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Get them out of that nest, and clean it of any mold. I normally use a mild dish soap and warm water to do this. Mold is a HUGE killer of colonies. Overfeeding any species, especially ones known for being lazy about trash, can cause this issue. 


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Currently kept species

L. neoniger, P. occidentalis, C. modoc, C. novaeboracensis, C. vicinus, T. immigrans, A. occidentalis, P. imparis.

 

Previously kept species

T. rugatulus, B. depilis.

 

Looking for

Myrmecocystus kennedyi, Myrmecocystus pyramicus, Myrmecocystus semirufus, Myrmecocystus testaceus

Pheidole californica, Pheidole creightoni, Pheidole inquilina, Solenopsis molesta, Crematogaster coarctata, Crematogaster mutans

My youtube channel. 


#3 Offline Roll Me-Wan Kenobi - Posted August 5 2022 - 7:10 AM

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Thanks for the advice, I kind of figured I would need to rehouse them. I attached an AC portal with some tubes to the moldy THA mini hearth, hopefully they decide to move out soon.


Currently keeping:

 

Species                    Colony Size

Aphaenogaster sp.   100+ 

C. castaneus            6  

C. pennsylvanicus    50+

F. pallidefulva           20

F. fusca                    50+

L. niger                    100+

T. immigrans            8


#4 Offline ZTYguy - Posted August 5 2022 - 7:24 AM

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Use vinegar instead of soap. It’s harmless to the ants and you don’t have to worry about the soap killing your ants off.
  • Roll Me-Wan Kenobi likes this

Ant Keeping Since June 2018
Currently Keeping:
A. versicolor, C. vicinus, C. us-ca02, C. clarithorax, C. yogi, C. sansabeanus, C. semitestaceus, C. laevigatus, M. mimicus, M. mexicanus, M. navajo, M. placodops 01, M. placodops 02, M. mendax, P. californicus, P. subniditus, P. rugosus, V. andrei, V. pergandei, V. stoddardi,  N. cockerelli, P. hyatti, P. desertorum, P. cerebrosior, P. californica, D. bicolor, C. sp cf6, C. sp na, S. “molesta”

 

GO CHECK OUT ANTSEMPORIUM HERE: https://antsemporium.com/


#5 Offline FinWins - Posted August 5 2022 - 7:30 AM

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I think you should move them back into a the AC test tube portal, it is the easiest and least stressful on the ants. However if they refuse to budge then you should physical move them into their new nest.
  • TacticalHandleGaming likes this
I keep:
Camponotus modoc (colony)
Camponotus sansabeanus (queen)
Pogonomyrmex rugosus (colony)
Pogonomyrmex californicus 2x(2 queen poly)
Pogonomyrmex magnacanthus 2x(queen)
My Pogonomyrmex rugosus journal: https://www.formicul...us/#entry215040
I’m looking for: (Stigmatomma sp.), (Pseudomyrmex sp.), (Odontomachus sp.), (Myrmecocystus mexicanus or mendex), (Formica sp.), (Polyergus sp.)

#6 Offline Roll Me-Wan Kenobi - Posted August 5 2022 - 7:47 AM

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I think you should move them back into a the AC test tube portal, it is the easiest and least stressful on the ants. However if they refuse to budge then you should physical move them into their new nest.

 

Thank you for the tip, they have been reluctant to move away from moldy tubes in the past so I think I may have to resort to this. Can you suggest any methods or strategies to physically move the ants and brood without harming them?


Edited by Roll Me-Wan Kenobi, August 5 2022 - 7:47 AM.

Currently keeping:

 

Species                    Colony Size

Aphaenogaster sp.   100+ 

C. castaneus            6  

C. pennsylvanicus    50+

F. pallidefulva           20

F. fusca                    50+

L. niger                    100+

T. immigrans            8


#7 Offline FinWins - Posted August 5 2022 - 7:55 AM

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What I do is take a Q tip and try to get a ant to step on it. Then once the ant steps on it I carry it to the new nest and put it in, I use the same process with the queen. For the brood I just take a Q tip and try to get the brood to stick to it then I wipe it off in their new nest.
Or it would be a lot easier to use a insect aspirator.
I keep:
Camponotus modoc (colony)
Camponotus sansabeanus (queen)
Pogonomyrmex rugosus (colony)
Pogonomyrmex californicus 2x(2 queen poly)
Pogonomyrmex magnacanthus 2x(queen)
My Pogonomyrmex rugosus journal: https://www.formicul...us/#entry215040
I’m looking for: (Stigmatomma sp.), (Pseudomyrmex sp.), (Odontomachus sp.), (Myrmecocystus mexicanus or mendex), (Formica sp.), (Polyergus sp.)

#8 Offline FloridaAnts - Posted August 5 2022 - 8:17 AM

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I would greatly appreciate any input on this problem.
Last summer I found a small nest of Aphaenogaster sp. (possibly rudis) and captured two queens who I founded in the same tube. They were quite messy and usually left small cut up mealworm parts in the tubes instead of moving them to the portal, leading to excessive mold on the cotton. Being attached to an AC test tube portal it was pretty easy to manage this, I would offer them fresh tubes and eventually they would move out of the dirty tube into a new one. I think they went through 2 tubes before I decided to move them into a THA bifurcated mini hearth when they reached 60+ workers.

At first they were doing well in the THA mini hearth. Then about a month ago they brought a piece of mealworm down into the hearth, and it was either too big for them to remove up the vertical tube, or they just refused to do so. A bit after that I accidentally put a little too much water in the tower and they had a minor flood. This got the piece of mealworm wet and caused it to mold profusely. They are also stacking the remains of fruit flies in the upper bifurcated part instead of taking them into the out world.

For the past few weeks workers have started dying at an alarming rate. Around 5 or more workers per week have started dying since the mold outbreak, almost one per day. I am wondering the best course of action. Should I attempt to clean the mini hearth by cooling them down in the fridge and then removing the glass to take out the moldy mealworm and fruit flies? Should I move them back into tubes with an AC test tube portal until I can get another housing solution? I have heard this species is pretty messy in general, but I am starting to think that they might be better off in something that has an outworld on the side rather than above to avoid vertical tubing.

Thank you in advance for any advice on this situation.

If you ever do use the nest again, use the nest mate for ventilation.

Also, you can take off the glass and remove the mold if it hasn’t attached itself to the grout. I have to regularly take the glass off of my Camponotus socius to clean their trash up. Some people may say “Move your socius back then!” But in the tube you have to prepare a new tube just as often…

If you manually move them, paint brushes that are unused work great for picking up ants. The ants hold on to the bristles to attack, and then they get knocked back in with their colony. Move the queens using a cotton swab like FinWins said.

Edited by FloridaAnts, August 5 2022 - 8:19 AM.

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Check out my Camponotus socius journal!
https://www.formicul...socius-journal/
Check out my Florida Carpenter Ant journal!(Camponotus floridanus, and Camponotus tortoganus)
https://www.formicul...naltwo-species/
Check out my Odontomachus ruginodis(Trap-Jaw ants) journal!
https://www.formicul...urnal/?p=215735
Check out my Trachymyrmex septrionalis(Fungus farmers) journal!
https://www.formicul...onalis-journal/

#9 Offline FinWins - Posted August 5 2022 - 9:40 AM

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I agree an unused paint brush would be better. Also some thing I forgot to add is to make sure that when your move your queen to have something soft under her in case she falls. I’ve had a larger Camponotus queen fall off, lucky I was smart enough to move her over a cotton ball in a cup when I noticed she was slipping.
I keep:
Camponotus modoc (colony)
Camponotus sansabeanus (queen)
Pogonomyrmex rugosus (colony)
Pogonomyrmex californicus 2x(2 queen poly)
Pogonomyrmex magnacanthus 2x(queen)
My Pogonomyrmex rugosus journal: https://www.formicul...us/#entry215040
I’m looking for: (Stigmatomma sp.), (Pseudomyrmex sp.), (Odontomachus sp.), (Myrmecocystus mexicanus or mendex), (Formica sp.), (Polyergus sp.)

#10 Offline ANTdrew - Posted August 5 2022 - 10:30 AM

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I think you should move them back into a the AC test tube portal, it is the easiest and least stressful on the ants. However if they refuse to budge then you should physical move them into their new nest.


Thank you for the tip, they have been reluctant to move away from moldy tubes in the past so I think I may have to resort to this. Can you suggest any methods or strategies to physically move the ants and brood without harming them?
Aphaenogaster have the habit of grabbing up all their brood at the first sign of danger. Take advantage of this behavior and just shake them out into a new container.
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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.

#11 Offline Roll Me-Wan Kenobi - Posted August 8 2022 - 3:39 AM

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Thank all you for the advice on how to rehouse this colony. I figured I would give them a few days and see if they move, but over the weekend they did not. I will physically move them back into a test tube portal today or tomorrow and update with how it went. 


  • TacticalHandleGaming and FloridaAnts like this

Currently keeping:

 

Species                    Colony Size

Aphaenogaster sp.   100+ 

C. castaneus            6  

C. pennsylvanicus    50+

F. pallidefulva           20

F. fusca                    50+

L. niger                    100+

T. immigrans            8


#12 Offline AntsDakota - Posted August 8 2022 - 9:36 AM

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I would greatly appreciate any input on this problem.

Last summer I found a small nest of Aphaenogaster sp. (possibly rudis) and captured two queens who I founded in the same tube. They were quite messy and usually left small cut up mealworm parts in the tubes instead of moving them to the portal, leading to excessive mold on the cotton. Being attached to an AC test tube portal it was pretty easy to manage this, I would offer them fresh tubes and eventually they would move out of the dirty tube into a new one. I think they went through 2 tubes before I decided to move them into a THA bifurcated mini hearth when they reached 60+ workers. 

 

I agree with ANTdrew on this one. Also are both queens still alive? Aphaenogaster rudis are thought to be monogynous.


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"God made..... all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. (including ants) And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25 NIV version


#13 Offline Roll Me-Wan Kenobi - Posted August 9 2022 - 5:53 AM

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I would greatly appreciate any input on this problem.

Last summer I found a small nest of Aphaenogaster sp. (possibly rudis) and captured two queens who I founded in the same tube. They were quite messy and usually left small cut up mealworm parts in the tubes instead of moving them to the portal, leading to excessive mold on the cotton. Being attached to an AC test tube portal it was pretty easy to manage this, I would offer them fresh tubes and eventually they would move out of the dirty tube into a new one. I think they went through 2 tubes before I decided to move them into a THA bifurcated mini hearth when they reached 60+ workers. 

 

I agree with ANTdrew on this one. Also are both queens still alive? Aphaenogaster rudis are thought to be monogynous.

 

Surprisingly both queens are still alive after more than a year. When I posted in the ID thread last year the forum consensus was definitely Aphaenogaster and some suggested it looked like rudis. It surprised me that they have been working together since I read on Ant wiki that they are monogynous. My phone is pretty old, I plan on getting a higher quality camera in the near future to take better close ups of my ants. Maybe when I have better pictures I can repost in the ID thread and we can see if it really is rudis.


  • AntsDakota likes this

Currently keeping:

 

Species                    Colony Size

Aphaenogaster sp.   100+ 

C. castaneus            6  

C. pennsylvanicus    50+

F. pallidefulva           20

F. fusca                    50+

L. niger                    100+

T. immigrans            8


#14 Offline TypeD - Posted August 9 2022 - 8:22 AM

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I had a very similar experience with an Aphaenogaster colony in a small formicarium; they just weren't very proactive about managing waste and it would accumulate in ways that were difficult for me to extract. I got to thinking maybe it had something to do with their (wild) habit of nesting in decaying material not translating well in captivity, or perhaps the enclosed environment of the setup creating excess humidity => encouraging mold. Either way, it was killing a persistent trickle of workers over time.

 

I moved them to a tubs and tube setup with dry sand as the substrate, and the deaths immediately stopped. They also manage their trash normally now. 


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