SHH!!! Do you hear that?... It's the sound of hundreds of thousands of workers marching in unison. Hark! Could I be hearing the thumping and the dragging of a gaster? GASP. No... It can't be... Could it really be the sound of the majestic Lasius latipes?
That's way too long of an ant for its size but still somehow manages to walk despite its caboose dragging on the ground at all times. Haha, yes. It really is the majestic Lasius latipes... (Speaks to director out of camera shot) Huh? Oh! Right as I said! It really is the majestic Lasius latipes triumvirate! Marvelous! Splendid! What else could describe Lasius latipes? Grandiose! Spectacular? Camera shy... Well, uh... Nevermind the camera-shy part.
Yes, my friends. I have finally come back to Formiculture with a haul yesterday of 30 queens finally since 2 weeks of catching nothing. I saw yesterday at 6:50 PM for the first time in my life a mass nuptial flight in person. Starting with a flight of what I believe to be Brachymyrmex depillis (which I caught nothing of) and then the most incredible thing I've ever seen. It was at least 200 Lasius brevicornis queens from one colony at the surface starting to take off with their bright orange workers protecting the queens at all costs. At 6:50 they took off one by one and then multiple at a time filling the sky with black specks. It was really beautiful seeing this happen right before my eyes and being inside of the swarm cloud. From then I continued watching and take video recordings until 7:10 when I spotted right next to my left leg a beautiful orange queen that was extremely long. And it was the Latipes queen. From there I decided to run around my yard and scan around for queen and caught some brevicornis queens right in the act of mating. So, I grabbed those and ran out into my neighborhood. At 7:45 I saw one bright orange queen and then another right behind her! I was quick to put them in a ziploc bag and surely enough they were latipes. In the end at 9:00 PM I ended up with 1 Solenopsis molesta group queen, 2 Lasius neoniger queens, 24 Lasius brevicornis queens and finally... 3 lasius latipes queens. I was quick to get them hosts after my friends let me know they barely survive a day or two without hosts and even sometimes a few hours without hosts. So, I got 30 neoniger workers in total since almost all the colonies of neoniger were completely hidden in the ground at this point with no workers foraging so 30 workers was better than nothing. I split 2 Lasius latipes queens into their own group and 1 by herself with workers. I gave 20 workers to the two-queen group and 10 workers to the 1 queen group.
Fast forward to the next day, which is today, and I find that almost all hosts are dead. Likely from old age or disease. And worst yet was the two queen latipes group seemed dead with their feet in the air not moving. I was almost to breaking point as this was crushing. "I had looked for this one species for 3 years and I finally got queens just to have all but one die" I said to myself. I scooped the dead queens out of the tube and moved them around carefully in my head as I decided I should at least take in their beauty before preserving them. All of the sudden they both started to move around slowly. But very sluggishly. 1 queen barely moved. I quickly put them back in the tube and decided to look at my single queen colony and half of her workers were dead, but she was very lively. With my prioities now set I decided to first complete my planned trip to the Kalamazoo reptile expo and then when I get back immediately get neoniger workers. Welp, by the time I got back there wasn't much neoniger activity because of rain that fell in the morning, but some colonies (along with brevicornis colonies) were opening up their holes to let queens and males go and I could visually see them in their nests. So, I decided to wait until their flights would start since that's when the workers would be most active. Well, to my utter dismay it started raining an hour later. And by rain, I mean POURING RAIN. I believe around 1/2 an inch. At least the roof of my house got basically a pressure wash from mother nature but that's not what I needed. I needed hosts. Good, non-diseased, neoniger hosts and STAT. So, after the rain I went outside at 9PM to collect workers and luckily there were some along with a Lasius neoniger queen that escaped. So, I got a good 40 something hosts but that's all I could get today.
So fast forward to as I'm writing this the single queen latipes colony got most of the workers because she was the strongest and most likely to succeed at this point. I feel bad for the other two but at least I did everything I could. They seem to be a little stronger right now but not by much. Tomorrow I'll get 200 more workers to divide between them all. Thanks for staying around guys and I'll keep you all posted on this wild latipes adventure where I must Lat(appease) these mighty queens. And I'll stop with my horrible puns now. Bye!