Jump to content

  • Chat
  •  
  •  

Welcome to Formiculture.com!

This is a website for anyone interested in Myrmecology and all aspects of finding, keeping, and studying ants. The site and forum are free to use. Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation points to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!

Photo

Moving large terrarium colony into proper formicarium?

terrarium move tetramorium log escapees moving ants

  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Offline QuietWind01 - Posted October 18 2022 - 8:40 PM

QuietWind01

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • LocationIllinois, USA
Hey everyone. New here. So, a few months ago I rescued a tetramorium immigrans colony from a rotting log. I was going to use it as burn wood, noticed the colony, and decided to rescue them. As far as health goes... they're doing AMAZING! There's roughly a few thousand workers give or take, but obviously it's hard to really tell, considering they're living in a solid log and I at most only see 1-2k workers (when my sugar water test tube dries out, I leave it for them after I replace it for a few days because I noticed HUNDREDS of them fill the old tube and drink what is left.)

Anyway, currently their log is inside of a 35 gallon fish tank/terrarium... the design of the tank is terrible for using any kind of barrier method, and also makes it difficult to watch them, care for them, monitor them, etc. I constantly get escapees and if I don't leave my lights on in my ant room, they will escape by the hundreds (if I keep the lights on it seems to minimize the explorers to a handful at a time).

What would be a good way to coax them not only out of the log, but into a proper formicarium? I find it's going to be extremely difficult to convince them to move. Not only that, but my original thought was to take a long piece of tubing, stick it near the spot I feed them and place their sugar water test tube, and hope they travel up it and decide to move into the end point... problem is, since they already like escaping, I'm worried this would only make it easier for them to just escape, even with a barrier placed up and down the outside of the tubing.

Any ideas, tips, or tricks? I've moved plenty of colonies, but nothing on this scale, and I can't seem to find any good information about a project like this. Thanks!

#2 Offline ZTYguy - Posted October 18 2022 - 8:50 PM

ZTYguy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,674 posts
  • LocationNorthridge, California
What I did with my Novomessor colony was basically lay “traps” in the form of test tubes. Sense tetra in my opinion like humidity if you lay some test tubes out you can coax them in and them take those individuals and dump them into a formicarium. Also what formicarium are you planning on using.

Ant Keeping Since June 2018
Currently Keeping:
A. versicolor, C. us-ca02, C. yogi, C. Vicinus, C. laevigatus, C. clarithorax, C. maritimus, C. ocreatus, M. mexicanus, M. placodops 01, V. andrei, V. pergandei, N. cockerelli, P. barbata, P. montanus

Hoping to Catch This season:

M. romanei, M. placodops 02, P. imberbiculus, Polyergus sp., F. moki, A. megomatta, Cyphomyrmex sp.,Temnothorax sp.


#3 Offline QuietWind01 - Posted October 18 2022 - 9:06 PM

QuietWind01

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • LocationIllinois, USA

What I did with my Novomessor colony was basically lay “traps” in the form of test tubes. Sense tetra in my opinion like humidity if you lay some test tubes out you can coax them in and them take those individuals and dump them into a formicarium. Also what formicarium are you planning on using.

I was planning on using 1-2 TarHeelAnts labyrinths; speaking of them gathering in large numbers in the old test tubes I leave in there, there was so many just in one that they could easily fill about a quarter of a single THA Labyrinth (I have one for my pogonomyrmex occidentalis colony so I am familiar with the size), and who knows how many there actually are... anyway, I usually DO leave test tubes in the tank, usually 1-2 at a time (plus 1 sugar water test tube, and 1 regular water test tube), since it's big enough. I only ever see them gather in the old tubes with only a few hundred (at most) workers, and never the queen (haven't seen her since I verified her existence when I rescued them which was a trick and a half on its own, without losing too many workers, brood or killing them). 

 

I could definitely try this, I'm not sure how I'd convince them to fill up the test tube traps without first drinking them dry, but also this leads me to another concern: wouldn't this method be pretty slow, and even if it worked, I'd just be dumping workers with no queen--a process which could take weeks or months possibly, plus would they move brood, and at what stage in the process do you think they'd try to move the queen and even brood into any of the test tubes for me to move? Should I maybe lay like, 10-15 tubes around and on top of the nest and hope they feel that a couple of them are good for a new "nest"? Honestly, if I could get the queen, some workers, and a bulk of brood into one of the tubes doing this... I could easily keep catching workers in tubes and adding them to the new nest but I'm worried if I don't get the queen/brood early on in the process I'd end up losing a ton of workers for not having the rest of their colony, brood, queen, etc.

P.S. I literally have hundreds of test tubes because I buy them in bulk so my ability to lay endless "test tube traps" is virtually limitless, lol. (I queen hunt regularly and every time I go out I find around 30-40 so I'm always keeping a stockpile of tubes). ALSO, lastly, forgive me for asking so many questions and picking your brain, again I've never done a move this large before and want to learn as much as I can before I attempt it, I like to be thorough. The help is VERY appreciated though, so thank you.



#4 Offline rptraut - Posted October 18 2022 - 9:37 PM

rptraut

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 335 posts
  • LocationOntario, Canada

I had a similar problem with a Camponotus colony that I rescued from the burn pile.  

I waited until they were very cold and slow moving.  I got a large boot tray and filled it with water.  An inch or so is all you need to prevent escapes during the transfer.  Then I got a large plastic tray that I could put the piece of wood and the formicarium into and set the whole thing in the water.  I did all of this in my heated workshop.  I used a large chisel and hammer to split open the wood where they were living and dumped as many of them in the formicarium as I could, trying to get the queen in there if possible.  Because they were cold they were pretty slow moving at first but they soon warmed up and began to move into their new home.  They ran around the top of the tray at first, but they wouldn't cross the water.  I found they moved into the new formicarium much more quickly if I left the open log with a bright light on it and covered the formicarium with a black cloth.  By morning most of the ants had moved into their new digs and I was able to take the formicarium out and put a lid on it.  I used a pooter to move the few remaining ants. 

 

You can probably put the entire aquarium in something like a boot tray with water, put the formicarium in the aquarium and then split open the log etc.  If you can get the queen in there the rest will follow.  With other colonies, (mainly Lasius) I have found that the workers will quickly find the formicarium, transport the brood, and lead the queen into the new home.  

 

With Tetramorium I have found the most effective barrier to be Mineral Oil.  I have a super old bottle of it, it used to be sold in pharmacies as a laxative, I don't know if it still is.  If you can get some, you will find it to be effective as a barrier for Lasius and Myrmica as well.


My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#5 Offline QuietWind01 - Posted October 18 2022 - 10:14 PM

QuietWind01

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • LocationIllinois, USA

I had a similar problem with a Camponotus colony that I rescued from the burn pile.  

I waited until they were very cold and slow moving.  I got a large boot tray and filled it with water.  An inch or so is all you need to prevent escapes during the transfer.  Then I got a large plastic tray that I could put the piece of wood and the formicarium into and set the whole thing in the water.  I did all of this in my heated workshop.  I used a large chisel and hammer to split open the wood where they were living and dumped as many of them in the formicarium as I could, trying to get the queen in there if possible.  Because they were cold they were pretty slow moving at first but they soon warmed up and began to move into their new home.  They ran around the top of the tray at first, but they wouldn't cross the water.  I found they moved into the new formicarium much more quickly if I left the open log with a bright light on it and covered the formicarium with a black cloth.  By morning most of the ants had moved into their new digs and I was able to take the formicarium out and put a lid on it.  I used a pooter to move the few remaining ants. 

 

You can probably put the entire aquarium in something like a boot tray with water, put the formicarium in the aquarium and then split open the log etc.  If you can get the queen in there the rest will follow.  With other colonies, (mainly Lasius) I have found that the workers will quickly find the formicarium, transport the brood, and lead the queen into the new home.  

 

With Tetramorium I have found the most effective barrier to be Mineral Oil.  I have a super old bottle of it, it used to be sold in pharmacies as a laxative, I don't know if it still is.  If you can get some, you will find it to be effective as a barrier for Lasius and Myrmica as well.

 

I had a similar problem with a Camponotus colony that I rescued from the burn pile.  

I waited until they were very cold and slow moving.  I got a large boot tray and filled it with water.  An inch or so is all you need to prevent escapes during the transfer.  Then I got a large plastic tray that I could put the piece of wood and the formicarium into and set the whole thing in the water.  I did all of this in my heated workshop.  I used a large chisel and hammer to split open the wood where they were living and dumped as many of them in the formicarium as I could, trying to get the queen in there if possible.  Because they were cold they were pretty slow moving at first but they soon warmed up and began to move into their new home.  They ran around the top of the tray at first, but they wouldn't cross the water.  I found they moved into the new formicarium much more quickly if I left the open log with a bright light on it and covered the formicarium with a black cloth.  By morning most of the ants had moved into their new digs and I was able to take the formicarium out and put a lid on it.  I used a pooter to move the few remaining ants. 

 

You can probably put the entire aquarium in something like a boot tray with water, put the formicarium in the aquarium and then split open the log etc.  If you can get the queen in there the rest will follow.  With other colonies, (mainly Lasius) I have found that the workers will quickly find the formicarium, transport the brood, and lead the queen into the new home.  

 

With Tetramorium I have found the most effective barrier to be Mineral Oil.  I have a super old bottle of it, it used to be sold in pharmacies as a laxative, I don't know if it still is.  If you can get some, you will find it to be effective as a barrier for Lasius and Myrmica as well.

 

Thanks a lot. This sounds like a good idea, but I'm unsure how practical it would be in my case... the tank is tiny (width and length wise) but tall, about 1.75ft tall. The log itself takes up most of the inside of the tank, and there really isn't much room for a formicarium, much less to split the log open... any type of force needed to split the log would just shatter the glass, it's cheap and fragile. Not to mention I'm not sure what I'd use to split it with in the first place without killing a bunch of workers or even the queen... gosh this is probably going to be more difficult than I figured lol



#6 Offline rptraut - Posted October 19 2022 - 1:02 AM

rptraut

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 335 posts
  • LocationOntario, Canada

Forget the aquarium and use a large enough plastic tub like I did.  Get everything together that you think you might need because this will be a major undertaking.  Find something that you can put water in that you can sit the plastic tub in and have it surrounded by water (like the boot tray or a wash tub or bathtub).  The idea here is to limit the ants to the plastic tub and formicarium so they have nowhere else to go but into the formicarium.  I used a large chisel and small sledgehammer to make a big enough crack in the top of the log so I could split it by prying it apart.  I found that the Camponotus were only in one large chamber, so it was easy to shake most of them out.  You may have to split yours two or three times to get most of them out.  I was pretty sure I had the queen when a huge clump of ants all fell out together.  She was probably in the middle.  Remember, they were cold and huddled together for hibernation.  You may lose a few workers but the queen will probably be surrounded by workers for protection.  You might find it easier to split the wood over a piece of plastic sheet so you can "pour" any ants that fall out into the formicarium.  I have found it much easier to move ants in a situation like this when they are very cold and slow.  Moving ants, especially ones that are firmly ensconced in a piece of wood, can be very difficult and it may take them some time.  The reason I suggest the water moat is because I have had ants run in a panic across a barrier that they would otherwise never cross in normal circumstances.  It is very difficult for them to escape across water.  They need time to warm up and decide that your formicarium is the only place where they can go and then get all their belongings and move there.  I also felt much more relaxed about going to bed and leaving them knowing they wouldn't be gone in the morning.  So did my wife!


My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#7 Offline QuietWind01 - Posted October 19 2022 - 2:22 PM

QuietWind01

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • LocationIllinois, USA

Forget the aquarium and use a large enough plastic tub like I did.  Get everything together that you think you might need because this will be a major undertaking.  Find something that you can put water in that you can sit the plastic tub in and have it surrounded by water (like the boot tray or a wash tub or bathtub).  The idea here is to limit the ants to the plastic tub and formicarium so they have nowhere else to go but into the formicarium.  I used a large chisel and small sledgehammer to make a big enough crack in the top of the log so I could split it by prying it apart.  I found that the Camponotus were only in one large chamber, so it was easy to shake most of them out.  You may have to split yours two or three times to get most of them out.  I was pretty sure I had the queen when a huge clump of ants all fell out together.  She was probably in the middle.  Remember, they were cold and huddled together for hibernation.  You may lose a few workers but the queen will probably be surrounded by workers for protection.  You might find it easier to split the wood over a piece of plastic sheet so you can "pour" any ants that fall out into the formicarium.  I have found it much easier to move ants in a situation like this when they are very cold and slow.  Moving ants, especially ones that are firmly ensconced in a piece of wood, can be very difficult and it may take them some time.  The reason I suggest the water moat is because I have had ants run in a panic across a barrier that they would otherwise never cross in normal circumstances.  It is very difficult for them to escape across water.  They need time to warm up and decide that your formicarium is the only place where they can go and then get all their belongings and move there.  I also felt much more relaxed about going to bed and leaving them knowing they wouldn't be gone in the morning.  So did my wife!

 

Do you think this would work for a piece of wood with chambers that are in lines? It's kinda hard to explain but their nesting chambers are actually in long tunnels from one side to the other internally, with access points every so often on the outside; I may have to try this and I do have a rubbermaid bin I can use, so I'll have to get the formicarium first. I'd probably also have to use another bin with a barrier or something to set the pieces of the split log in after I get most of them out, it will be basically impossible to get them all out manually



#8 Offline ANTdrew - Posted October 19 2022 - 2:33 PM

ANTdrew

    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 9,334 posts
  • LocationAlexandria, VA
It honestly may not be worth the trouble for an extremely common species like Tetramorium. You could escape proof the tank by gluing a rim of plastic around the tank’s rim and coating the bottom with Fluon. I use the flexible plastic that comes with cheap poster frames for this. You can easily cut out the middle to make a seamless rim.
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#9 Offline QuietWind01 - Posted October 19 2022 - 9:55 PM

QuietWind01

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • LocationIllinois, USA

It honestly may not be worth the trouble for an extremely common species like Tetramorium. You could escape proof the tank by gluing a rim of plastic around the tank’s rim and coating the bottom with Fluon. I use the flexible plastic that comes with cheap poster frames for this. You can easily cut out the middle to make a seamless rim.


Problem is, I can't properly care for them and give them everything they need. I need to get them out so I can properly care for them. The wood is rotting further in my house which isn't good... it also is very difficult to clean their setup due to the nature of it. Not to mention they're currently my biggest colony... who wouldn't want to watch a colony with so many members? Lol.

#10 Offline rptraut - Posted October 22 2022 - 1:44 AM

rptraut

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 335 posts
  • LocationOntario, Canada
Tetramorium aren't that common in my area, so I understand your enthusiasm about a large colony. You can see pictures of my two large colonies in a post titled something like "Large Tetramorium Colonies".

The tunnels you are describing probably follow the soft wood of the growth rings of the tree. This should make it easier to split the wood apart. Also, if the wood is rotting it will be that much easier to break up. Try your best to take the wood apart in as many pieces as you can and make it an undesirable place for them to live. You won't be able to get every ant out of the tunnels. You'll have to let those ones move on their own. Getting as many of them in the formicarium, especially the queen, will make the rest of them want to move to join the colony. It might take them overnight to move or it might take a couple of days. Be patient.

Follow the steps I outlined above, take your time, get someone to help you if necessary and try your best. This method works, I've used it to transfer Camponotus and Lasius ants. If you have them in the Rubbermaid container surrounded by water, they can't go anywhere so you'll have lots of time. You will be able to take each piece of wood, empty it of ants (or confirm that it is empty), and then take it out. Work your way through each piece until you're done.

Although Tetramorium sometimes get a bad rap for being small and boring, I find my large colonies very entertaining as they swarm food and bury it or take it apart and transport it back to the nest. They aren't fussy and will eat almost anything. I think they could be quite happy without eating insects at all. Mine like chicken, turkey, raw pork, liver, dog food, salmon, egg yolk, virtually anything. The beauty of these foods is - no garbage to clean up. One of my colonies doesn't seem to care about light in their nest, so I have no cover on them at all and I watch their nest activity at any time and don't disturb them. I find these ants quite enjoyable. They are worth the effort.

Good luck with this project and let us know how you make out.
My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#11 Offline ANTdrew - Posted October 22 2022 - 2:10 AM

ANTdrew

    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 9,334 posts
  • LocationAlexandria, VA
Well said, RPT. I agree that Tetramorium are interesting and fun to keep. My point about them being common is that it would be way easier to find a queen and start a new colony. The thought of trying to remove thousands of tiny , stinging ants from a log sends my blood pressure up. If you are attached to the colony, it may be worth it, though.
"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 rptraut - Posted October 22 2022 - 9:43 PM

rptraut

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 335 posts
  • LocationOntario, Canada
Ah yes.....the biting.....the stinging.......some "stimulating" elements that add to the challenge of this project.
Antdrew is right about Tetramorium colonies. I was pleased to see how quickly a founding colony increased in numbers in their second season after what seemed like a pretty slow start. In their third season they grew to hundreds of workers. Great ants for a beginner.
My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#13 Offline QuietWind01 - Posted October 26 2022 - 7:29 PM

QuietWind01

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • LocationIllinois, USA

Hey everyone.

 

So, an update. 

 

1. I managed to get the queen and most of the other workers. I think (no offense) a couple of you may have been confused as to the setup, because it's not just as easy as letting them move on their own. I physically have to move them. So even once I get the queen and move her, there is no physical possible way for the rest to follow or move themselves... lol I had to physically do this. It took me a long week and about 4 hours a day but yes, I am attached to this colony so I took the time and care to do it. This may seem a bit unethical but what I did is basically use the "test tube traps" and then shook the crap out of their log/nest, which made thousands of them pour out. I thought I had the majority of the colony already in the new nest/outworld.. HAHA NOPE! I bet there was about 8 thousand workers or more still in the log and maybe only 1-2k in the new setup. Anyway, I managed to get most of them with only a few hundred to a thousand deaths/escapees. I tried preventing what I could but it was inevitable.

 

2. As for the stings/bites... man, did I GET STUNG. Actually, I'm pretty used to it, but man did they STING ME! Honestly, maybe it's just my high pain tolerance, but their sting feels more like a mosquito bite to me. Their bite is honestly worse. Their bites seem to dig through my soft skin and leave more damage than their sting. After about a day or so all of the marks/welts went away and all that remains is a bit of dryness on my hands and a tad bit of itching but honestly, it's manageable. 

 

3. This colony ALSO doesn't care about lighting, which actually made it more difficult to move them lmao. They do get a bit less active during the day when I leave the lights on but keeping their nest lit doesn't seem to bother them one bit. Also, as for their food, they will literally eat ANYYYYTHINNNNG. My hands, any kind of meat (mostly chicken, mine LOVE chicken too!), jolly ranchers (i give them these sparingly because they are a PAIN to clean up), gut loaded superworms, mealworms, fruit flies, literally everything. I have not found anything (that is ant safe, at least) that this colony will NOT happily devour aggressively with a burning passion. They pack quite the temper for little tiny ants. Quite possibly my most aggressive and mean colony. Also the smallest. I seriously don't know why people call them boring at all. They never cease to amaze me.

 

Speaking of which, I have a wild colony outside on my concrete porch. They live in the grass next to/underneath it. Anyway, they had found a small bag of food closer to the wall of the porch, so they had a long trail from their nest to the bag. They were using the crack in the concrete of the porch as basically a highway to get to their food. One day I trimmed and mowed my yard, and accidentally got a bunch of grass clippings on my porch. What did they do with it? They built a cover on top of the crack for their highway. It was so cool. They're seriously amazing. I went outside for a smoke one day and I noticed a solid straight line of grass and went, "What the heck?" and then I noticed what was going on and it was phenomenal. I love them so much. My solenopsis molesta colony never ceases to amaze me either, with their odd tendencies.

 

P.S. As to those saying it'd be easier to catch a queen and raise them from scratch, of course! I have about 13 tetramorium queens I caught just this year that are doing pretty decent. :) I am just very attached to this colony, now more than ever now that I have succeeded in the massive project that was their moving week... lol


  • ANTdrew likes this

#14 Offline rptraut - Posted October 26 2022 - 8:52 PM

rptraut

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 335 posts
  • LocationOntario, Canada
So glad to hear that the move was eventually successful (despite the welts). It sounds like you enjoy Tetramorium ants as much as I do!
  • ANTdrew likes this
My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#15 Offline ANTdrew - Posted October 27 2022 - 2:03 AM

ANTdrew

    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 9,334 posts
  • LocationAlexandria, VA
Congrats! Post photos of your new setup when you can. If you got the queen and a thousand workers, you’re good to go. They will recover any losses astoundingly fast. Honestly, drastically reducing their numbers from time to time may be the best way to keep them manageable. Think bonsai ant-keeping.

I was chilling with a friend by my fire pit one time with a dish of peanuts to snack on. The Tetras nearby found the dish as the sun set. I won’t soon forget the stings on my lips. Even worse was the time one somehow got me when I had to make water outside once!
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#16 Offline rptraut - Posted October 27 2022 - 10:12 AM

rptraut

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 335 posts
  • LocationOntario, Canada

I was going to suggest putting Vaseline on the back of your hands and around your wrists to help prevent bites and stings while handling ants.  Not sure what to suggest to prevent stings while making water......


  • Ant-nig321 likes this
My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#17 Offline QuietWind01 - Posted October 31 2022 - 10:36 AM

QuietWind01

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 15 posts
  • LocationIllinois, USA
I'll have to get some photos when I get around to it. Still waiting on the other nests to attach to their setup.

Yeah they've got plenty of workers... a few thousand easily.

As far as the stings go, I actually think they're manageable enough for me to not worry about it much, I'm usually pretty careful but the stings I do get were manageable pain wise, just itchy.

Side note, since I've made this thread, I had my pheidole bicarinata queen get her first nanitics... she's got 4 or 5 now and I'm waiting for them to move to a new tube :) Such tiny girls! They seem very active and healthy so I'm guessing soon I'll need a nest for them too. They grow very quickly and my last colony had 100 workers in 4 months before they all mysteriously died overnight. (No chemicals or anything, all my other colonies were fine, no sign of illness, bacteria buildup, etc). I was very sad. But hopefully these girls do better!





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: terrarium, move, tetramorium, log, escapees, moving ants

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users