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KATLA's Myrmecocystus Mexicanus

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#1 Offline Katla - Posted November 8 2022 - 6:00 AM

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This i hope, will be the start of my journal for my young Myrmecocystus Mexicanus "Foundation"

They have until now been kept in a grouted test tube, set in a "Tubs and Tubes" setup. Overall temperature has been set at 25 to 27 C°


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(Tubs and Tubes setup)
 

My plan is to give them a new setup as mentioned in my help topic, the tank is; 60cm long, 6.5 cm wide and 30 cm tall. It has and approximative capacity of 12 L about 3.17 Gallons. 

I tried to create a substrate layering, the substrate level is at maximum of 20 Cm deep.
Top layering is a mixture of clay pebble, fine rend sand and thicker reddish desert sand. 
Second layer is a mixture of dirt an clay mixture around 10 cm thick.
Third and bottom layer is made out of Pozzolane for drainage and moisture storage.

 

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(Actual Tank in the process of curing the top layer moisture)


For moisture i have placed a direct tube to the bottom layer and intend to periodically moisten the top level as in natures cycles.
The composition of the top layer substrate would allow it to Harden, insiting the ants to choose a moiste spot to dig the main entrance.
I did testing for temperature control, i entend to lock overworld temperatures at 30 C° during day using a heat spot. During day cycle the first 10 cm of substrate keep at 27 to 29 C°, lower levels stay at 25 C°. This i hope will allow the ants to choose room level for different temperature and humidity gradients. 

During day time cycle aprx 12 hours, a Thermostate will control a 50W heating bulb and a 20W heat strip. During night time the Thermostate timer will turn off the Heat Light and only rely on the heat strip to keep underground temperature stable above 25 C°.

The overworld is populated bu succulentes and one cactae,  fauna will be also introduced as for now a European garden roach female as found it suitable for her to carry and maybe drop her ootheca, i also have 1 (mated) European earwig.


(I entend to share everything visually with everyone, this topic was started so i can adjust my personal routine. i will in couple of houres be able to share pictures, same goes for the text structure)


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#2 Offline ANTdrew - Posted November 8 2022 - 1:54 PM

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I like your detailed start. Looking forward to following their progress.
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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.

#3 Offline Katla - Posted November 8 2022 - 6:35 PM

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thank you, at the moment I'm waiting for the pupae to hatch before moving them, and also giving the setup enough time to dry out the top layer


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#4 Offline T.C. - Posted November 10 2022 - 12:03 AM

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Monitor and be careful with the 50Watt bulb.  It could heat it up overtime and raise the temperature too high. I accidentally baked a formica colony years ago.


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" Whatever You Are, Be a Good One "


#5 Offline Katla - Posted November 20 2022 - 9:19 PM

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I decided 2 days ago to move the test tube into the terrarium, all went well before i chose to push them out by light to encourage digging. I as mentioned above baked my Queen, have baked to be honest she has for now retrieved most of her ability's and is under careful watch of mine. I monitor her every move.

The foundation had started foraging the sand covered landscape, very fascinating to see them speed over the corse sand at baking 30C°. I also decided to move before any next newborns because their first repletes where already getting fatty, i don't know yet how they will choose to go underground if they'll use my premade holde into the tough clay substrate surface. As said i choose after 48h to add a small 20w spot from the side, i did see one worker starting to pick up pebbles frome the "premade hole". But then i saw the queen, crimpled together all legs bent towards her thorax, white icy veins over the abdomen. 

My first reaction was to get her out of the tube and identify any death signs, there i saw her 1 leg pair agitate and her antenna and head still smelling like looking around for help (sad feeling to be honest). I slowly gave her coller ambient temperatures and gave water droplets. She started keeping on her normal side again and still agitating her antennas i put her back into the terrarium with the rest of her Colony who had started pilling brood and repletes outside.

They have now started nesting outdoors, i served a new grouted tube they explored but did not invest in. 

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I will continue monitoring closely for now, the queen was able to use at least her two front leg pairs, gaster has gone to usual nectar color. I will not feed them sugar anymore only protein and damp sand for moisture.

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Edited by Katla, March 6 2023 - 9:00 AM.

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#6 Offline ANTdrew - Posted November 21 2022 - 3:08 AM

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Why would you not feed sugars?
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#7 Offline United-Ants - Posted November 21 2022 - 7:46 AM

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They need sugar or they will die honey pot ants require way more sugar then protein

#8 Offline Katla - Posted November 22 2022 - 6:31 AM

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What i meant was to temporarily stop giving sugar to them for the queen to thin down.

I made a small hole next to their resting place, some scouted it out. After adding a little moisture to the hole one worker did go in and came out with a small lump of sand, some time after 2 others joined her and it started that way. They dug through the night, at one point they lured the queen to enter the cavity but they only made a tunnel for a regular "ant" sized, it did look pretty hilarious having the queens gaster stick out of the ground. Not sure if the queen had recollected her self after the incident from yesterday i stayed and watched to make sure she wouldn't just be stuck and couldn't move by herself, she did manage to get out by her self after all and went back to her corner. The workers went on digging so i left them over night.

 

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This morning i had a pretty sight as none but one replete was left in the corner of the overworld, plenty of dugout dark red Substrate from the second sand clay layer so i have an idea of how deep they went and I'm also sure they are actually expanding a main chamber just 5 or 7 cm beneath the surface.

IMG_20221122_150646_B002.jpg?width=935&h


Edited by Katla, March 6 2023 - 9:00 AM.

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#9 Offline Katla - Posted November 23 2022 - 12:58 AM

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Again i am just amazed at watching them nanitics franticly rune on the 39 C° overworld, dropping their dirt lumps as fast as they can and sweep back inside the nest. Here just a small update that they reached second substrate level and also started digging against the glass !

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Here the "grey" substrate when dried and dark red when moist 

 

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And the actual sneak peek of what was dug near the moisture level


Edited by Katla, November 23 2022 - 1:01 AM.

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#10 Offline Katla - Posted November 25 2022 - 4:27 PM

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Hello everyone reading !

I have now introduced a day night cycle for my setup, temps won't drop under 25C° in the overworld and not under 18 in the corners. Center segment is on constant heating pad at 25.8 at max 26.5C°. i have "Simulated" rain to rehydrate the top layer and assimilate dug up substrates to the ground still showing the color gradients, the entrance got blocked by clay and i purred a little sand to rescape. The ants have decided on a much small entrance this time only fitting a small worker with a full gaster. I also changed the sugar water as i think the old one had fermented, seems to have been the case as they did not hesitate on the new sugar source.

I found 2 still intact nanitics pupae in the corner of the overworld, but also larger 3 empty cocoons. They now bring up 1st level substrate again so i suppose they expand the main chamber.

The new day night cycle has indeed shown some effect as they do forage more numerous at night when the heat spot is off, i am obviously still open to suggestion especially on their local habits in nature if you people can give me any. I can't say if every one is still alive under there but again foraging and digging is active and they did immediately rely onto the moisture of the bottom pozzolane for hydration as "intended". I am still hoping on finding a small arid plant that would secrete honeydew and or any insects that rely on succulents and produce sugar.

With regards Katla


Edited by Katla, December 13 2022 - 10:34 AM.

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#11 Offline ANTdrew - Posted November 26 2022 - 4:01 AM

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I had a kalanchoe houseplant once get fully infested with scale insects. They dripped honeydew all over.
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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.

#12 Offline Katla - Posted November 26 2022 - 8:18 AM

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I do live in temperate climate so maybe these insects don't follow up as the plants do, i can have my Kalanchoe outdoors pretty much all year long and they never had any insects sadly.


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#13 Offline Katla - Posted December 9 2022 - 9:21 AM

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The cactus present in the setup seems to have grown two distinct bulb you slightly see them in the pictures above as 2 white dotes, do you think they will produce flowers and if they do will they provide any nectar for the ants to collect ?

 


Edited by Katla, December 9 2022 - 9:22 AM.

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#14 Offline Katla - Posted December 9 2022 - 9:22 AM

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Edited by Katla, December 9 2022 - 9:23 AM.

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#15 Offline ANTdrew - Posted December 10 2022 - 3:15 AM

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Those flowers certainly would provide nectar. Ants love to forage on the Opuntia humifusa flowers I have in my yard. Each bloom only lasts a day or so on those, 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.

#16 Offline Katla - Posted December 10 2022 - 8:54 AM

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i am thinking of adding a fake cactae to the setup and somehow tweak it so that i can use it as a sugar liquid feeder, i just can't find any suitable replicas


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#17 Offline Katla - Posted December 13 2022 - 10:32 AM

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Hello !

No visual news unless i count the substrate that got brought on surface the last week and the cavity that has been dug out in the last showed galerie.

The ants have now adapted to a total night life and only come out once the heat bulb is set off by the timer, they do not forage for dry protein only fresh protein is taken by the colony by now. Which means i have to feed them fresh small to tiny crickets every night once the heat is off (i suppose that's their natural behavior ?). Three new empty cocoons have been dumped outside of the nest entrance, i didn't see any other though i must say i do not meticulously scavenge for any residues in corners, beneath large plants or under dug substrate. I have given them 4 crickets tonight to see how much they will process per day. Sadly one of my succulents didn't make it and died, given the fact that it was the one closest to the nest entrance i feel like she got a small dose of acid sprayed on, bu that's only a guess as i wasnt present to see any activity for a week. I will now use my time to observe their activity through the nights this week, room temperature do drop to 10 C° yest because of the heat mat placed on the back of the formicarium the overworld temps never drop below 20. So far for my observations and findings for this update.

Now to some questions;

Do i need to control overworld temps and give them a chance to drop below 20 during night time ? i suppose the ants come from New Mexico, besides internet meteorologic data i have no way of knowing what happens out there in the desert at night.
Some local advice and suggestions would be appreciated.

Should i stop providing light cover on the side where the ants have dug against the glass ? they seemed very calm during founding in test tubes and had no particular reaction to light in any sort.


I will provide some insight pictures during the week and of the outworld, they started scattering substrate farther away from the nest entrance.

With regards Katla.


Edited by Katla, December 13 2022 - 10:34 AM.

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#18 Offline Katla - Posted December 16 2022 - 2:11 AM

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Just a small overview video of the setup after 3 weeks

 


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#19 Offline Katla - Posted March 6 2023 - 8:08 AM

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Alright i actually don't know where this is going towards.

And i mean the "Blog" it self and the post I'm tipping, yet this is supposed to be a forum so i decided to post this in my blogs so I'm open to answers following this one. So long as its constructive  :yes: .

First of its tough to keep on posting something as i don't want it just to be a story of having spotted a worker running around looking just how the terrain has changed around her nest, so having a "natural" setup with variable conditions including climate / Humidity / Food / Temperature (ill be talking about this later). the colony is not growing perfectly ( still i think in the Interior they must have the best time of their lives and that's just worth it of the start ) i Kind like to keep in mind that I'm literally playing god on the level of a big glass aquarium, sur one cut in a 1/4 world but still. Girls have it like home yet with coller temps i guess as i can't heat the whole room, the setup is directly heated by a mat so even if the room gets to freezing temperatures (which it can't but still like 9C°) as its a closed setup they can still catch on an internal chamber temperature of at least 26.5 constant heat which is perfect for some slow grow and a formidable Health life condition and they don't face any threat its like life on holiday. they have constant food access and a more limited but constant protein in form of insects (T2, 3 Redrunner Roaches and same size Crickets) which they sometimes take in whole or just don't care of, i feel like in other condition they would take them in any time but not in that setup. I see sometimes some cocoons lying around, I'm sadly lost in my personal life so i don't take any specific and detailed follow up on counts so i don't know how match but its constant and still no dead workers. 

The thinner right side panel is closed with a thermal fabric/plastic mostly for light but thermal kinda Work to protect the glas temperature it self like the front sheet just to keep the internal temperature constant and or on a low Gradient (must be cozy). On the not of not taking count or sadly follow up i intend to name a couple of workers and surely the queen (with a name that also says that even though I'm sure she is alive i will never see her ever again or lets hops the future room will be large enough I'm sure they will get large ( the outworld has changed a lot) i now find the lower level pebbles, only very small ones and only 4 or 5. I havent shared here yet but i got, not the scare of my life but a deep bref sadness and scar when i found this, 

 

No it is not her it is a roach i had placed but i forgot.

Now i must say i the développement is very slow,  it seems if not overfed or heated they don't really seem to feel like exploding populations and just live as they want like humidity is constant in lower level and they do use it. And my personal view is limited to the "Outworld" they only use at dawn as they do  :) (Who's the boy who 
didn't think about non diurnal species ?) still when they decide to storm out it is the blas to see six worker of different amber, butter and honey large ants rune around exploring cleaning and sometimes drinking honey. 

 

 

20230201_231609.jpg?width=1440&height=67

 

 

didn't think about non diurnal species ?) still when they decide to storm out it is the blas to see six worker of different amber, butter and honey large ants rune around exploring cleaning and sometimes drinking honey. 

Sometimes i allow my self a peek in the only internal pathway (note here it is not even a chamber) which they scatter up and down curiously at the light, at some point i could

swear i peeked a large ember shining gaster. Let me show you what i can see ( imagine it with some bright light, yet they still managed this moisture to cover the thinnest corners)

 

 

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So i don't know what this blog is going to give until they grow mature enough to be actively enough and feed constantly outside, and in a time when they while have dug up the large inner chambers with repletes (NO i won't give any unnatural bright colored red/blue/green stuff to my ants to make it looke like an underground disco, i intend to see it as a chamber clustered with golden amber marbles) i will still post these discussion of what i feel about and what i spot and my care habits, for example i monthly remove debris and dust that forms from dug up material that is made out of sand that crumbles and also monthly water the overworld creating small puddles that dure for half an hour and evaporate. Top level is usually hard and dry and i have recently closed the top lid to form in "internal > external gradient" formed some condensation outside so i opened the the side connections (they don't bother climbing the glass and never even came in contact with the PTFE, and even if one climbed out they would only find near cold and freezing spots for now. I intend to use meshed grides for the side 50 mm openings in summer for air flow with closed lid unless in heat waves with 30 + outdoor temperatures at what point i would keep to PTFE and open top.

 

Still I'm fascinated by any of their behavior's, I'm still feeling that child i was when i just open the side pane and watch them go up and down for at least an hour not feeling my feet anymore because i can't sit down or stand up. I fish i can finally set them up in a good isolated room and on a stand i can sit to watch them and also film. But i still just hang out and loose my mind far away watching them doing ant stuff, can't wait to try some interaction on their group behavior when the plenty. Flora seem to spread slowly also as i fed them proteins flakes mixed with dry seed who started to spring after the rare watering most seem not to survive due to the harsh dry conditions but then offer some material for the one who seem to endure and survive it, one succulent has died the other two are still alive on is having a tough time but seem to gor through the other one has the same time but is now back to a freshening green (il still looking at aphids that could be living on them if you people have any suggestions) the cactus is going great still i feel he is going to boom in summer with greater heat. I could sit for hours just watching them can't imagine what it will be when i will see some side chamber on the lengthy pane.

I am thinking of making drawings of Mexicanus, i feel like i can recognize the different first workers so I'm thinking of naming them.
And here is also the main Questions for this blog Should i name the Queen and what name, i would like to think of a south American and or Mexicano Hispanic name the meaning if there is one of the name is still in the air. 

Observation in th colony, the ants seem to prefer Marple syrup to the usual sunburst nectar liquide i propose, my Mexican girls have a taste for Canadian sugar it feels like. Insect choice is skittish yes they seem to prefer the roach's to any of the crickets i give. I though of growing small crickets in the setup would you guys have any suggestion (i will wait for the mesh side caps as they seem to be Escape artists.

I hope this post has brought any insights on the colony and my personal thoughts, again I'm open to any constructive question/answers hope to answer and post soon.


Regards.

KATLA

 


Edited by Katla, March 6 2023 - 8:11 AM.

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#20 Offline Katla - Posted March 24 2023 - 5:40 AM

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Nothing thrilling happening right now, but i can assure that i have one empty pupae in the outworld each day. I will start courting them when desgarding as long as i don't have no desert isopods (IF anyone can suggest isopods that live in same conditions) I'm thinking of catching a small south french scorpion but i need some more fauna in there. After last clean up i did a small substrate add to the top layer to smooth out and the ants had to make a new entrance, which this time is quite larger ands less covered.


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