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Should I "Prune" an Overgrown Colony?

tetramorium

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#1 Offline rptraut - Posted March 28 2023 - 1:11 AM

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I have a number of colonies that I feel will soon be overgrown.  I prefer my colonies on the small to medium size, but I have a Tetramorium colony that will soon be reaching epic proportions if left unchecked.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind large colonies, but I have a Camponotus colony that reached "scary" size last summer and I considered letting them forage outside to relieve some of the congestion.  The challenge of coming up with a queen excluder that would still allow majors to come and go was just too great, so I added an outworld instead to solve the overcrowding problem.  I'm thinking that I might let this Tetramorium colony out to forage because I have a screen that those persistent little workers will find their way through, but I know a queen can't.    I always wanted to do this with a colony and their numbers might be "thinned" by natural means.  

 

On the other hand, I grow bonsai trees and am very familiar with the thinning and pruning that's required to keep them small.  The tree is allowed to grow, and that new growth is then pruned away, encouraging new growth and this keeps the tree vibrant and healthy.  I propose doing something similar with an overgrown ant colony.  Once a batch of larvae has pupated, an equivalent number of mature workers would be removed before the pupae/cocoons eclose.  Essentially pruning away the new growth to keep the colony number the same, in balance with its housing and environment.  Don't worry about the how and humaneness of it right now, just consider the concept.  I feel I'm in a position where I have to do something, or I won't be able to risk an outbreak which somehow seems inevitable if the colony keeps increasing the way it has been.  Already there have been serious attempts.  I've read that we're not supposed to release colonies back to the wild (this one came from my garden) so if I can't keep them to a manageable size, I'll have to destroy them all.  What other options do I have?  

 

RPT


  • ANTdrew likes this
My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#2 Offline ANTdrew - Posted March 28 2023 - 2:13 AM

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I’m an advocate of pruning. I may even need to prune my Pheidole colony soon myself. I read once that EO Wilson kept an Oecophylla colony in a “bonsai form,” so that’s where the idea first came to my mind. Colony numbers in captivity can grow to enormous sizes since no workers are lost to predation, weather, or other causes as they would in the wild. If you only cull workers in the outworld, you’ll be essentially pruning the oldest parts of the colony.
On the other hand, even though huge Tetramorium colonies are kind if scary, they are poor climbers and can be easily contained if any and all gaps are sealed and fluon is properly applied. Take a look at my CrematoProof outworlds for ideas on how to contain mega-colonies of tiny ants.
  • FinWins likes this
"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 rptraut - Posted March 28 2023 - 3:03 AM

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Thanks for your help. I thought my setups were escape proof but they are persistent and due to their numbers are able to overcome my mineral oil barrier by putting debris on it or simply by storming the gate and running on top of each other. They also are able to force their way through the screen I use, given enough time and their determination. To thin the herd I anticipated purging an outworld that is separate from the main one, of the required number of ants at the appropriate time. It somehow seems fitting that I should keep Bonsai ant colonies as well as Bonsai trees!
  • FinWins likes this
My father always said I had ants in my pants.

#4 Offline aznphenom - Posted March 28 2023 - 5:22 AM

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I’m an advocate of pruning. I may even need to prune my Pheidole colony soon myself. I read once that EO Wilson kept an Oecophylla colony in a “bonsai form,” so that’s where the idea first came to my mind. Colony numbers in captivity can grow to enormous sizes since no workers are lost to predation, weather, or other causes as they would in the wild. If you only cull workers in the outworld, you’ll be essentially pruning the oldest parts of the colony.
On the other hand, even though huge Tetramorium colonies are kind if scary, they are poor climbers and can be easily contained if any and all gaps are sealed and fluon is properly applied. Take a look at my CrematoProof outworlds for ideas on how to contain mega-colonies of tiny ants.

Did you post a setup of this CrematoProof of yours?

 

I am also a pruner. I essentially culled all the workers in the outworld every few months when I clean it out. Recently, I have learned that soapy water seems to kill them almost instantly. Pure does nothing. I have them crawling back up the sinks non stop for hours/days. 


Keeps: Camponotus, Tetra
 

Wants (Please reach out if you have them for sale if you’re in the US): Acromyrmex Sp., Atta Sp., Cephalotes Sp., Myrmecocystus Sp (Prefer Mexicanus), Odontomachus Sp. (Prefer Desertorum), Pachycondyla Sp., Pheidole Sp (Prefer Rhea. The bigger the better. Not the tiny bicarinata), Pogonomyrmex Sp (Prefer Badius)., Pseudomyrmex Sp. (Prefer the cute yellow ones)

 


#5 Offline Katla - Posted March 28 2023 - 5:28 AM

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I am an absolute advocate for pruning overgrowing colonies in this in their best interest, i you can't give them the rooom they would need why then ? so i never over feed my ants and give them some low sugar protein periods


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#6 Offline ANTdrew - Posted March 28 2023 - 5:54 AM

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I’m an advocate of pruning. I may even need to prune my Pheidole colony soon myself. I read once that EO Wilson kept an Oecophylla colony in a “bonsai form,” so that’s where the idea first came to my mind. Colony numbers in captivity can grow to enormous sizes since no workers are lost to predation, weather, or other causes as they would in the wild. If you only cull workers in the outworld, you’ll be essentially pruning the oldest parts of the colony.
On the other hand, even though huge Tetramorium colonies are kind if scary, they are poor climbers and can be easily contained if any and all gaps are sealed and fluon is properly applied. Take a look at my CrematoProof outworlds for ideas on how to contain mega-colonies of tiny ants.

Did you post a setup of this CrematoProof of yours?

 

I am also a pruner. I essentially culled all the workers in the outworld every few months when I clean it out. Recently, I have learned that soapy water seems to kill them almost instantly. Pure does nothing. I have them crawling back up the sinks non stop for hours/days. 

 

Just type CrematoProof into the search bar and you'll find multiple threads where I posted about them. I have models for sale as well. 


"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 ANTdrew - Posted March 28 2023 - 5:58 AM

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Thanks for your help. I thought my setups were escape proof but they are persistent and due to their numbers are able to overcome my mineral oil barrier by putting debris on it or simply by storming the gate and running on top of each other. They also are able to force their way through the screen I use, given enough time and their determination. To thin the herd I anticipated purging an outworld that is separate from the main one, of the required number of ants at the appropriate time. It somehow seems fitting that I should keep Bonsai ant colonies as well as Bonsai trees!

One big benefit of fluon is that ants cannot stick anything to it to form escape bridges. It is pricy, but entirely worth it. 


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

#8 Offline aznphenom - Posted March 28 2023 - 6:38 AM

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Talcum is gold standard to me. 


  • FelixTheAnter likes this
Keeps: Camponotus, Tetra
 

Wants (Please reach out if you have them for sale if you’re in the US): Acromyrmex Sp., Atta Sp., Cephalotes Sp., Myrmecocystus Sp (Prefer Mexicanus), Odontomachus Sp. (Prefer Desertorum), Pachycondyla Sp., Pheidole Sp (Prefer Rhea. The bigger the better. Not the tiny bicarinata), Pogonomyrmex Sp (Prefer Badius)., Pseudomyrmex Sp. (Prefer the cute yellow ones)

 


#9 Offline T.C. - Posted March 28 2023 - 9:10 PM

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I had a colony I let forage outside. It was okay for a month until they packed up shop overnight and left the formicarium altogether. I personally am a big fan of housing a large colony rather than a small colony.

" Whatever You Are, Be a Good One "


#10 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 4 2023 - 11:52 AM

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Sorry if I derail the thread.

I am a newbie.

I understand that "pruning" a colony is what fruit growers do to their trees and I understand it is also done with bee hives.

I was not aware one could also apply this to ants, although your points make sense and I guess it is similar to above examples and will have similar benefits.

My question is-

How would one go about it?



#11 Offline rptraut - Posted April 4 2023 - 4:05 PM

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Yesterday I pruned an overgrown Tapinoma colony.  I used a hand-held rechargeable vacuum cleaner and the freezer.   When they are truly overcrowded, you don't need to search for limbs to prune - they come to you!


  • Ernteameise likes this
My father always said I had ants in my pants.





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