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Walnut Empire- Temnothorax nylanderi


69 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 12 2023 - 11:26 AM

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As a kid, I grew up on a farm, in a rural village surrounded by orchards, vineyards and forest.

Our parents kicked us kids out all day, and we had to entertain ourselves in the great outdoors, until dark, when we had to be back home.

So I have fond memories of building wooden shelters in the forests from sticks and branches, and of course we also collected all kinds of interesting rocks and mosses and tree fruit like acorns.

I remember that I was intrigued by the acorns with the tiny holes in them.

What could possibly live in there?

When I found out I think I was shocked and dropped the acorn, because suddenly, all these tiny golden ants came out.

Acorn ants.

And the species we have here in this region of Germany is Temnothorax nylanderi.

 

I have a bit more space right next to my cherry shrimp tank, so I thought I put a small outworld there for a colony of these tiny but pretty golden ants.

I did some research about their nutrition and habits and had a look how other people catered for these ants.

 

Then I hopped online and ordered a colony from the Antstore. I decided on getting a larger colony of 100 workers. The girls should arrive tomorrow or the day after.

 

Besides the outworld that I already got, I also saw that Foranto, who do these amazing wooden nests, had a sale and I bought their smallest wooden nest for them, too (I hope that will arrive next week).

This nest can be connected to the outworld. I have seen that Temnothorax likes to occupy several nests simultaneously, so then they can decide where they want to reside. 

 

So here is what I came up with:

(I am using paraffin oil as escape prevention, as I do for my Messor barbarus).

 

1204-1.jpg

 

As a water source, I am using a filled glass tube in the outworld;

I used the shells of an organic walnut from our orchard and glued them to the sides; I used children-safe wood-glue; so the white of the glue will dry out to become transparent;

The shells have small openings at the front, around 3-5 millimetres in diameter.

 

 

1204-2.jpg

 

1204-3.jpg

 

And then I added some red-foil to cover the view to the insides of the walnuts; They are just fixed with sticky tape, so I can sneak a peek anytime.

 

1204-5.jpg

 

This will be a real test of my abilities to care for really tiny animals and I hope my escape proofing is up to scratch- otherwise I will be learning by doing.

 


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#2 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 12 2023 - 3:49 PM

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That’s a nice looking setup. I’d recommend getting some fluon for escape proofing.
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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 Ernteameise - Posted April 12 2023 - 11:14 PM

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That’s a nice looking setup. I’d recommend getting some fluon for escape proofing.

One question about this fluon-

I read on the internet that it releases toxic fumes?

Is it really save for the ants?


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#4 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 13 2023 - 2:01 AM

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It is entirely safe for ants. I reapply it in full outworlds all the time with no ill effects.
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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.

#5 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 13 2023 - 9:21 AM

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It is entirely safe for ants. I reapply it in full outworlds all the time with no ill effects.

I will keep that in mind!

I still have a full bottle of Antstore paraffin oil, so as long as things work out, will be using that up.

However, should problems with escapees arise, I will change to fluon.



#6 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 13 2023 - 9:34 AM

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So the new girls arrived!

 

What I like about the Antstore- they always also pack some gummibears in with your delivery.

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_1.jpg

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_3.jpg

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_4.jpg

 

I am VERY positively surprised by these girls.

For one, they are bigger than I expected them to be.

And then I absolutely LOVE their calm and methodical approach to things.

My Messors panic and stress and run away if I do so much as look at them the wrong way. Ants just run around like headless chickens.

Temnothorax:

No panic, no stress.

I can open up the tube no problem, no headless running around, just calm and quiet watching what will happen. Total control.

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_7.jpg

 

Oh, and I right away had a meeting close-up with the queen of the Walnut Empire:

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_8.jpg

 

I offered them some sugar water in a feeder (blue liquid) as well as a small piece of fruit-juice jelly (apple flavour).

I also had found a scientific paper looking into Temnothorax and how they design their nest entrances- so when you offer them fine sand within reach, they will adapt their nest entrance to feel safer.

So I offered some fine sand right next to a nest entrance.

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_5.jpg

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_9.jpg

 

And guess what, 5 minutes after the tube with the ants was in the outworld, the first girls were into the jelly.

Talk about being calm and methodical. And having priorities!

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_10.jpg

 

Walnut_Empire_1304_11.jpg

 

I originally bought the jellies for my Messors, but they had no interest in it whatsoever.

So at least these fruit jellies are now useful and enjoyed by the Walnut Empire!

 

One thing for sure, I am in love with these girls already.


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#7 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 13 2023 - 10:41 AM

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Awesome! Lovely little colony.
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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.

#8 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 13 2023 - 10:42 AM

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I am mesmerized by these girls.

 

Walnut-Empire-1304-13.jpg

 

I also thought- these ants are scavengers, and they will eat anything they can their mandibles on in the forest. Including small seed.

So I also offered them 3 crushed Quinoa seed which I bought for my Messors yesterday.

And behold!

Temnothorax is indeed interested in Quinoa seed. Who would have guessed.

 

Walnut-Empire-1304-12.jpg


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#9 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 13 2023 - 11:14 PM

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Short morning update (more this evening when I am back from my full-time job):

The ants have moved out of the glass tube they came in.

However, the colony is still too small and as far as I can see, they have not moved into the walnuts (yet).

 

Yes, I have ordered a colony 50-100 workers in size, however they must just have come out of hibernation and there was barely any brood in there (only a few eggs and tiny larvae) and I am sad to report that there were many dead ants in the tube when I got it out. I estimate as many as 30!

So the size of the colony might only be at around 50 animals.

Oh well- I hope they will still be able to grow and expand!

 

I have not found out yet where they reside in their new living quarters- but will try and find out tonight.

I suspect they have just moved in between some of the decorative tree bark pieces where there is a smaller space than what the walnut provides- the walnut might just be too big for them at the moment.

 

For the day, I just provided them with a tiny piece of egg and one dead fruit fly.



#10 Offline ANTdrew - Posted April 14 2023 - 2:31 AM

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Most Temnothorax colonies are pretty small by nature, but I’m sure yours will rebound with proper care. Lots of ants always die over the course of the winter. It’s totally natural.
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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 Ernteameise - Posted April 14 2023 - 10:39 AM

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Most Temnothorax colonies are pretty small by nature, but I’m sure yours will rebound with proper care. Lots of ants always die over the course of the winter. It’s totally natural.

I really hope so.

I really have come to adore these girls.

They appear to be very attentive and they are just so laid back and inquisitive.

The polar opposite of my Messors!



#12 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 14 2023 - 10:44 AM

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Well, before I left to work, I had another look on the food dish of these girls, and the fruit fly had disappeared.

So yes, they do like fruit flies.

Sadly I cannot cast any judgement on the egg I fed, because the piece was several millimetres big.

When I came home, it had dried up. It is however possible that they had eaten from it.

I will have to test this again tomorrow or on Sunday, when I am at home and can watch.

 

For tonight, it will be dinner with 3 more fruit flies, a fresh piece of jelly and a tiny fleck of organic ham (which my Messors seem to like).

 

140423_2.jpg
 

Well, guess what-

10 minutes later I had takers for both the fruit flies as well as the ham.

Only the jelly is ignored today- so apparently it is "meat day" today.

 

 

140423-5.jpg

 

And I still have not found out where they live now!

I will have to watch them a bit closer over the weekend to find out where they hide out.

 


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#13 Offline AntsCali098 - Posted April 14 2023 - 10:48 AM

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I definitely agree with you on Temnothorax. I love how laid back and chill they are! Nice little colony, man I should really get another Temnothorax colony...


Edited by AntsCali098, April 14 2023 - 10:49 AM.

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Interested buying in ants? Feel free to check out my shop

Feel free to read my journals, like this one.

 

Wishlist:

Atta sp (wish they were in CA), Crematogaster cerasi, Most Pheidole species

 

 


#14 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 14 2023 - 11:04 AM

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I mean, will you just look at THIS!

 

This is a worker drinking from the sugar water, and she continues drinking and does not even care that I picked up the drinking bottle for taking this picture!

If I would tell this to other people that these ants are that chilled, they would call me crazy.

 

Absolutely-CHILL.jpg

 

And now, all bets are off as to where the colony is hiding!

They have not moved into the walnuts (I guess the colony is too small and the Walnuts are way too big for them)

 

140423-6.jpg


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#15 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 15 2023 - 3:12 AM

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So today I am going to try out if my acorn ants will take egg or pollen pellet.

So far, no takers.

But if I am totally honest, maybe the ants are simply just stuffed from all the food I am throwing at them.

Also, I think I know where the colony is living now!!!!

I see activity going into the tree bark to the left of the picture, under the fake tree, next to the drop of wood glue. They even carry the tiny sandcorns I provided in there.

 

1450423-TN-breakfast.jpg

 

On a more sad note-

I find dead ants in the enclosure.

There were quite a few dead ants in the test tube when they arrived, and I saw the girls also dragging the dead bodies out of the tube (as well as their few eggs and larvae).

And I suspect that at Antstore, the ants had just come out of hibernation and had not even been fed sufficiently before being sent off to me.

This is why they immediately after arrival swarmed over the fruit jelly like they were starved.

So not sure if finding these dead ants is a bad sign.

 

150423-TN-dead.jpg



#16 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 15 2023 - 8:02 AM

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So looks as if there is some interest in the egg at least

 

150423-Egg.jpg

 

And here is a picture of the ants collecting sand- so the scientific paper I found is indeed right and they use it for shaping their nest entrance

 

150423-Sand.jpg

 

So far no further dead bodies-

I just hope the death spell has been broken and it really was just the aftermath of hibernation and travel.


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#17 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 17 2023 - 10:09 AM

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Antstore also sells food.

I thought I try it out.

For Messor species, they sell a mix of tubes containing different size seed (ranging for tiny seed to normal grains of wheat) as well as different powders.

One powder is a sugar which you can mix with water for creating sugar water.

Another powder is "frugivore"- I tried it myself and it appears to be powdered dried banana. This you also mix with water to create a paste.

And then they have "protein" food- which I assume is just ground up insects, which you also mix with water for a paste. The ground up insects reminds me very much of the insectivore mix that we feed to wild insectivorous birds ( I worked with wild birds for my Master and PhD degrees at university).

 

I also tried these powders with the Walnut Empire, and yes, they also take it.

 

1704-Powdered-food.jpg

 

Just a cute shot of them eating:

 

1704-Walnut-Empire-Yummy.jpg

 

However, the reason why I came on here is a different one.

My setup is now complete!!

I am getting older, and watching the Walnut Empire means I have to strain my old eyes.

So I thought- there are these magnifying glasses which help older people to read. This is exactly what I need!

Behold!

The Walnut Empire got a magnifying glass so I am able to watch them much better.

Nobody will now be able to complain about the size of these ants anymore!

To paraphrase my dad, whose life motto is "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing" --- "There is no small ant. Just insufficient magnification."

 

1704-Walnut-Empire-Lupe-2.jpg

 

This is really cool!

 

1704-Walnut-Empire-Lupe1.jpg

 

You may laugh now.


Edited by Ernteameise, April 17 2023 - 10:57 AM.

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#18 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 19 2023 - 11:00 AM

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Today I put my plants (cacti and lemon trees as well as my little herb garden) outside on my balcony (I hope the big frosts are over) and when I had the vermiculite in my hands, I decided to add a small corner to the Walnut Empire. This way, I can moisten it, and it will help increasing and holding humidity in the enclosure.

 

1904-Walnut-Empire-Vermiculit.jpg

 

I am in love with these girls.

They are very enthusiastic with most foods I offer them.

Today, we have some sugar paste, pollen grains, 3 fruitflies and Antstore insect paste.

I am happy to report that they appear to like all of these.

 

Aren't they just adorable? And I love the magnifying glass, this makes it so much easier to watch them.

 

1904-Walnut-Empire-1.jpg

 

1904-Walnut-Empire-2.jpg


Edited by Ernteameise, April 19 2023 - 11:01 AM.

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#19 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 19 2023 - 1:04 PM

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One observation I made:

These Temnothorax are most active in the late afternoon and evening.

Then, they are out in force.

It feels as if the whole colony is out, exploring the outworld, drinking from the test tube, feeding and generally running around. There is lots to see and it is a joy to watch.

They are much less active in the morning- yes, a couple come out and see if I drop in a fruit fly or top up the sugar slurry, but it never is a mass event like in the evening.

I also used a red torch to shine in at night, and there was no activity at night whatsoever.

 

This is interesting.

 

With my Messors, they are active all day, even at night, there is plenty of activity. I read they are diurnal, but somehow, they are just active 24 / 7.

 

But with the Walnut Empire, I see a clear pattern.

 

So in a way, the Temnothorax are the ideal ants for someone like me who works all day and is looking for some relaxation when coming home from work- it is very rewarding seeing the ants reacting to evening feeding and see all the activity when I am back home.


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#20 Offline Ernteameise - Posted April 20 2023 - 11:42 AM

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Just a picture to show that they are indeed most active right now, in the evening:

 

2004-Walnut-Empire-food.jpg

 

Also, I have seen some workers picking other workers up and carry them around, sometimes quite rough and forceful.

The other ant is still alive, this is not a transport of dead bodies.

I assume this is recruitment?

I have seen recruitment before, and I know that Formicines have a different way of carrying their sisters than Myrmecines do. But somehow, these Temnothorax do it both ways?

And they are not gentle with it at all.

I am confused.

 

2004-Walnut-Empire-Recruiting1.jpg


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