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(Messors) Why is the queen doing all the work?


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#1 Offline Formiga - Posted June 3 2023 - 1:45 AM

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I'm just now noticing that in one of my Messor colonies, with about 10 nanitics, the queen is moving back and forward between the syringe where the brood is and the new nest I want them to move in, fetching some seeds I just dropped there.

 

The nanies are taking care of the brood and the queen is the one traveling around through the tube between setups doing all this work. Isn't this the work for the nanies, while the queen was supposed to stay safe near her eggs and larvae?

 

Or are the nanies too young to risk themselves out?

 

Or is this just a matter of numbers of nanitics?

 

 

I'm puzzled...



#2 Offline Ernteameise - Posted June 3 2023 - 1:58 AM

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How big is the new nest?

With 10 nanitics, it might still be too early for moving them into a nest?

Messors stress out a lot when disturbed (slight shaking/ vibrations and light) and this is the only time I actually see the queens of my two Messor colonies move around.

I am not sure this is a good sign, seeing the queen running around.

 

Is there a chance to keep the colony in the tube you have them in? Or do you need to move them because of dirt and mould?

 

My own rescue colony (queen, around 15 nanitics and brood) I still have in a test tube and they hardly, if ever, leave the tube and I feed them directly at the tube entrance. They do not run around or go out, they mainly only do it when I disturb them (when I check up on them).

If you are interested, this is the colony and their current setup:

https://www.formicul...nts-messor-spp/

 

If you need to move the colony, I have seen the fastest way was to just have the tube they were in exposed to light and then put a covered fresh tube next to it, and they moved in just 30 mins.

 

But moving them into a full on nest?

I suspect this might still be too early and you might just stress them out too much.


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#3 Offline Formiga - Posted June 3 2023 - 2:33 AM

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Thanks for replying, @Ernteameise.

 

The new nest is, I believe, a good size for a founding phase. It's quite small, I've built it myself out of gypsum.

 

I have this new nest for them to move in because they currently are in a syringe running really really dry, but I'm allowing them to move in at their own place.

 

When I got them the new nest, a week ago, the queen moved the eggs around but regretted it and moved them back to the syringe. I'm not in a hurry and I'll let them decide what's better for them.

I'm also still experimenting with watering the new nest and I might not yet got the hang of it for what they need. I've noticed I can fill in the water sponge and it spills down into the nest, and I can easily flood it and of course I don't want that, so I'm being conservative when watering it.

The moisture of the new nest feeds down into the syringe, so I know that at least the air there is moist for the brood and I'm not particularly worried about it running dry.

 

 

I have all my 6 founding queens exposed to light (not direct bright sunlight) and they aren't bothered by it. Vibrations yes, but not light.

 

I've covered the new nest so the queen finds it quieter and she's there inside now, but I can't see what's she's up to. When the brood is still in the syringe, they haven't moved out yet. Again, not worried.

 

 

But regarding the queen doing all the work, I've noticed in some of my other Messor colonies, these inside test tubes, that the queen was the one going for the food. In some of the colonies one or another nani helped, but in none of them I've seen the queen stay by the eggs and the nanies do all the work. Hence my question.


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#4 Offline Ernteameise - Posted June 3 2023 - 2:43 AM

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Thanks for replying, @Ernteameise.

 

The new nest is, I believe, a good size for a founding phase. It's quite small, I've built it myself out of gypsum.

 

I have this new nest for them to move in because they currently are in a syringe running really really dry, but I'm allowing them to move in at their own place.

 

When I got them the new nest, a week ago, the queen moved the eggs around but regretted it and moved them back to the syringe. I'm not in a hurry and I'll let them decide what's better for them.

I'm also still experimenting with watering the new nest and I might not yet got the hang of it for what they need. I've noticed I can fill in the water sponge and it spills down into the nest, and I can easily flood it and of course I don't want that, so I'm being conservative when watering it.

The moisture of the new nest feeds down into the syringe, so I know that at least the air there is moist for the brood and I'm not particularly worried about it running dry.

 

 

I have all my 6 founding queens exposed to light (not direct bright sunlight) and they aren't bothered by it. Vibrations yes, but not light.

 

I've covered the new nest so the queen finds it quieter and she's there inside now, but I can't see what's she's up to. When the brood is still in the syringe, they haven't moved out yet. Again, not worried.

 

 

But regarding the queen doing all the work, I've noticed in some of my other Messor colonies, these inside test tubes, that the queen was the one going for the food. In some of the colonies one or another nani helped, but in none of them I've seen the queen stay by the eggs and the nanies do all the work. Hence my question.

 

Hmm.

No idea what it is about this queen, then.

 

Yes, it would be a good strategy to cover the new nest they should move into with some cardboard so it is nice and dark and cozy, and expose the syringe to light. Keep the gympsum nice and moist (while being careful not to cause flooding!), so when the syringe dries out completely, the colony know exactly into which nice and cozy dark place they should move.

 

I have seen from other Messor keepers that Messors can be stubborn.

I bought my larger Messor colony a wonderful fancy Antcube where they can dig in and built a nest. Well, they have dug tunnels in it, but they still prefer to live in their acrylic nest which is connected to the Antcube arena. So I just leave them to it and it is their choice where they want to live and when they want to move.


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#5 Offline Formiga - Posted June 4 2023 - 9:05 PM

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Thanks again for replying, @Ernteameise, and for all the hints, especially from your rescued Messor colony. I have plenty to read there.

 

One thing that popped into my mind about the new nest: A colder temperature.

It is made out of carved plaster, and painted with acrylic paint (everywhere except the ants' chambers) that helps to make it impermeable.

Nevertheless, some moisture evaporates, and that creates an effect called evaporative cooling (basically the same mechanism of our sweating for cooling).

Touching the nest, it definitely feels cool. Probably way too cool for their liking. But there's no practical way around it except isolating it somehow.

 

Either way, they have options and they decide.

 

 

By the way, is there anyone with a plaster, gypsum or ytong formicarium that can attest they feel cool to the touch?


 

 



#6 Offline Serafine - Posted June 5 2023 - 4:14 AM

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I'm just now noticing that in one of my Messor colonies, with about 10 nanitics, the queen is moving back and forward between the syringe where the brood is and the new nest I want them to move in, fetching some seeds I just dropped there.

 

The nanies are taking care of the brood and the queen is the one traveling around through the tube between setups doing all this work. Isn't this the work for the nanies, while the queen was supposed to stay safe near her eggs and larvae?

 

Or are the nanies too young to risk themselves out?

 

Or is this just a matter of numbers of nanitics?

 

 

I'm puzzled...

 

That's (relatively) normal for Messor, i've read quite a few reports of queens doing workl while the workers care for the brood (or queens supporting the workers).

Once there are more workers and the workers get older this will change.


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#7 Offline Formiga - Posted July 9 2023 - 5:28 PM

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Update: (and many thanks for your replies!)

They haven't moved to the new formicarium and are using it as an outworld and dump site, and still prefer to live in the syringe. Well, if that's what they want...

I've started to feed some water into the syringe from the entrance where one fits the needle in. I only give them 1 or 2 ml of water, as the cotton will easily spill out and flood their chamber. They freak out from the vibrations and I believe they sense the imminent danger of flooding, but quickly calm down and go back to business.

 

Yes it seems Messors can be quite stubborn...

I have another colony that is also inside a syringe, this one completely dried out but they keep on living there.

The syringe is inside a plastic pen case that also has a test tube with water but they never moved there, every once in a while they go there for a sip of water, queen included. I guess the closed case (with a few tiny holes for ventilation) keep the inside of the syringe moist enough for her brood. I think these colonies aren't developing as fast as I expected. Lots of larvae and pupae and they seem about to explode, but I think they're taking a longer time to develop.

 

Fun story: Once the queen decided to move her eggs into the test tube. She brought the eggs in and immediately a worker would grab them and take them out back into the syringe! They went back and forward quite a few times, crossing each other but never realizing they were undoing the other's work! I've watched this for a good 5 minutes until I went away and they kept doing it... Too bad the plastic case is a bit opaque for a good filming, this would make a hilarious video!

 

And regarding the queen doing all the work, when I feed the several colonies of Messors I have on the test tube, they freak out due to the vibration, panic sets in, some workers come to inspect the dead insect and can give it a couple of bites, but generally it is the queen who comes out with freaking open jaws, goes around the insect and then head backs to check on the brood and does this for a couple of times, and later when she's feeling calm she comes back, starts biting and chewing on the insect and then drags it back into the pile of larvae for feeding.


Also, most if not all my Messors enjoy sugar water every once in a while. And it is the queen who usually goes there first and stays there drinking for half an hour or more, returning to her brood (to check them out?) for some seconds and then returning back again for some more drinking.


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