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AntsTopia's Atta Mexicana Journal (Updated 2/4/24)

atta mexicana ants leaf cutter ants journals journal atta leaf cutting ants leaf cutters leaf-cutter ants leaf-cutting ants

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#41 Offline AntsTopia - Posted August 30 2023 - 8:38 PM

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This isn't a update but more of a picture update. I finally got a macro camera. These may not be the best shots, however I'm still figuring it out.

The fungus is growing rapidly but for some reason a ton of workers died. Hopefully I get a atta mexicana worker boost at the end of the week. I think the workers died of old age as their jaws looked very old and did not look sharp as some of the younger workers.

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Ants are just better.


#42 Offline That_one_ant_guy - Posted August 30 2023 - 8:50 PM

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Some tips for the macro is to have Tons of light, and to adjust the phone instead of the the zoom to focus the camera

Edited by That_one_ant_guy, August 30 2023 - 8:50 PM.

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#43 Offline AntsTopia - Posted September 5 2023 - 10:58 AM

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Update 9/5/23

There is a lot to update on. Sorry for the delay, a lot has happened in my personal life.

One night I noted that the top of the fungus was collapsing and did not think much of it. The next morning the whole fungus collapsed and the ants were busy moving the broken fungus underneath the big mesh thing.

Then I decided to take out the mesh. I was noticing some of the larger workers were having a lot of issues going underneath the fungus because of the separator between the fungus and the gypsum. So I carefully removed the fungus from the mesh and put it on the gypsum. I know this was very risky but I was willing to make it happen for the better. A few days later the fungus grew a lot and is doing great.

Their garbage area and outworld are coming soon and should be added this week according to UPS.

The ants have on and off breaks of when they want to chop leaves. For instance one day they will just relax and just care for the fungus. The next day they will chop leaves like crazy. Its very interesting honestly.

I will continue to update this journal and try to make it the 3rd or 4th longest atta journal in formiculture history.
(It's gonna take a while doe)

Here is some pics of the current colony.




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Ants are just better.


#44 Offline Jonathan5608 - Posted September 5 2023 - 11:03 AM

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Looking good
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#45 Offline CAantz - Posted September 5 2023 - 11:24 AM

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If you notice the fungus dying a lot you should probably put the mesh back on
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#46 Offline AntsTopia - Posted September 5 2023 - 12:43 PM

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Yes of course if I see a unusual amount of dead fungus I will place the fungus back on the mesh. However I see a lot of leaf cutter keepers without the mesh and just the plaster/gypsum and the colonies do fine. At this point I would think of it as a 30/70 with the fungus dying or the fungus succeeding.

Edited by AntsTopia, September 6 2023 - 6:57 AM.

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#47 Offline ANTdrew - Posted September 5 2023 - 3:40 PM

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You basically already have the third longest Atta journal of all time.
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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.

#48 Offline AntsTopia - Posted September 8 2023 - 4:01 AM

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54F08949-476C-4A35-B7E3-9F89282E20C1.jpeg Update 9/8/23 

 

Hello everyone! Got some new updates!

 

The colony has been growing rapidly with the queen constantly pumping out eggs and the fungus growing fast. I was concerned about the fungus touching the wet plaster so I decided to get a lid and place the fungus on top. The ants were happy about it and did not seem upset about the upgrade. 
 

I got the 2 Wakooshi pods and a three way connecter with tubes. I connected the garbage and the foraging area. I put some water in the leaf area but to my surprise the ants took a tiny piece of fungus and put it in the leaf pod and then started feeding it so it grew to a small piece of fungus. And this is only within a night. So, what should I do? Take out the small piece of fungus and put it with the main colony or just leave it there and let them grow it.

 

Thanks for reading this journal! 

Attached Images

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Ants are just better.


#49 Offline ANTdrew - Posted September 8 2023 - 2:05 PM

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I say give them a more open outworld that the ants perceive as outside. Otherwise, just trust their judgement. They’re smarter than us in many ways.
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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.

#50 Offline 100lols - Posted September 8 2023 - 5:30 PM

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From an efficiency perspective, if the conditions are correct for fungus growth where the leaves are placed, it makes sense.
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#51 Offline AntsTopia - Posted September 17 2023 - 1:10 PM

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Update 9/17/23

Hey everyone here's some new updates on my leaf cutter ant colony!

So since the last update the colony decided they would move all the fungus back from the foraging pod and back to their nest pod. After this I decided that 3 pods was too much for such a small leaf cutter colony so I took removed the foraging pod.

I then decided to combine the garbage and the foraging needs together in one pod. One side was for garbage and the other for leaves. I gave this specific pod no water as the garbage can not have moisture. The colony is having some issues with garbage disposing but I'll get to that later.

After the colony moved their fungus out of the foraging pod and I removed it the colony's growth was very fast. And luckily they stopped their whole "We don't want to eat our favorite leaves anymore and we will stop cutting for a couple days". The colony is always cutting now and does not take any breaks which is a relief because I never knew when the colony wanted leaves.

Then one morning they decided to move the queen and a small portion of the fungus off the little plastic cover that was protecting the fungus from the moist gypsum. They moved the small fungus to the edge of the pod. Then I thought they would just stop there but no they dragged the giant mother fungus all the way to where the small fungus piece was. 6 worker ants just dragged it like it was tiny which it is not. These ants are the definition of strong and strength. That being said the plastic protector I gave them was deserted with not a single fungus bit left. So I took it out.

So this is where we are now a big fungus mass next to a small wall looking fungus.
I am in love with this colony however the only problem now is that they refuse to dispose garbage I their fungus pod. I have moved some deaf fungus there already but they keep disposing of the dead fungus in their nest pod which is annoying and
not to metion dangerous for the colony's fungus. Suggestions for trying to dead fungus potty train them is appreciated lol.

Anyway here is some current pictures of the colony!20230917_170454.jpg
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Edited by AntsTopia, September 17 2023 - 1:11 PM.

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#52 Offline CAantz - Posted September 17 2023 - 3:24 PM

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I think that they might be putting the trash in the nest chamber because the fungus is small enough that it is far enough away from the trash that maybe it is not affected. Also, because they are still a small colony, they might not have enough trash where they need another place to put it. However, I’m not an expert, but the ants will probably move it out of the fungus pod if it starts being a problem.

Edited by CAantz, September 17 2023 - 3:25 PM.

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#53 Offline AntsTopia - Posted October 14 2023 - 12:24 PM

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Hey everyone! I have not posted in a while and well I have a lot of update for you guys. 
 

Remember that little wall border thing they had going? Well it got massive! And then of course it got unstable and fell over. Expecting that it would take them a while to build it back up, I was genuinely surprised when I realized that they completely made it a very thick tower/Sky scraper thing the next day.

 

Then to my excitement, they were properly disposing of their garbage in their desired waste area where it was dry and nowhere near the fungus. However at that point it was too late. Mold started to grow in their old waste places in their fungus pod. I knew that mold is bad for the fungus. So I did an emergency move to a new clean and humid wakooshi pod. I just went in their with a glove and picked it up. And all the workers and the queen were fine. They then had an explosion of brood and workers. There, they created a new fungus pile next to the huge fungus. And that is where we are now with a small fungus garden growing next to a huge fungus garden.

 

This is good news however the bad news is the fungus has consumed the queen. I noticed after a while that the queen kept going inside the fungus more and more often and finally one day she completely submerged herself inside the giant gaping hole in the fungus. And the only I could see her if I really got up close to the pod and looked. And then came the day that they completely covered the hole in fungus. So now the queen is in the center of the fungus and will never be coming out again apparently. I knew this day would come but I thought I had more time with her. Well at least she feels safe and not exposed to light anymore.

 

Anyway thanks everyone for reading this journal!


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#54 Offline AntsTopia - Posted October 14 2023 - 12:30 PM

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Also I forgot to add I put the mesh back when I did the emergency move I decided that it would be best. 

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Ants are just better.


#55 Offline ANTdrew - Posted October 14 2023 - 3:40 PM

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The same thing happens with big Crematogaster colonies. The queen gets covered up in a dogpile of workers, and you never see her again. The best days of any species are the first few months.
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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.

#56 Offline 100lols - Posted October 14 2023 - 5:02 PM

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Looking good, can’t wait to see how fast they grow. & Probably smart to get them in the fresh nest. Fair well queen!
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#57 Offline AntsTopia - Posted February 4 2024 - 7:26 PM

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Hello! The ants are surprisingly not dead! Keeping Leafcutter ants for 5 months is exceptionally hard. Especially when you are in the northern climate and no leaves or flowers are anywhere to be found. 1st I would like to say the Nicaragua paradise trip did not go to plan and I had to leave due to complications in the neighborhood. Yeah, that wasn't good. Anyway, going to head into the updates. I'm also going to commit to posting an update about these guys every Sunday night.

 

Soon after I left FC for a while, the fungus started to sprout and the worker size and quantity increased 10-fold. I'm happy to say that we got our first soldier and I don't think the size ends here according to several different entomology websites and Cheeto's YouTube videos about his colony. This is crazy because this soldier is huge! The shiny heads are also very satisfying and I can easily distinguish the workers from the soldiers in this way. Anyway, they were doing well until condensation started to form due to cold. This was bad since the fungus was starting to lean up against the glass. The fungus cannot touch water directly. So knowing this I should have just simply pushed the fungus so it wasn't leaning up against the glass. However, for some stupid reason, I moved them to my homemade leaf cutter ant setup.

 

The homemade nest I made is a bin with plaster with a tube sticking into it where I can add water. It was simple. The humidity was always high (95% to 99%). The move was great but after I moved them,  they didn't eat for 2 weeks. No matter what I gave them. After a humungous loss of fungus, I finally ordered a smart space heater for the room and set it to 78 F. I then moved them back to the pod. They immediately started cutting leaves, roses, oats, etc. 

 

*Present day 

Everything is going fine now except, I have no more things to give them. The roses that used to be in my neighborhood are wilted and dead. Same thing for the leaves. They turn their noses (antennas lol) up at oats so I am stuck. I can order organic roses but it's $85 which is kind of ridiculous so I'm left with one option. There is this plant store not so far from me that grows its own plants so I'm giving it a try. I bought a white-pink rose for $2 that the ants are used to eating. I know color doesn't matter; maybe the ants have opinions. I washed it thoroughly to hopefully get all the topical pesticides off the problem is the pesticides that grew with the rose. I gave them half of a petal and put the rest in a vase. So now I cross my fingers and hope it doesn't kill the fungus. 

 

Here are some pictures of them eating the rose. Remember, I'll be updating this journal next Sunday night!

 

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Edited by AntsTopia, February 4 2024 - 7:31 PM.

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#58 Offline BleepingBleepers - Posted February 4 2024 - 8:05 PM

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Very nice picture! Super interesting.

 

That sounds like the interesting situation of the leaf cutter ant keeper.

 

The idea of buying plants from a store and watching out for pesticide, I'd probably be way too paranoid to even attempt it especially with a rarer type of ant like Attas.

 

Anyhow, also wishing you the best of luck. Have always been interested in leafcutter ants, but don't have the space or time to keep'em so I'll admire the ones you guys keep.


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JOURNAL: Camponotus CA02 - First Time At Ant Keeping CLICK HERE

JOURNAL: Ectomomyrmex cf. astutus - Ant Species #2 CLICK HERE






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