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solenopsis invicta solenopsis invicta build journal log

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#1 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted September 27 2016 - 12:32 PM

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Hello all! I'm new to these forums and just wanted to have another forum to follow as I get into the world of ants! I'm from Midland, Tx. I'm a 25 year old male. I have a ton of hobbies that I do, including RC truck racing, poker, and PC gaming. I am a huge animal lover. I have had pretty much every pet you can imagine, and even some you couldn't..

 

So, how about odd story time? I've always had a fear of ants, to be honest. They still are the only thing in the world I am afraid of. I can go out and catch wild scorpions, snakes, and tarantulas with no problem.. But when I see an ant hill, I get a sick feeling in my stomach and start shaking almost instantly. I'm not sure why, maybe I had some weird experience as a kid. However, I do understand how intelligent they are and maybe that's what really sets me over the edge. Their hive mentality is just too unreal. So, I've always thought, in a bit of irony, it would be cool to keep an ant hill as like a center piece in my house. See it as over-coming a fear or something.. Plus, they do look amazing. I've also thought about getting those aluminum casts of ant hills for a neat decoration.

 

Anyways, join me on my journey and maybe we can become good friends!

 

I have managed to find a Solenopsis Invicta queen even though it's pretty late in the year! Also, weird enough, I got pretty lucky because we just hit a huge cold spell here in Texas. About 60 F all week. I'm from Ohio, so I get that that's not cold for most of the world but, it's cold for here. We've been above 95 every day since like, March. Haha. Meet my first lovely queen. Her name is Bellona because she's actually been through a battle (also because Bellona in the game Smite is always screaming ROMA INVICTA lol). She has an ant head attached to her leg via bite.. Others say that this should not harm her too bad.. We'll just have to see. I'm keeping her in a really warm closet with hopes to trick her into laying eggs instead of waiting until spring.. =S

 

0923162016c_1.jpg

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Here is everything I have bought so far. Tubing and Kritter Keeper is on the way in the mail. Insect-a-slip, heat cable, and the decorations for the outworld will be purchased this weekend.

I bought two of the tackle box (umbrella rig storage)

The reason I went for these is because they had 3 very long, separated chambers, which will work nicely with my idea. I plan on attaching them together with 4 very short tubes, to almost make one large formicarium. However, I will put the water chamber on opposite corners of both. I will then put the heat cable along one side on both of them. This will give them the perfect gradient from dry warm, to dry cool, to wet warm, to wet cool. So they can choose where they want to hold their eggs and such.

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Here is the acrylic sheet after I cut it.. Yes, I did horrible cuts. Apparently I couldn't score it deep enough so some breaks didn't come out clean. The 2 pieces on the left are the ones I'm going to actually use over the formicarium. The left pieces will be used to cover the water area so, they don't need to be perfect. They will just be taped town so I can remove them to easily access the water chambers.

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Time to start drilling holes in everything to give them access, obviously. Took me awhile to get a nice process down but, found a good way to hold the pieces and drill... (don't laugh, I don't have a table to drill on..)

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After drilling final holes:
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After cleaning up holes with exacto knife:
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Here you can see where I drilled smaller pilot holes first, then opened them up. You can also see where my idea is coming together well. Note, I will be filling the extra spaces in with the play sand I have so they can work out their own rooms as well as feel more naturalistic:
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Starting to drill holes for the short tubes between the boxes as well as the holes in the walls:
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All pilot holes complete. I am waiting to get my tubing before I finish drilling (just to make sure I have a good fit):
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Time to start cleaning up for the night... Haha...
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I also started to practice drilling holes in acrylic. I used olive oil and started with a super small bit and worked my way up. Every bit went okay until I hit my 1/2" bit. It kept grabbing and breaking the glass.. I have decided to just skip the head ache and get a 1/2" glass bit to make everything easier. I'm sure I'm going to be needing it for future projects, anyways..
0926162027.jpg


Anyways, that's all so far, hope you all are enjoying and excited to see what else I have planned out!

Thanks for following!



#2 Offline sgheaton - Posted September 27 2016 - 1:01 PM

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I used the "bead organizer boxes" as my founding chambers this year as they were laying around not being used. I liked them personally. Simply drilled in passage doorways and its done! I was going to keep multiple (of the same species) in the different compartments but realized if I had trouble with one, they were all along for the ride being as they were all in the same container. One thing I didn't like was it was only an inch high. It's all possible and there already -- looks like you're well on your way!


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#3 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted September 27 2016 - 1:04 PM

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I used the "bead organizer boxes" as my founding chambers this year as they were laying around not being used. I liked them personally. Simply drilled in passage doorways and its done! I was going to keep multiple (of the same species) in the different compartments but realized if I had trouble with one, they were all along for the ride being as they were all in the same container. One thing I didn't like was it was only an inch high. It's all possible and there already -- looks like you're well on your way!

 

Thanks for the reply and the help! Knowing that yours did well makes me feel better about this project. I do plan to upgrade to a nice formicarium in the future but for now, this should do more than fine. I'm starting out with Solenopsis Invicta which aren't that big as individuals so, I think the size should be okay.. until the colony gets bigger, of course!



#4 Offline Goldsystem - Posted September 28 2016 - 9:17 AM

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Good luck, that bead box may be kinda big for a new colony but fire ants grow very rapidly so they will fill it up eventually. :)

#5 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted September 28 2016 - 9:33 AM

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Good luck, that bead box may be kinda big for a new colony but fire ants grow very rapidly so they will fill it up eventually. :)

 

Yeah, hopefully! Haha. But I will be filling the formicarium with play sand in most of rooms starting out, so the colony can have fun cleaning it out while they grow!



#6 Offline drtrmiller - Posted September 28 2016 - 2:50 PM

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Play sand is essentially tiny glass rocks. Water drains right to the bottom and it has almost no water retention, which is why you mainly only see desert-dwelling species constructing nests in soils with sandy composition. Without some clay or another material to provide some rigidity and impact strength, any tunnels or structures the ants manage to create will collapse very easily, even just with a change in moisture.

Besides that, those ants will conceal themselves very well if provided any substrate. It's very difficult for beginners to respond to problem conditions when the ants are difficult to observe both inside and outside the nest.
  • CaptainRedBeardd likes this
 
byFormica® is the manufacturer of the iconic nectar feeders and Sunburst Ant Nectar.
byFormica ant products always deliver consistent performance, convenience,
and reliability, making them among the most beloved ant foods and kit enjoyed by
ant keeping enthusiasts worldwide. For more information, visit www.byFormica.com.

#7 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted September 28 2016 - 2:58 PM

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Play sand is essentially tiny glass rocks. Water drains right to the bottom and it has almost no water retention, which is why you mainly only see desert-dwelling species constructing nests in soils with sandy composition. Without some clay or another material to provide some rigidity and impact strength, any tunnels or structures the ants manage to create will collapse very easily, even just with a change in moisture.

Besides that, those ants will conceal themselves very well if provided any substrate. It's very difficult for beginners to respond to problem conditions when the ants are difficult to observe both inside and outside the nest.

 

Okay so, should I not use any digging medium at all? I wasn't going to place enough for them to dig tunnels.. I mean, the formicarium will only be like an inch tall total. Should I leave it bare? Or just like, a light coat on bottom for texture?



#8 Offline drtrmiller - Posted September 28 2016 - 3:19 PM

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I would use some type of gypsum cement or grout about 1/4 inch thick (6 mm), and adhere sand on top of that while the material is still wet, before it has cured. Then after curing, wash the excess off. This will provide an absorbent surface to prevent drowning, and will even give the ants a small amount of particles to move around, but probably not enough to obstruct your view.

Edited by drtrmiller, September 28 2016 - 5:17 PM.

 
byFormica® is the manufacturer of the iconic nectar feeders and Sunburst Ant Nectar.
byFormica ant products always deliver consistent performance, convenience,
and reliability, making them among the most beloved ant foods and kit enjoyed by
ant keeping enthusiasts worldwide. For more information, visit www.byFormica.com.

#9 Offline Batspiderfish - Posted September 28 2016 - 3:59 PM

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I would use some type of gypsum cement or grout about 1/4 inch thick (6 mm), and adhere sand on top of that while the material is still wet, before it has cured. Then after curing, wash the excess off. This will provide an absorbent surface to prevent drowning, and will even give the ants a small amount of particles to move around, but probably not enough to obstruct your view.

It's really surprising to have seen a couple members from Ohio with S. invicta over the past year or two. I wonder how they got there, and how long they've been established?

 

They found the queen in Texas, they are just originally from Ohio. ;)


If you've enjoyed using my expertise and identifications, please do not create undue ecological risk by releasing your ants. The environment which we keep our pet insects is alien and oftentimes unsanitary, so ensure that wild populations stay safe by giving your ants the best care you can manage for the rest of their lives, as we must do with any other pet.

 

Exotic ants are for those who think that vibrant diversity is something you need to pay money to see. It is illegal to transport live ants across state lines.

 

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Black lives still matter.


#10 Offline drtrmiller - Posted September 28 2016 - 5:17 PM

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I misread something. My mistake.
 
byFormica® is the manufacturer of the iconic nectar feeders and Sunburst Ant Nectar.
byFormica ant products always deliver consistent performance, convenience,
and reliability, making them among the most beloved ant foods and kit enjoyed by
ant keeping enthusiasts worldwide. For more information, visit www.byFormica.com.

#11 Offline Chandlerk - Posted September 28 2016 - 5:29 PM

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S. Invicta grows really fast. Apparently its not a great starter ant. Either way have a couple out worlds made.

#12 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted September 30 2016 - 7:00 AM

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S. Invicta grows really fast. Apparently its not a great starter ant. Either way have a couple out worlds made.

 

Yeah, I've heard. =S Unfortunately, after a full week in the dark, my queen isn't laying anything, even in a warm closet. So, I'm thinking she may not be mated.. =S I'm still gonna hold on to her as long as I can to see what happens. I will always be hopeful!

 

I have plenty of supplies for more outworlds, would just need to buy more Kritter Keepers for 15 bucks. I have a large bag of sand, large box of grout, 100 feet of tubing, and tons of aquarium rocks. I will be buying mesh tonight after work so mass producing outworlds will be fun! haha.



#13 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted October 1 2016 - 7:13 PM

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Hello all! Did some shopping today and worked on the outworld and Formicarium a bit!
 
Found some sexy vinyl tubing online. 100 feet for like, 10 bucks. Can't beat it!
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The extra stuff I bought. Heat pad for the formicarium, moss, rocks, and plants for the outworld. I also bought a little rock dish just to make feeding a little cleaner...hopefully? haha.
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Decided to go ahead and just buy an actual acrylic cutter instead of using a razor blade...
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And it turned out perfect! Very clean cuts!
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I also perfected drilling holes in acrylic without a glass bit.. FYI, don't listen to the forums of cutting acrylic.. Starting with a small size and slowly working up actually made it worse. It's a long explanation but, when you get to the bigger bits, it actually just grabs instead of drilling out properly. Use the size you need, some oil, and go slow. Also, make sure what you are cutting is secure. I locked my outworld between some 4x4s so it wouldn't spin or move.
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UNF.
 
Finished drilling the holes in the formicarium to the correct size.
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I'm also experimenting with some digging medium.. Took my play sand, and mixed it with some grout and water (just a little bit). Hopefully it will make it a little thicker so that the pieces of sand aren't so small and incredibly hard to move around for them..haha. We'll let it dry and see... I may just leave out digging medium..we'll see.
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OUTWORLD TIME! I start by putting in the tubing I want to have leading to the formicarium:
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Lay everything out so it's an easy build:
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Finished up and just waiting for it to dry. My tube spot turned out pretty perfect, I think. Also, I have a lot of excess sand that I will dump out after it all dries. I pushed everything down so it should stay pretty well. And yeah, the plants aren't that great.. they were all I could find at dollar tree -.- Lol. It's all good, I'm sure I'll build another outworld in the future and it will have a sick setting.. ;D
 
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Thanks for following! I will finish up the formicarium when I figure out if I want to put a digging medium or not!


#14 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted October 5 2016 - 3:42 PM

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Finished up the formicarium! It all is looking fantastic.. just gotta get a colony going, now.. :P
 
Here is the Outworld after I dumped out the extra sand. It looks pretty sexy for having cheap decorations.. :P
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I attached the short tubes to the main formicarium with silocone. I didn't attach the second one because it will only be connected when the main colony grows (or I will use it for a second colony).
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Got a good connection between the tubes and the formicarium, so I pulled the extra formicarium off. I dumped just a little bit of digging medium into the back chambers to allow the ants to dig it out as they grow. This is just sand mixed with a LITTLE bit of grout to get rid of some of the smaller pieces. The large pieces in here aren't near as large as they really are..haha. (Objects in mirror are larger than they appear? lol)
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Attached the acrylic to the formicarium with silicone.
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Then put extra silicone around the outside for some extra protection..
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Added weight to insure a great seal..
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Then, added a hinged lid for the area that I will water =D
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Rubber bands for extra hold and the final set up:
 
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I am very happy with the final results, thank you all for following!
 
My Insect-A-Slip comes in the mail Friday, then I may add a few test workers to the outworld to make sure they can't escape.
 
Can't wait until I catch me a good queen or the queen I do have lays eggs.. >.< Hopefully she's not waiting until spring but, it seems that's the way it will be....


#15 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 5 2016 - 6:43 PM

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Loving all the pictures. I'm glad someone knows how to post them on a forum. :P

 

BTW, drilling holes in acrylic couldn't be simpler if you use the proper bit.

 

245cebcb-5598-4d2a-9f54-81c6ac3b743a_1.9



#16 Offline CaptainRedBeardd - Posted October 5 2016 - 7:00 PM

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Loving all the pictures. I'm glad someone knows how to post them on a forum. :P

 

BTW, drilling holes in acrylic couldn't be simpler if you use the proper bit.

 

245cebcb-5598-4d2a-9f54-81c6ac3b743a_1.9

 

I didn't even need to use a bit like that. Just a regular drill bit, patience, and some cutting oil worked wonders! =)







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