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LC3's Myrmica specioides Journal [Jul/14/2020]

myrmica myrmica specioides invasive species facultatively polygynous experiments introducing queens impressive fire ant lc3s journal ant

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#1 Offline LC3 - Posted August 31 2017 - 4:43 PM

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Ok a little back story with Myrmica specioides in general. Myrmica specioides is an invasive species from Europe along with M. rubra, I'm not exactly sure when or where it was found in North America or how exactly but for Vancouver and the neighbouring municipalities they assigned a Dr. Rob Higgins to deal with the problem, mainly the more destructive Myrmica rubra.

I don't remember when M. rubra was first discovered but M. specioides was found here from specimens turning up in 2011. In 2013 Dr. Higgins found a way to discern them from native Myrmica and M. rubra; M. specioides had an abruptly bent scape. By 2014 a survey had been conducted and found Myrmica specioides at 38/40 municipalities here (Myrmica rubra only found in 3/40).  

Myrmica specioides was dubbed the impressive fire ant because of their abundance at YVR, which during their nuptial flights attracted a bunch of birds which ate the ants, and birds don't mix well with planes. By 2014 Myrmica specioides was a well recognized invasive ant, that is until the genetic testing they did, where they received mixed results, with some specimens keying to Myrmica scabrinodis, as of now they're ironing out the details and trying to figure out if they are indeed M. specioides or M. scabrinodis or both.* (Hence why I constantly use cf.) Anyways that's how the story here goes, M. specioides by now has been found in Washington state, Oregon and California. 

Myrmica specioides (left), Myrmica rubra (right)

 

 

*Note: Myrmica specioides and Myrmica scabrinodis are easily confused, it's very likely that certain specimens (Especially earlier specimens) of M. scabrinodis are M. specioides and vice versa. 

 

The M. specioides I have match pretty closely a M. specioides specimen from France. Whether it is actually from France I have no clue.

RRR

Specimen from Antweb

 

A few personal notes:

I've known this Myrmica species for quite a while, I believe since around 2008/2009 but only recently found out it was M. specioides. I noticed it after a mature colony was moving their nest in my backyard, the fact that it was a mature colony leads me to believe that M. specioides has been established here for a while. It's abundant in sub urban areas and grassy areas that, moisture does not seem to affect where it nests. It nests in soil and seems to prefer nesting under rocks. The architecture of the nest chambers resemble those of termite gallows, lacking clearly defined tunnels and chambers 

At some point I collected a portion of a larger colony that had two queens and put them in a small dirt setup, the nest was constructed with two layers: A top network of tunnels with no chambers, and a bottom network of tunnels with chambers, connected by a few tunnels. In the wild I've noticed that they constructed lots of tunnels but chambers or brood of any kind was rare unless it was underneath a heavy object that was firmly stuck in the dirt. I'm not sure if they employ the two layer type of building the captive colony did, although due to the fact that they like to nest in open grassy areas it's a possibility. Entrances are simply marked by a loose pile of dirt or an inconspicuous hole in the ground, because of their tendency to form a layout of shallow tunnels, nest entrances are constantly changing. 

(Sorry no photos of that colony :| )

 

Workers forage independently and do not trail, the radius seems to be around 5 meters, they do not trail but will recruit workers if needed, in some sort of tandem trail. Around 8 workers will leave in a trail to the designated area. They also prey on aphid alates.

Their main competitors here are Lasius alienus, which is one of the few species that thrives in suburban areas, the two species often nest in close proximity but avoid conflict. M. specioides main form of defence is physical barriers, where they will cover up their entrance or debris, one colony I found made a large wall in a chamber Lasius alienus has breached but also had a fair amount of workers on standby behind the wall of debris, the front row in particular was very cramped with workers lined up in a straight line, with heads facing towards the wall. M. specioides workers also release a mushroom smelling odor when disturbed and members of the colony relay the scent. So one worker makes this odor and the rest follow suit. I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of this odor is. If all else fails they will evacuate. The only times I've seen Myrmica specioides fight L. alienus was over root aphids on dandelions, workers will gather en masse around the nest entrances while columns of 8 or so workers will walk to the designated location. I have not personally witnessed a fight as most of the times the Lasius seem to be driven out quite quickly and mostly takes place underground. M. specioides readily picks fights with Tetramorium.

They tend to be very swarmy when provoked, but don't sting very easily. I've only ever got stung by these ants around 7 times during my lifetime. The stings aren't very painful either, it's like a small pinch but it does get very itchy. 

Nuptial flights take place from late August to mid September. It's quite common for colonies to gather alates but not fly, I've found quite a few wings shedded after these 'pseudoflights' near the nest entrance but I'm not sure if they're mating in the nest or what. In the case of a full flight, female and male alates will launch themselves into the air, and find mates while in the air and drop to the ground mating. Males mate by mounting on the back of the female while trying to stick their gaster from the side into the gaster of the female. I've noticed other males will attempt to attempt to pull other males mating with females with their small mandibles while trying to mate with the female. The females proceed to find somewhere to hibernate for the winter and will found colonies in the spring.  

 

 

Now onto everything else.

 

Anyways this colony also had a peculiar history. Basically I found a queen wandering about during the spring of 2015 I believe, I brood boosted it and kept it yada yada. She laid eggs multiple times but none ever developed into larvae, anyways during the fall of 2015 on September 15th I believe, M. specioides had a nuptial flight and I started a colony with 8 queens and some pupae. That didn't end up well either, the queens never settled down despite the workers and I ended up killing them in a really nooby mistake. Fast forward and it was the spring of the following year I found 3 queens roaming around. Remember the first queen? Turns out she was infertile and just disappeared one day. She had 8 or so workers and some male larvae by the time of her disappearance, I dumped the workers with the 3 queens and they started a colony, a really successful one actually, lots of eggs, at one point the egg pile decreased and I noticed one of the queens was picking fights with the others, who did not fight back. She ended up killing the other 2 queens single handedly. I think she ate her rivals' eggs but I have no proof. 

I was planning to start a journal after getting more alates from the 2016 Nuptial flight but I missed the flight. 

 

 

December 30th, 2016.

I don't remember when I exactly hibernated them. They definitely did, just not sure when, might have brought them out just for this photo, I don't know. :thinking:

 

May 3rd, 2017

 

 

June 20th, 2017

Myrmica specioides produces female alate brood with overwintered larvae (I think, I've found up to 90% of all the brood after they emerge from hibernation being female alate brood) and added them to my colony out of curiosity. Most of the larvae didn't eclose into female alate pupae but something like a worker with queen features, they were usually killed. I had one male from the brood but I killed it for reasons. Half of the alate brood just developed into slightly larger then average workers, these were not killed.

 

July 13th, 2017

I managed to introduce a dealate to the colony. Not a queen just a completely random dealate.

 

August 26th, 2017

The alates would occasionally help out with work or come out to feed by themselves. Although the wild ones do not do this, they sometimes help evacuate brood when the nest is disturbed.

 

(BestAttemptAtCloseup :P )

August 30th, 2017

As of now this colony is producing one alate larvae for whatever reason.  The dealates rarely ever go into the main tube housing the founding queen, but the alates do as they please. No idea why some chose to take off their wings while some didn't

 

 

dontyouhatemakingatopicandtheneditingitatonoftimesafterbecauseofbrokenlinksandgrammarmistakesorjustclarificationingeneral?


Edited by LC3, July 14 2020 - 6:17 PM.

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#2 Offline LC3 - Posted August 31 2017 - 4:46 PM

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Experiment things or something. I don't know, bring on the flame war or whatever.

 

Myrmica specioides is probably facultatively polygynous, the colonies here I assume keep around 1-5 queens and possibly a few fertile but non reproductive dealates. After nuptial flights and how I stated there's often a lot of wings by or in the nest entrance after a flight, occasionally I'll see a worker pick up a queen and bring her back to the nest, most instances of me finding queens in nests happen after a flight. It's pretty hard to find the queens, but during one event where the colony in my backyard evacuated due to it's Lasius neighbour, I counted 3 queens in the trail, a portion of the colony was still underground and holding off with another queen. Anecdotal evidence, and I've only ever found the queens of one or two colonies most of which did not have much characteristics of a queen (i.e enlarged gaster, constantly tended by workers etc), the phenomenon of alates constantly taking off their wings in my captive colony is most likely not done so in the wild.  On Antwiki the author of the M. specioides article has noted that the average colony contains a 1-2 queens while a few journals I've found usually end up with "started with multiple queens, now there's one". 

 

Still didn't stop me from attempting to introduce queens. Sometime during spring of 2016 or something I forgot the exact time frame. I started to run a few tests with a batch of 8 queens in total, or something. Most of the methods failed which usually included the conventional ant-keeping methods, like putting the colony in the fridge or introducing during hibernation, none of that worked. I got the an idea to split a small portion of the colony along with some brood if possible and introduce this queen to the smaller portion of the colony, the workers were originally pretty pissed but just like the worker introduction that got this colony started they slowly mellowed down, over time I introduced more workers from the parent colony to the small split of portion to retain colony scent.

 

It worked. To some extent. The queen prior to this had quite a few injuries from the failed attempts and died shortly later, by this point the workers completely stopped attacking her, they would occasionally drag her away from the main queen but no harm done. 

 

During this summer I collected some female and male alates along with workers for keying purposes, for some reason a few queens shedded their wings but it's unlikely it has anything to do with the males. (Note: Myrmica and a few other Myrmecines like Leptothorax seem to have a hard time shedding their wings but tend to do it much more readily, not sure why just personal observations) I managed to, using the same method listed above to introduce one dealate and get her accepted into the colony, for control I took another and just let her roam the outworld. Spoiler she died.

Yay

 

Now currently I have a lot of alates both male and female, most of the females I presume are mated, as they either shed their wings after being caught or shedded their wings after half of the males died for no reason. s e x

 

The ratio of males to females is roughly 2:3, the  ratio of dead to live males is roughly 1:1, the ratio of dead females to dead males is roughly 1:2

 

I have randomly selected 4 queens, and put two in one tube and one in two other tubes. along with some workers and brood.

Myrmica specioides queens are pretty tough, it usually takes quite a bit for the ants to rip limbs off, M. specioides queens don't fight back when in face of workers which is quite odd.

 

I have done this two times at least with both of them a success more or less, I'm still not confident it will work out. Anyways it takes a bit of time for the workers to calm down, the younger the better but most of the young workers are pretty hard to get (as they either hide, run away or get crushed because of their soft exoskeleton). 

 

Then of course I have no clue how the queens will react with the established queen once introduction is successful.

All I can do now is hope for the best really.

 

[04/09/2017]

 

Another point of interest about these ants is their interaction between Lasius alienus, their main competitor. As stated Myrmica specioides often nests extremely close to Lasius alienus, all while avoiding conflict or interaction with them. Actually even when encountering Lasius alienus they pretend they do not exist.

M. specioides displays this odd curling behaviour when encountering Lasius alienus, both wild workers and captive workers display this behaviour. I'm not sure why, it seems rather counterproductive as Lasius have rather thin exoskeletons and M. specioides are equipped with a sting that can surely puncture it, if not even running away would probably more effective. usually the Lasius will ignore them after a while, (when not in close proximity to their nest and provided there aren't a bunch around of course) but they will usually hold this position for as long as a couple of minutes up to half an hour.

 

They don't do this in the face of other ants, Tetramorium is readily killed (the ants will pluck foraging workers from the ground and chew them to death), Camponotus is rarely encountered by these ants but I doubt they can do much against 20mm major workers. I've introduced another Lasius sp., L. umbratus. M. specioides curled instinctively when prodded by L.umbratus' antennae but eventually attacked them when they encountered each other, probably because they realized they weren't L. alienus.

 

One hypothesis I have for this kind of behaviour is that L.alienus is a rather aggressive species and capable of recruiting en masse, and highly territorial, in response this pretendImnothere behaviour might be more efficient then trying to flee, another hypothesis is that it's more effective in groups, Lasius tactics usually involve overwhelming the enemy and splitting them up individually, if the Myrmica tucker up in a group then the less likely they are to get separated and killed. During the time I that those above pictures were taken, the Myrmica did gather in a group, those in the group were less likely to be attacked while those on their own were usually ganged up on by 2-4 workers, eventually the Lasius let them be for a while only to resume attacking except this time they mostly concentrated on pulling workers around the edge of the group out of the group. At that point I took the Myrmica workers out.

 

It's even possible that M. specioides does this in fights, simply put they beat their enemy by just sitting there and taking up space, although the evidence suggests otherwise, when M. specioides wants to fight it fights like a normal ant. So far I've done around 5 tests with introducing wild workers (around 15 for the first 2 tests, 25 for the 3rd and 30th for 4th and 5th at a time) in the outworld. In the first 2 tests the colony just barricaded the entrance of their nest, the Lasius did not manage to get in because workers crammed themselves into the entrance, effectively blocking it with their heads, the 3rd was the same until I removed the plug and a Lasius got into the nest, at that point the ants swarmed and promptly killed all remaining workers.  The swarming was rather odd as instead of a haphazard mess where the ants usually run in circles, this time the swarm was more like a stream, with the front row of older workers spearheading it and eagle spreading any Lasius near the entrance the callows, younger workers and alates all grabbed brood and ran towards the corners and climbed the walls. By this point any older worker not killing Lasius was evacuating the remaining brood, when all brood was evacuated  older workers previously fighting the Lasius formed a defensive perimeter on the ground around the mass of workers hanging on the walls. Lasius in the nest also tried to take brood and ignored the workers. I have one hour footage of them doing nothing when the plug was removed, after an hour of nothing happening all of the above mentioned happened, I didn't end up recording it for some reason, either ran out of battery or I was in awe at the event.

 

Both 4th and 5th tests were the same, Myrmica attacked any Lasius on sight and swarmed. I stopped running more tests as it seems like the population either got too large for a passive response or the captive conditions of the colony might have altered it to become more aggressive. 


Edited by LC3, September 5 2017 - 9:23 AM.

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#3 Offline T.C. - Posted August 31 2017 - 5:30 PM

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First post on this thread... already an Impressive journal.

Edited by T.C., August 31 2017 - 5:31 PM.


#4 Offline LC3 - Posted September 5 2017 - 8:58 AM

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[Sept/05/2017]

 

The workers in the tubes were much too old for the experiment, not to mention I didn't follow certain procedures I did the last few times, such as using mostly if not only young workers (callows - light orange). Unsurprisingly the two queens in the tubes mostly consisting of older foraging workers were killed. The previous attempts also utilized a much larger population of the colony with the first time being 1/3rd and the second time nearly 1/2 of the population. Also letting the workers sit queenless for a couple of days before introducing queens.

 

So I ended up taking the two dying queens out, replacing them with two new queens, taking out all the older workers and putting the remainder in a tube that consisted of all the colony's younger workers, roughly 1/3rd of the population. I didn't consistently introduced older workers to the tubes either and ended up introducing too many at once, as a result two of the queen's lost one of their legs, while one escaped which I accidentally killed. I discarded one of the queens with a missing leg and kept the other, due to its swollen gaster, it's the only queen out of all of them with such a swollen gaster and I'm kind of interested to see how it would end up. I introduced 2 more queens and have a total of 4 still, anyways what about the last queen that wasn't affected? well it seems like she has been accepted by her fellow workers but not the colony, the other 3 queens are still being pestered occasionally. This colony fragment is developing a scent much faster then I expected up to the point where the majority of the workers will be attacked when reintroduced, however such hostilities are usually very brief and die down within at least a few minutes.

 

I'm technically now on square one again, just a minor setback. It seems like the main colony has stopped producing or growing their larvae while all remaining larvae have pupated, I think they are trying to pull off one more generation before hibernation. I will continue to add more callows and workers as they eclose and by hibernation hopefully all of the callows are transferred with the 4 queens. As for the remaining workers, I will slowly introduce them one by one during hibernation until half of the colony's population is transferred. I'm not sure what I'll do after that point, I'm thinking that it will probably have to connect both tubes and let them slowly merge for the rest of hibernation.

 

Pictures will be posted later once things calm down a bit.

 

Meanwhile I have around something like 13 or so dealates to spare. I'm not sure what to do with these yet.


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#5 Offline LC3 - Posted September 10 2017 - 5:05 PM

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[Sept/08/2017]

 

Two queens have been accepted, the rest seem to have been rejected. Out of the two the larger gaster queen has laid 4 eggs, the other queen, I'm not exactly sure, doesn't seem like she's laying any eggs. I'm not exactly sure why this queen with the swollen gaster A) has such a swollen gaster for a Myrmica alate and B ) is laying eggs before making through the spring. I guess the introduction of workers prompted her to found a colony.

 

eGgs

I'll call this colony as Secondary colony.

 

They were getting way to swarmy whenever I tried to introduce a worker so I put them in a container with a fragment of the colony nesting in another tube.

Minimal worker aggressions, a few joined the one in the other tube, workers from the fragment colony that wandered into the secondary colony ignored workers but attacked the queen. 

 

On a particularly hot day due to the wildfires and the smoke, the alates and the wet paper in there dried up and they all died. :|

 

[Sept/09/2017]

 

Reopened the Secondary colony is in the container leaving the Colony fragment in. Proceeded to separate workers that were attacking the queen. The others were left to stay. I'll resume introducing workers one by one until the last of the pupae eclose.

 

None of the queens I have in the tubes have laid eggs yet, I think I'll dump them in the fridge for next spring.

 

[Sept/09/2017]

 

Workers swarming Pemphigus spp. (probably ​Pemphigus cf. spyrothecae) gall. 

 

Worker plucking aphid from gall

 

These galls are at least a week old, the container they were in was full of dead aphids, in many of these galls large droplets of goop could be found, apparently the soldiers of some Poplar gall forming aphids (Like Pemphigus spyrothecae) are incharge of discarding excess honeydew, which they ball up in a thin wax coating and throw out of the nest. For some reason however the droplets weren't tossed and ended up accumulating in the galls. 

 

I attempted to take on out (A rather large one occupying a small gall, roughly 5mm in diameter) ended up like this:

It explooded.

 

[Sept/10/2017]

 

Introduced more workers, more eggs have been laid. It seems like they've rejected the second queen. I guess this makes the other queen as their true queen.

 

Most of the larvae from the Primary colony have started pupating.

 

More eggs laid by queen in Secondary colony.

 

Queen wandering about is the other queen from the secondary colony. Workers don't seem to care about her but will drag her out from the tube and keep dragging her around for a bit. 

 

When I was at the place where I collected these galls, and the same place I found that old dead Myrmica alate, one colony was shuffling alates around.

 

Most intricate entrance I've ever seen Myrmica specioides build, actually one of the most intricate builds I've seen out of all the ants here. A lot more sophisticated then a loose pile of dirt or a half open hole in the ground that's for sure. Only topped off by those of Lasius umbratus (fungal matrix) and M. incompleta (Raised mounds of soil laced with grass acting as incubators or tunnels to wood). No idea why they would build such a thing though.


Edited by LC3, September 10 2017 - 5:12 PM.

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#6 Offline LC3 - Posted September 25 2017 - 5:39 PM

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[Sep/25/2017]

 

Queen in secondary colony died. Doesn't seem like workers killed her, can't say I'm surprised as queens with a missing limb nearly never make it in my experience.

 

Starting from square one will be a bit difficult this time since most of the younger workers have aged, to complicate matters after a period of wrapping it up the queen decided she wanted to gattling gun eggs or something and has laid the most eggs I've ever seen her lay in one sitting.


Edited by LC3, September 25 2017 - 5:40 PM.


#7 Offline T.C. - Posted September 26 2017 - 8:51 AM

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I'm regretting not keeping the 20 myrmica queens I caught this year. :facepalm:



#8 Offline LC3 - Posted March 5 2018 - 6:08 PM

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[Mar/05/2018]

 

Threw these queens into hibernation at some point in October I think. The queen I introduced after the death of the prior queen didn't make it. They did fine during hibernation but a large portion of the workers along with the introduced queen died. Roughly 1/4th of the workers died, it seems like they got stuck in the paper plug or the cotton they tore out and ended up drying out. After hibernation a bunch of other workers also died and it ended up being around or a bit more than 1/3rd of the colony. :|

 

The queen however is laying like crazy. The only thing holding them back is probably the lack of heat for the brood to develop.

 

I'll stop introducing this queens to this colony. Any more attempts probably won't be as elaborate as the methods I've tried above.

 

January 1st. Some of the dead workers

 

 

February 26th.

 

​February 26th Larvae. Most of the brood was kept in the smaller tube though, as shown in the pics above.

 

February 26th. This queen must be pretty proud that after a couple of dozen attempts she is the sole ruler of this colony.

 

Out of all the Myrmica queens I caught last year a dozen queens remained. I put all of them in a tube with substrate to see if I can get a colony started out of multiple queens. I was more confident this time since these queens are all from the same colony. About a week or two later and two queens already lost a limb. They were also very panicky, like Formica for whatever reason. 

 

​February 28th.

For these ants if they are this willing to abandon a nest they don't like it. So I made another setup which I filled with dirt and three tubes. This dirt was pretty old and came from the setup from my now dead M. incompleta. For some reason it's clumped up in little pellets, damp but no where stable for tunneling. 

February 28th. Tubes A,B,C

 

March 5th.

Yesterday when I checked the setup I found out that the queens in the middle tube laid 5 eggs :D . Nearly all the queens have swollen gasters at this point. The tube to the right has the queens sort of divided and the last tube has too much dirt to see anything. Also there's a worker in there I accidentally introduced before putting them into hibernation. Was a younger worker so no aggression and I didn't notice it. She doesn't discriminate between queens :) .

 

Here are the stats:

Initial founding (February 28th)  

A Queens | 3 Queens | B Queens

 

Following day (March 1st):

C Queens | 0 Queens | D Queens

 +worker

 

Altered on March 3rd

C Queens | +1 Queen | D-1 Queens

 worker

Moved a queen from tube C to tube B since the two never stopped fighting

 

March 4th:

6 Queens | 4 Queens | 2 Queens

-worker    |  +worker

                    +eggs

March 5th:

5 Queens | 5 Queens | 2 Queens

                  -worker     | + worker

                    eggs


Edited by LC3, March 5 2018 - 6:12 PM.

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#9 Offline LC3 - Posted March 29 2018 - 1:59 PM

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[Mar/29/2018]

 

Colony:

Nothing to report on the colony much, despite the amount of brood they are producing I doubt they would grow much more unless I provide some form of heating. Also for some reason they've started producing in abundance abnormally large workers (5mm) and smaller workers <4mm. Granted these are in the range of worker sizes of this species but I find it odd that they're producing nanitic sized workers and workers you would find in a really healthy mature colony instead of just uniform. It most likely has to do with heating. Other then that they're still active and eating everything.

 

They also just all gang up on a worker every once or two weeks and rip it apart. No idea why. 

 

Queens:

Each tube has at least 20 eggs at this point. Started off as 12 queens and a worker and has dropped to 11 queens and no worker. One queen was picking fights with everyone and after one of the queens died I haven't witnessed any more fights. So that's good I suppose.

 

https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing

^sheet I've been using to keep track of data.

 

I also found another queen presumably foraging near an M. incompleta nest. Not sure what to do with it. I don't think M. specioides will ever colonize the dyke due to the fact it's a wetland and the ecological niche being occupied by another supercolonial Myrmica species.


Edited by LC3, March 29 2018 - 2:00 PM.


#10 Offline LC3 - Posted June 3 2018 - 1:56 PM

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[June/03/2018]

I dug out the queens from the test tubes they were in. Found a correlation between number of queens and brood development.

Tube A (4 queens): 1 worker, 5 small/tiny larvae
Tube B (5 queens): none
Tube C (1 queen): 1 worker, 4 small larvae, 2 medium larva.

They were kept in the same container and provided the same access to the same food, so from this way too small sample it seems that the number of queens correlates with how successful they will be in rearing their first batch of brood. Also interestingly the independent queen has the distended gaster characteristic similar to queens found in mature colonies or queens that start engaging in egg laying while non of the other queens in the other tubes do. In the tubes with multiple queens none of the queens are showing any signs of aggression or submission towards each other, but It's worth noting these came from the same colony and all mated with males from said colony.

If this is true then if this experiment was attempted again on a larger scale, all tubes with more then 4 queens will likely fail, tubes with 1 queen will develop normally. Fighting would be settled out during the first half and cease when larvae start to appear. (At least for queens who are closely related)
Other then that I don't think any of the other statistics are isolated enough to make a prediction.

I guess the next step is to see whether the queens stay together during the next phases of colony growth or if this is just pleometrosis. I've boosted Tube B with 4 workers, 2 pupae, 2 pupating larvae, and 7 larvae of various stages of development.

Tube A

Tube B

Tube C


Edited by LC3, June 3 2018 - 10:30 PM.

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#11 Offline AntsBC - Posted June 3 2018 - 2:53 PM

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Cool! Just a few days ago I found two queens of these guys and i mixed them together. They seem to have been getting along so far but i have observed a dominance trait in one of the queens, which could be a bad thing when workers arrive. i find where I live in BC formica pacifica really dominates the ant spectrum but if you look a little closer in gardens or grass these guys are present as well, they are just quieter about it. I found a colony of these guys (M. specioides) in a flowerpot, but sadly my parents didn't allow me to dig them up as they pulled out the antkiller instead.

 

(Edit: I actually had falsely identified them, they are actually Myrmica Incompleta)


Edited by AntsBC, June 15 2018 - 8:04 PM.

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#12 Offline LC3 - Posted June 4 2018 - 7:56 PM

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Cool! Just a few days ago I found two queens of these guys and i mixed them together. They seem to have been getting along so far but i have observed a dominance trait in one of the queens, which could be a bad thing when workers arrive. i find where I live in BC formica pacifica really dominates the ant spectrum but if you look a little closer in gardens or grass these guys are present as well, they are just quieter about it. I found a colony of these guys (M. specioides) in a flowerpot, but sadly my parents didn't allow me to dig them up as they pulled out the antkiller instead. 

 

Yeah these guys seem to only be found in grasslands, fields, or urban areas, it hasn't been noticed outside of those places if I recall. Foraging is limited to a few meters and they don't nest very deep. I've found the queen of a colony once around 15 or so cm underground in plain dirt.

 

Chances are the submissive queen will be driven out or slowly dismembered by the other queen either during their stay together or when they get workers. Young workers (yellow - lighter orange) don't seem to care which queen they're serving. I have no idea if the workers will continue to serve both queens if one doesn't die from the other.



#13 Offline LC3 - Posted July 14 2020 - 6:16 PM

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[Jul/14/2020]

 

I am not entirely sure what happened to the queens above. I think they ended up doing the typical routine of kicking out queens until one remained which at that point I got rid of them. The large colony I had ended up dying as I accidentally let them run out of water. At this point I don't own any ant colonies prior to 2019, and to be honest I can't recall what happened to most of them. Presumably dead of neglect. As of recent I can't bring myself to rear more of these queens as I have somewhat grown tired of keeping this species.

 

Earlier this year, I was able to obtain a Myrmica queen from AntsBC's neighborhood, which by the way they outnumbered the workers 2:1. I took 2 queens, one of which died and the other currently has pupae. It turns out that the species there is in fact also M. specioides however the ones there were by far more variable in colour. I have reason to believe that by this point M. specioides may have spread all the way to Hope, BC, which is (based on an iNaturalist observation) a 1.5 - 2 hour drive from Richmond. Another thing that has become apparent to me is that the queens of this species are more resilient than other Myrmica species which may be the reason why they have managed to spread so far. 

 

gallery_421_1840_620425.jpg

A lighter coloured M. specioides specimen, found in early July of this year, Vancouver. 

 


The queen caught in AntsBC's area.

 

I am unsure if want to raise more M. specioides colonies but I suppose this particular queen represents an opportunity to see whether the population there also exhibits the tucker down behavior towards Lasius americanus as the latter are practically absent from that area. This species does not interact with Formica as far as I've observed currently.
 


Edited by LC3, July 15 2020 - 12:54 AM.


#14 Offline wallaby - Posted December 1 2021 - 10:11 PM

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this is making me really excited for the next anting season. lsat year all my myrmica queens escaped under a shelf so I had to sadly spray Clorox in there.. I find your experiment to be really cool because they are normally monogynous I think. è


I'm trying not to revive old threads


#15 Offline Antkeeper01 - Posted December 2 2021 - 5:56 AM

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Stop reviving old threads


1X Pogonomyrmex occidentalis 40-50 Workers

1X Solenopsis molesta 10 Workers (mono)

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: myrmica, myrmica specioides, invasive species, facultatively polygynous, experiments, introducing queens, impressive fire ant, lc3s journal, ant

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