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When to take ants out of hibernation?

hibernation

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#1 Offline Ender Ants - Posted January 15 2018 - 4:55 PM

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One of my ant colonies, Lasius niger, was put into a wine fridge at 54 degrees fahrenheit in November. As of now, January 15, I noticed about 5-7 workers in the foraging area. This is the normal number of workers in the foraging area before they were put into hibernation. Does this mean that they are ready to be taken out? Or do they need water? I've been refilling their water tower for the past few weeks, and about 1-2 workers came to drink, and go back down. 

 

I know that ants  "run on their own biological clock" which tells them when to wake up. But the temperatures here are in the high 50s, to low 40s. 


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#2 Offline T.C. - Posted January 15 2018 - 5:22 PM

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I always recommend a full 3 months! The results of a colony that hasn't been hibernated long enough generally are very slow and unproductive throughout the anting season.

Edited by T.C., January 15 2018 - 5:22 PM.

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#3 Offline Skwiggledork - Posted January 15 2018 - 5:23 PM

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I don't know the weather for TrES-2b, but I've heard that 3-4 months is the minimum for places like me at good ol' ~42oN latitude. lol


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#4 Offline Karma - Posted January 15 2018 - 5:52 PM

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You are definitely correct about ants being on their own biological clock, however from research and reading about other ant keepers experiments, you can also control when they hibernate. This is not for all ants though, some will hibernate regardless of what you do as far as heating them or cooling them, and some will rely on you to be their biological clock and will not hibernate until properly cooled. 

 

I can think of a few reasons as to why your ants may be foraging. It could be that they are hungry and are simply just looking for food, which has the possibility of them being in hibernation or not, because again I have seen ants in hibernation forage and accept food and ants that don't. I personally try and feed my ants at least once a month during hibernation just in case. This also keeps the colony healthy and virtually none of your ants die over the hibernation period from starvation and will only die from old age. I would recommend trying to feed them something just to be safe, such as a drop of honey or an insect. 

 

Two other possibilities would be that they are not at a low enough temperature, for most species that hibernate I recommend a temp of 37F to 47F. That should be low enough. Whatever specific temperature they are at may be too high resulting in them believing hibernation is over, or that may just be their decision in that they've had enough hibernation time which would be perfectly fine.

 

I'm sorry that this was very vague and may not be very helpful, but there is still much we have to learn and discover about ants and their behaviour. All in all, I wouldn't worry too much about this, you should probably just offer some food and continue trying to hibernate them until spring even if they are active and foraging however it is up to you. Just know that for most ants a healthy hibernation period is 3 to 5 months. This year for myself, I started hibernating my ants at the start of October (even though temperatures hadn't dropped yet and most ants were still active outside) and then just brought them out last week (giving them about 3 and a half months of hibernation) and temps are still freezing outside and it is still snowing and they seem to have been doing just fine and a few have already begun laying eggs again. 

 

I hope this helped and everything works out with your ants.


Edited by Karma, January 15 2018 - 5:56 PM.

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#5 Offline noebl1 - Posted January 16 2018 - 5:27 AM

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I've got a wine chiller I use for hibernation, and try to keep the temp at 46F (the lowest the cooler will go.)  I have observed at this temperature, Lasius tend to cluster and will eventually move if disturbed, but fairly slow moving and really no activity.  If we lose power, the wine cooler will reset and the temperature will bump up to 52F, and this 6 degrees makes a big difference in activity.  The Lasius will be more responsive and also active.  This matches what I saw this Fall, where I would see Lasius foraging outdoors on 50F degree days.  I suspect @Karma could be on to something with that temp being a bit too high for hibernation.


Edited by noebl1, January 16 2018 - 5:29 AM.

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#6 Offline Ender Ants - Posted January 16 2018 - 4:53 PM

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I've got a wine chiller I use for hibernation, and try to keep the temp at 46F (the lowest the cooler will go.)  I have observed at this temperature, Lasius tend to cluster and will eventually move if disturbed, but fairly slow moving and really no activity.  If we lose power, the wine cooler will reset and the temperature will bump up to 52F, and this 6 degrees makes a big difference in activity.  The Lasius will be more responsive and also active.  This matches what I saw this Fall, where I would see Lasius foraging outdoors on 50F degree days.  I suspect @Karma could be on to something with that temp being a bit too high for hibernation.

Ok, thanks for the info!


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