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1-3 workers dying each day in a small colony

dying workers tetramorium mealworms honey

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31 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Derek451 - Posted May 10 2018 - 2:17 PM

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Problem:

 

Starting at about 3 weeks ago, I have noticed that there is an average of 1 to 3 worker deaths per day in my colony of 70 workers. I am sure they are not dying of old age. Some of the workers that died were young, lightly colored ones. They seem to just drop dead in various places and before they die, some walk all weird as if they're drunk and fall over and never get back up. I thought it might be their food, which used to be organic raw agar syrup and crickets, so I changed to feeding them honey and mealworms. Their brood pile is average for their colony size, and their population growth is around 1 worker per day.

 

Just FYI, this is my very first colony

 

 

Species: Tetramorium species E (now Tetramorium immigrans)

 

Colony Age: 11 months

 

Worker Count: ~70

 

Diet:

 

       Before 5/9/2018: small blob of organic raw blue agave syrup on a river stone, two ~10mm long crickets cut up, every other day

 

       Current: small blob of raw unfiltered honey, two ~20mm long mealworms cut up.

 

Habitat:

 

       Outworld: 5x5-inch plastic box with fine sterile sand, upper walls coated with Fluon

                

       Nest: One 11x100mm glass test tube with cotton ball and distilled water inside

 

       Temperature: ~75F day, ~65F night, no heating for nest

 

       Humidity: not sure

 

 

I really, really hope there is something I can do to help them, but I don't know. Feel free to ask for more details


Edited by Derek451, May 10 2018 - 9:14 PM.


#2 Offline AntsAreUs - Posted May 10 2018 - 2:20 PM

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Is there any residues on the containers that may kill the ants? You can also try changing up their diet, I know mine love seeds. Also Tetramorium sp. E I think are now Tetramorium immigrans.


Edited by AntsAreUs, May 10 2018 - 2:23 PM.


#3 Offline Derek451 - Posted May 10 2018 - 2:31 PM

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Is there any residues on the containers that may kill the ants? You can also try changing up their diet, I know mine love seeds. Also Tetramorium sp. E I think are now Tetramorium immigrans

 

 

I don't think there are any toxic residues, I bought the box just for this purpose, it has been their outworld for 9 months already. I have also cleaned each test tube that I move them into.



#4 Offline AntsAreUs - Posted May 10 2018 - 2:45 PM

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Is there any residues on the containers that may kill the ants? You can also try changing up their diet, I know mine love seeds. Also Tetramorium sp. E I think are now Tetramorium immigrans

 

 

I don't think there are any toxic residues, I bought the box just for this purpose, it has been their outworld for 9 months already. I have also cleaned each test tube that I move them into.

 

I would try to change up their diet then. Sometimes after ants eat one thing for a while they will want something different.



#5 Offline sirjordanncurtis - Posted May 10 2018 - 4:31 PM

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What kind of honey?

I've seen tetramorium workers keel up and die within a few minutes of being fed certain honeys


Edited by sirjordanncurtis, May 10 2018 - 4:32 PM.

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#6 Offline Enderz - Posted May 10 2018 - 8:26 PM

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Maybe try sugar water? Honey can sometimes have stuff in it that's not good and also can "drown" ants.


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#7 Offline sirjordanncurtis - Posted May 10 2018 - 9:01 PM

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You also might want to dilute the honey a bit if you haven't already. It can dry pretty quick on it's own, and if the honey hardens on a worker's head, many parts might lose it's functionality, resulting in a quick death



#8 Offline Derek451 - Posted May 10 2018 - 9:06 PM

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So the two liquids I feed them are Organic Raw Blue Agave and Raw Unfiltered Honey. I do not dilute them.

 

I think I might try sugar water. What's the ratio? Do I need to heat the mixture?


Edited by Derek451, May 10 2018 - 9:13 PM.


#9 Offline Enderz - Posted May 10 2018 - 9:12 PM

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So the two liquids I feed them are Organic Raw Blue Agave and Raw Unfiltered Honey. I do not dilute them.

 

I think I might try sugar water. What's the ratio? do I need to heat the mixture?

It's just 1:1 ratio and I don't think you need to heat it, just don't use blisteringly cold water.


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#10 Offline Derek451 - Posted May 10 2018 - 10:06 PM

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Slightly off topic, but how can I tell for sure what species of Tetramorium my colony is? I've always assumed they were species E or immigrans because they are the most abundant species of pavement ants in the US.



#11 Offline LC3 - Posted May 10 2018 - 10:44 PM

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T. caespitum -> turns out is species complex -> assigned A,B,C,D,E, etc -> North American one gets E -> Tetramorium caespitum complex gets ironed out -> Tetramorium sp. E becomes known as T. immigrans

The taxonomy for the North American populations are still a bit shaky if I remember correctly but that’s the jist of it anyways.
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#12 Offline Serafine - Posted May 10 2018 - 10:51 PM

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Diluted maple syrup (2-4 parts water, 1 part maple syrup) works well for all of my ants.

Also try to feed them lots of different foods (flies, crickets, locusts, fruit flies, spiders, meat, ham, nuts, almonds, sesame seeds, shrimp, cat food, dog food, etc.) to prevent malnutrition.
Not sure if distilled water is good for ants in the long run, maybe try mineral water with the next tube.

 

Slightly off topic, but how can I tell for sure what species of Tetramorium my colony is? I've always assumed they were species E or immigrans because they are the most abundant species of pavement ants in the US.

You can't. Tetramorium caespitum-impurum and Tetramorium immigrans are both species complexes containing dozens of (sub)species each which can often only be told apart by the shape of their males' genitals, some even only by genetic analysis.


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#13 Offline MegaMyrmex - Posted May 11 2018 - 3:36 AM

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Is the nest hydrated? I had the same problem as before with a small twtramorium colony that had 1 worker die every other day because od dehydration. In my opinion, if I find anta dying daily, my first response would be to check their food intake and make aure that their nest is well hydrated.

Proverbs 6:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
    consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
    no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
    and gathers its food at harvest.

 


#14 Offline Derek451 - Posted May 11 2018 - 7:48 PM

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Is the nest hydrated? I had the same problem as before with a small twtramorium colony that had 1 worker die every other day because od dehydration. In my opinion, if I find anta dying daily, my first response would be to check their food intake and make aure that their nest is well hydrated.

 

Ok, now that you mention it I do notice that the cotton ball that separates the nest from the water in the test tube is not fully soaked.

 

Should I make another test tube with a more thoroughly soaked ball and move them into it? It's gonna take a few days...



#15 Offline MegaMyrmex - Posted May 12 2018 - 1:37 PM

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Is the nest hydrated? I had the same problem as before with a small twtramorium colony that had 1 worker die every other day because od dehydration. In my opinion, if I find anta dying daily, my first response would be to check their food intake and make aure that their nest is well hydrated.

 

Ok, now that you mention it I do notice that the cotton ball that separates the nest from the water in the test tube is not fully soaked.

 

Should I make another test tube with a more thoroughly soaked ball and move them into it? It's gonna take a few days...

 

 

I would suggest getting a small piece of paper towel or a tiny cotton ball and soaking it in water and placing it in their test tube setup. If they start to show interest in it and begin to lap up the water. If they lap up the water, I would move them into a new test tube setup. I lost my favorite Tetramorium colony because of dehydration...


Proverbs 6:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
    consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
    no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
    and gathers its food at harvest.

 


#16 Offline Derek451 - Posted May 12 2018 - 7:19 PM

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I placed a soaked cotton ball in their outworld.

 

But doesn't the honey already satisfy their thirst? Why is a cotton ball needed? I thought their problem was hydration in the nest for humidity.



#17 Offline Derek451 - Posted May 12 2018 - 9:24 PM

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Ok, good news. No ants have died within the last 2 days. (doesn't mean the case is closed. Please stand by, the deaths may not be over)

 

They haven't showed interested in the cotton ball. I think they're ok. But should I move them to a test tube with a more thoroughly soaked cotton ball, just for more humidity?

 

Side question: How effective is heating to a colony's growth rate? I've had my colony for almost a year and their population is still under 100. I really want them to grow so they won't be so vulnerable to these events.



#18 Offline LC3 - Posted May 12 2018 - 9:46 PM

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I placed a soaked cotton ball in their outworld.

 

But doesn't the honey already satisfy their thirst? Why is a cotton ball needed? I thought their problem was hydration in the nest for humidity.

 

Honey is really acidic and doesn't have a very high moisture content (~ 17%). Otherwise it wouldn't be honey. Your typical sugar water mixture is usually 50% water and water in fruit is more than 80%.

 

Also heating is a huge factor in colony growth, since ants are cold blooded and their metabolism is pretty reliant on heat. Tetramorium in particular love heat, they're pavement ants for a reason. 


Edited by LC3, May 12 2018 - 9:49 PM.

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#19 Offline Jonathan21700 - Posted May 13 2018 - 11:27 AM

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Yeah, just stop giving honey. More sugar water and fruits and don't forget feeding them protein daily too !



#20 Offline Shifty189 - Posted May 13 2018 - 1:14 PM

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None of my test tube setups have a “wet surface” on there cotton balls. As I understand it, the ants can pull water from the moist layer of cotton just under he dry layer.

In other words it’s not Necessarily a problem.

Edited by Shifty189, May 13 2018 - 1:15 PM.






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