A new colony
I ordered a formicarium from AntHouse.es later last year and got some Messor Barbarus and seeds. It was exciting to see about 20-30 workers with varying sizes - minor, media and 2-3 majors. They came in a testtube and after putting all my colonies in nests that were too big last year (beginners mistakes eh!) I decided to keep them in the testtube over winter for hibernation, I just connected them to an outworld made from a handle jewellery box I'd be given randomly for something else.
I brought them out of hybernation with my other ants and being a larger colony they seemed to be quicker to come out of hybernation.
I got to put 2 of my byformica feeders in there as well, one with sugar water and one with honey water, so we'll see which goes fastest. I've also put a small petri dish with honey and marmite and fruitflies. As you can see they pretty quickly covered the dish with rubbish:
Including sadly, the body of one of the majors that potentially didn't survive winter or couldn't face the prospect of working for a whole new year:
Interestingly the colony have decided to excavate under the petri dish and start a second nest. I'm not sure if this is because their testtube has run out of water now it's been reheated post-hibernation?
Even stranger over the last few days I've seen the whole colony move out of the testtube under the petri dish... then back again the next day. Strange. They have left all the seeds in the testtube though.
As they had moved back into the testtube, I decided to add a big dead house spider to the outworld to feed the growing colony. Here is one of the first workers encountering it (the spider is on the right next to the condensation):
I'd not been quite sure what to do with humidity for this colony. As the test tube has run out of water and is now completely dry I've been dripping water into the outworld with a pipette, but now the colony has a second nest in there I don't want them to be flooded in the 2mm of white sand.
In other news, the spider went down a treat, this is all that remains:
Once the spider had been removed the colony brought some lavae and pupae out to get warm in the... sun? No, I'm not sure why they brought them out as the sun's no where near as warm as the heat mat, but here they are, check out the media worker carrying the pupae:
Because the colony had moved out of the testtube again and started to dig under the feeders as well I decided to extend their set up with a new outworld and a linked test tube full of fresh water. So I've got this set up now:
(new testtube) - (new outworld) - (original outworld)
I put all the old seeds from the test tube in the new outworld and they've all been collected and placed next to the feeder at the back. A note about the feeders, I have not seen any indication that the colony have worked out how to feed from them over the last couple of weeks. They've put sand in the tray at the bottom and climbed all around them, but I don't think I've seen any ants actually feeding. Has any one else had success with Messor Barbarus and byformica feeders?
Rather than move in the new test tube with water in, the colony have taken the seeds and fruit flies from the new outworld and decided to call the old outworld their current home. Even more bizzarely the queen has decided to live half in and half out of the new mini-nest the colony have dug under this feeder (below). She's actually underneath in this shot, but most of the time for several days she has just had her head in the sand and that seems to be enough, no concern that her backside is sticking out above ground!
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