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Designing Optimal Formicarium for Tiny Ants


24 replies to this topic

#21 Offline rptraut - Posted November 28 2021 - 11:33 AM

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Another option - If I need an emergency formicarium (like the time I found an entire Lasius niger colony on my picnic table under a metal sundial) I grabbed a glass jar, put a large pill bottle in the center and filled around the outside with wood chips.  I swept as many of them in as I could (making sure the queen went in the jar) and watched them disappear into the chips.  I left the whole thing on the table under a black felt cloth.  Overnight, all the strays and missed brood were moved into the jar and the entire colony was inside when I put the lid on in the morning.  I topped it off with some moss and a rock and the colony lived in there all summer quite happily.  I'll put them in a proper formicarium this spring,  probably made using wood chips.  For a more detailed description of that construction, I have outlined it in a post in the "What kind of plaster should I use" thread. 

 

I had a couple of cases last spring/summer when I caught queens that simply would not settle in the test tube, they tried endlessly to chew or work their way through the cotton.  I actually lost a couple of queens when they became tangled in the loosened cotton.  After a few days of watching a couple of queens struggle I tried a different method.  I took a pill bottle, (the large ones you get from the pharmacist with the child proof lids) drilled a hole in the lid and installed a screen and then partially filled the bottle loosely with moist, decomposing wood chips.  They are fairly large chips with lots of spaces between them for a queen to make a founding chamber.  I topped it off with a layer of moss and wrapped the bottle in black felt.  When I put one of those queens in there, she immediately headed down through the moss into the chips.  About the time I figured nanitics should be arriving, I put a small sugar water feeder and some food on top of the moss.  I didn't always see the nanitics feeding, but the sugar water went down and the food was being taken.  I think I have at least a couple of fledgling niger colonies in hibernation now.  I also used this method for some neoniger and crematogaster queens that I caught last fall that are also in hibernation.  I'll see what happens in spring.  If all goes well and they manage to found colonies, I intend to place each bottle (without the lid) in a small formicarium and let them move in as they wish.  I think this method has a couple of advantages for the ants.  Shy queens feel more secure and the environment has higher humidity for species that prefer a moister situation ie brachymyrmex.  It also reduces the temptation to keep checking queens, possibly stressing them.  You just have to have faith and be patient.   Giving them food and water is easier than a test tube.  Just take off the lid and do whatever you have to.  I put Vaseline around the top to keep them off the lid and prevent escapes, but they were pretty shy and usually disappeared into the chips at feeding time so I have never really had a problem.  I can see them through the screen as they feed.

 

I also use pill bottles when catching queens.  It's easy to carry a couple of small pill bottles in a pocket wherever I go because you never know when a queen will walk across the sidewalk in front of you.  I have easily caught many queens this way when I wasn't even looking for them.  One tip - I keep a small piece of paper in one bottle which I use to corral and capture any reluctant queens.  A queen that won't go readily into a pill bottle will happily climb onto a piece of paper and then you've got her.  I hope this helps.


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#22 Offline Chickalo - Posted November 29 2021 - 6:15 AM

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Honestly kind of a fan of that Panera cup one.  Imagine putting Ponera in Panera.


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ヒッピティホピティ、私の財産から性交を取得します。


#23 Offline KK_KeepsAnts - Posted January 1 2022 - 6:28 PM

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Does the Vaseline trick work with Lasius Flavus? I have a recently acquired colony, and I put Vaseline around the rim and on the lid of their home. I'm worried that they may be able to climb across it and through the air-holes right into the paws of my cats.


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#24 Offline ANTdrew - Posted January 2 2022 - 2:31 PM

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Does the Vaseline trick work with Lasius Flavus? I have a recently acquired colony, and I put Vaseline around the rim and on the lid of their home. I'm worried that they may be able to climb across it and through the air-holes right into the paws of my cats.

I doubt it. Buy some fluon.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#25 Offline antsriondel - Posted January 3 2022 - 7:15 AM

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Does the Vaseline trick work with Lasius Flavus? I have a recently acquired colony, and I put Vaseline around the rim and on the lid of their home. I'm worried that they may be able to climb across it and through the air-holes right into the paws of my cats.

I use olive oil on all of my small colonies and it works really well.






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