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AntsBC's Parasitic Formica planipilis Journal (Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2020)

antsbc parasitic formica formica rufa group journal formica planipilis

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#1 Offline AntsBC - Posted September 15 2018 - 4:20 PM

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Hey everybody,

 

After keeping this colony for around 2-3 months, I have finally decided to start a Journal on them!

 

I caught this queen while I was at a camp up in the boonies about 2-3 months ago, in June if I recall correctly. 

 

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The queen when I first caught her

 

So now I'll get into getting her colony started. After a few attempts of giving her pupae of different Formica in the fusca group, I realized that she was unable to open cocoons.

 

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My queen with dying pupae

 

Knowing that the queen couldn't open pupae, I released her into a queen-less Formica pacifica colony that was living in a naturalistic setup at the time. Some of the workers apparently wanted the queen to become their queen and some disagreed, so eventually, I took the queen out of the setup in fears that the workers were going to kill her as the aggression level was rising. What I decided to do instead was get two callow workers and around 10 pupae from the same colony and offer it to the queen in a outworld that I connected to the test tube I had her in. She almost immediately ran into the outworld and ran up to the workers. It seemed one worker didn't trust the queen and was scared while the other was interested in the queen in a good way. Eventually what happened was, the one worker joined/united with the queen while the other worker still stayed away from the two. Later the worker joined the newly founded "colony" and they started to open pupae.

 

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For a while, the newly founded colony didn't want to enter the test tube. Eventually, I got them to move by using airflow to disturb them. This picture shows them in the outworld before they moved into the test tube.

 

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The colony after I got them to move into the test tube. They had a lot of pupae back then, but only 2 or 3 of those actually became workers. I'm still not sure where all the pupae went to this day. Most likely, the colony ate them.

 

Currently, they have about 10 workers and no eggs. I don't expect the queen to lay until after hibernation. I'm really hoping she's fertile as I would love to start a colony of these guys. I just moved them into a new test tube today. here's a short video of them in the new one after the move: 

 

 

Thanks for reading this gigantic post lol.


Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:46 PM.

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#2 Offline AntsBC - Posted October 16 2018 - 3:32 PM

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Well, my suspicions about her species turned out to be right after all!

 

With a little help from Anthony, I was able to clarify that this queen isn't Formica obscuripes after all. She is only 6mm long, and that is the main reason why she isn't.

 

Its actually quite funny how I figured out what species she actually is though. A few weeks back Anthony was showing me pictures of obscuripes-like Formica queens, and he showed me a picture of a Formica fossaceps queen. The queen instantly made me think of my queen, and right away I knew I had potentially just found the mystery species of my queen (as I still wasn't sold on my queen being F. obscuripes). I looked at keys and everything matched perfectly with the queen. Then came the moment of truth, size. I went over to bug-guide and slowly began to scroll down the page. Then, my eyes saw it: "queens 6 mm"! PERFECT MATCH. I went over to AntWiki to clarify and they said the same thing, around 6mm. The final thing to check was location. According to AntMaps, Formica fossaceps isn't present in BC. When I saw this my heart was instantly broken, but then came the silver lining: they are present in Alberta! This means that my queen could still easily be F. fossaceps, as it is likely that Myrmecologists just haven't found F. fossaceps in BC yet, which means If this queen is indeed fossaceps I was the first one to find them here! I honestly don't know what else she could be. I went through BC's list of Formica sp, and the closest I got to the queen was F. obscuripes which is why I have been calling her obscuripes for a while. Anyways, until I get final clarification from higgins, I'm going to be calling this queen Formica cf. fossaceps, as every key I have looked at match up with her, including size. The only red light is location, which is why I'm going to have to email Higgins before I can officially call her F. fossaceps.

 

And as for this colony, they are doing pretty good. Their gaster's are plump with food stored for hibernation.

I put them into a semi hibernation state a few weeks ago. I only feed them a little bit and they are only checked up on once every 2 weeks. I'm probably going to officially lock them up for hibernation in mid to late November. 

 

Next update on these guys will come in spring, fingers crossed she's fertile!!!

 

Here's a video I took a few weeks back:

 

 

And some photos (My camera was having trouble focusing today but I'll send the photo's anyways):

 

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Edited by AntsBC, October 21 2018 - 7:30 PM.

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#3 Offline AntsBC - Posted January 22 2019 - 8:23 PM

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Update: January 22, 2019

 

I took this colony out of hibernation today. The colony looks pretty healthy and no hibernation deaths have occurred. I'm excited to see the queen's first generations and what the workers will look like. Hopefully, with photos of the workers, I will be able to get a finalized ID on her. For now, I am still calling her Formica cf. fossaceps. I'm guessing the queen will start producing eggs in April, although you never know. Anyways, I am very excited to see this colony go through their first official season. 

 

My photos aren't the greatest as the workers were huddling over the queen, but I was able to get a few good shots of her. Here they are:

 

 hH7SLu7lwn796PqcZiXZP9Y4QAq5p3nUCw20CReDlGv3rkfoZ_o7dOqghBsN6R6MV0s1wIWnnGMmYr0f
Ahsx70UYb_-JWOVev61CJRn6B63zV3jKumdM4beh
rKZmpEh87V0ZBu2U2f8PdeBnPap9WYq2eMAmyqQv
 
A few cropped pictures of the queen:
 
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LVlLSiHBOW5xNEMNXh2tEst4EwhfOaxv4jwf9fZX
V_YJ_ctKIAmERmbjUYFWLNHZKDB-nvkmfFKIowik
 
Thanks for reading!

Edited by AntsBC, June 19 2019 - 4:10 PM.

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#4 Offline Karma - Posted January 22 2019 - 10:19 PM

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Hahaha quite the interesting story behind this colony. It really annoys me that many sources say a ton of different species exist in Alberta and BC separately, even though we practically share the same landscape and climate around the border. Same with the borders of Alberta and Montana. I have seen a ton of ants in Alberta and BC that aren't declared by ant maps or any other ant database.


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#5 Offline AntsBC - Posted January 23 2019 - 2:35 PM

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Hahaha quite the interesting story behind this colony. It really annoys me that many sources say a ton of different species exist in Alberta and BC separately, even though we practically share the same landscape and climate around the border. Same with the borders of Alberta and Montana. I have seen a ton of ants in Alberta and BC that aren't declared by ant maps or any other ant database.

 

If you are making what you believe to be discoveries I would suggest taking photos/specimens and sending them to a local Myrmecologist. I know a BC Myrmecologist, Dr. Higgins, and I bet he would be interested. His email is rhiggins@tru.ca . Chances are the spp. you believe to be different spp. are actually the same as some of the other spp. in the province and they are already documented, although you could be right, I haven't seen them.


Edited by AntsBC, January 23 2019 - 2:55 PM.

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#6 Offline Karma - Posted January 23 2019 - 9:13 PM

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Hahaha quite the interesting story behind this colony. It really annoys me that many sources say a ton of different species exist in Alberta and BC separately, even though we practically share the same landscape and climate around the border. Same with the borders of Alberta and Montana. I have seen a ton of ants in Alberta and BC that aren't declared by ant maps or any other ant database.

 

If you are making what you believe to be discoveries I would suggest taking photos/specimens and sending them to a local Myrmecologist. I know a BC Myrmecologist, Dr. Higgins, and I bet he would be interested. His email is rhiggins@tru.ca . Chances are the spp. you believe to be different spp. are actually the same as some of the other spp. in the province and they are already documented, although you could be right, I haven't seen them.

 

 

Hahaha well I'd love to call them "discoveries" but I think that would be overselling it. I assume it is just known that ants most likely cross over borders frequently but spending time updating all that information all the time would be pointless unless it is a major migration. For example, there are a few Camponotus species that exist in BC but not in Alberta however most of these ants are found in forests so the odds of crossovers on the border are probably likely. Thank you for the reference though, if I see anything major and am absolutely positive about it, I will definitely contact Dr. Higgins.



#7 Offline TennesseeAnts - Posted March 23 2019 - 6:10 PM

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Uuuuuuuuppppppddddddaaaaaatttteeeee?
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#8 Offline AntsBC - Posted May 24 2019 - 9:31 AM

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Big Update: Friday, May 24, 2019

 

Today, I am very happy to announce that.. we have eggs!!!!!  :yahoo: 

 

She has a batch of around five at the moment. Hopefully, she will lay some more, as her gaster is definitely nice and bloated right now!

 

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KRx_3-U7WuNyb_ebQUKFETgmvJNbQCZHtbmvU3QN

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

With that exciting news out of the way, now I'll get into some of the more boring journaling notes:

 

At the beginning of May, I connected the colonies' test tube to a outworld. Then, I introduced a bottle cap filled with honey and a bunch of dirt to the outworld. Since success for rufa group Formica is closely related to their environment, I figured some dirt might help the queen feel more homely in her test tube. It has also been proven that ants with constant access to carbohydrates do much better than those without, so that is why I gave them the honey depositor.

 

The ants began to re-position the dirt after about three days. They created a little hill that makes moving in and out of their test tube easier:

 

atyO6cIH45RG59hoSx-K7hRhzPUHGUHOmQng04QN

 

After about a week of being in this new setup, the queen started to lay eggs. The whole colony is highly reactive to when I check on them now, as basically all the host workers (and even sometimes the queen) run into their outworld like chickens without heads. There seems to be a designated egg carrier, too, because whenever I check on them a worker is always carrying the eggs in her mouth. 

 

This photo shows the "egg carrier" running around in the outworld after I exposed their test tube to check on them. Apparently, when the nest is exposed, she feels the eggs will be safer in the outworld.

 

B0ze_FwwqTavMTN0pK29EpYOhDBR61lT9xQtIlDW

 

Anyways, I'm very excited for this colony! Fingers crossed those eggs will make it to worker stage! 

 

And here's some photos of the queen and the host workers who haven't fled to the outworld, haha:

 

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6JKJbKNHdyDd-vjuidFyqKDgHW6bDlJxNh5hg2k-


Edited by AntsBC, June 19 2019 - 4:13 PM.

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#9 Offline AntsBC - Posted June 6 2019 - 9:23 AM

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Photo Update: Thursday, June 6, 2019

 
She has laid more eggs!:
 
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I absolutely love her colors, too!:
 
lkCuhHFE6FCyQyBehC-Rrxqc0kVIAfFJogQdDKyDZSuUFwbnyrp1u8qOcr1CD2p8Zefm5Hxm5Z4s84tuQFb-U50lLgy3sYXU3Hq9EeLS_9YT-KmcnS1Pf7AJ
 
It shouldn't be long until the eggs turn into larva. Her egg batch is definitely growing.

Edited by AntsBC, June 19 2019 - 4:12 PM.

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#10 Offline AntsBC - Posted June 19 2019 - 3:55 PM

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Update: Wednesday, June 19, 2019

 
This colony has been progressing nicely. They have a lot of eggs/small larva at the moment. I'm going to give them a ton of protein in the next little while, so hopefully they can get their first generation born soon.
 
Here's some photos:
 
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1UYrI7osXJc_EwK7SvIypO-QYWz1LHl16HDhK6mM-oo9TwkaaPOWOFbzz3kwfC1xCEIvI5sYlq9IsgZo

Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:47 PM.

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#11 Offline CatsnAnts - Posted June 19 2019 - 3:59 PM

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Congrats! :D It’s always exciting to raise parasitic species, and so rewarding when it finally yields a colony!
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Spoiler

#12 Offline AntsBC - Posted July 15 2019 - 8:35 AM

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Update: Monday, July 15, 2019

 
suA9Eg52PNx34WGKHbl7xAg7y76rOX9HwHlJ7b8N2LEUSd0GP1ZxgwbJNEl0-lBR58Fi2Eaq9TBNUIshdM2mu0DsbMrCZgDiAz5M3HsEBODnHvgWVO0Gjlz-w-RWJzEQb4h1UtWMmpyTwGcdIHiOzxRCR5JjXygX
 
(Not sure why the photo proportions are off... open the photos in a new tab to see the accurate dimensions)

Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:47 PM.

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#13 Offline AntsBC - Posted July 26 2019 - 3:52 PM

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Update: Friday, July 26, 2019

 
The majority of the brood have hit the pupae stage now!
 
Once most of the brood hit the pupae stage, the behavior in this colony also changed. Before, when I checked on this colony, all the workers and queen would run into their outworld, carrying brood in their mouths. Since most of the larva has turned into pupae, the colony seems to be more reserved and less jumpy. Now, when I check on them, some workers run into the outworld, but most of them and the queen just stay in the test tube. They still react to the light, but not hardly as much as they have done before. 
 
This is probably just because they are getting used to being disturbed in their nest, but I thought it was worth documenting. 
 
Also, one worker seems to have 3ish larva and a couple pupae that she's taking care of, in the outworld. I guess she doesn't like bunking with the rest of the colony, haha.
 
Here's some photos:
 
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Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:48 PM.

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#14 Offline AntsBC - Posted August 17 2019 - 2:02 PM

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Update: Saturday, August 17, 2019

 
Well folks, we did it. THE FIRST WORKERS HAVE ECLOSED!!!!! I am so incredibly happy for this colony!
 
This queen has shown incredible perseverance, and I am so glad that everything worked out for her. I also have to give a huge thanks to the F. pacifica workers for being awesome hosts; we couldn't of done it without them! They did their job selflessly and efficiently, and I am grateful for that. Sadly, some of the host workers are starting to pass away. It has been over a year since I captured them to act as hosts, so they definitely have lived full lives. They completed the mission I bestowed upon them, and I am thankful for that too.
 
o1Cp2TRdw9Jr4Neh-3H1zddyw5gNp45o-JcFBJD6
M8k8nLzFljApYxUA_KXApZxCwE650zAn5RpvmYdQ
iVl4-Ex3k3chbFnVVK6bmKbAdXhuDR7BL13pJ0Pr
4XUlSoCUvIe2oDqwBo6HFBLxxGfcLEG4ZIWCDzNw
776KPihjiO12t8lVBRG8RWM3Wmvawv3z1QECD53Y
 
(For some reason, the photo dimensions are inaccurate when displayed on Formiculture; please open the photos in a new tab to see the accurate dimensions)

Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:48 PM.

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#15 Offline AntsBC - Posted September 14 2019 - 6:51 PM

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Update: Saturday, September 14, 2019:

 

These guys are doing great. I don't have time for a detailed update, but here's a video of them:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=wJB0RE_F5_M


Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:48 PM.

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#16 Offline ANTdrew - Posted September 15 2019 - 2:51 AM

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What a cool journal, brother!
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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.


#17 Offline AntsBC - Posted October 28 2019 - 10:53 AM

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Update: Monday, October 28, 2019:
 
I put these guys into hibernation yesterday.  I keep all my ants in my garage and the temperature seemed to be getting a little too low for them, so I used some foam insulation and some pajama material to make them a nice, cozy test tube cover.  I'm hoping the cover will preserve some heat.
 
It's hard to tell, but I estimate these guys have anywhere between 10-20 biological workers.
 
I'm also going to be partaking in a in-depth, identificational revision of these guys once I get access to a better camera.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these guys are actually F. planipilis, despite what the queen keys say.

Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:48 PM.

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#18 Offline Da_NewAntOnTheBlock - Posted October 28 2019 - 12:06 PM

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Update, Monday, October 28, 2019:
 
I put these guys into hibernation yesterday.  I keep all my ants in my garage and the temperature seemed to be getting a little too low for them, so I used some foam insulation and some pajama material to make them a nice, cozy test tube cover.  I'm hoping the cover will preserve some heat.
 
It's hard to tell, but I estimate these guys have anywhere between 10-20 biological workers.
 
I'm also going to be partaking in a in-depth, identificational revision of these guys once I get access to a better camera.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these guys are actually F. planipilis, despite what the queen keys say.

Ants don't produce their own body heat so you may have to periodically heat them up. Also, if the cool down is natural it should NOT be an issue because they should be able to produce some antifreeze. But don't take my word for it, I only know about Campomotous

There is a important time for everything, important place for everyone, an important person for everybody, and an important ant for each and every ant keeper and myrmecologist alike


#19 Offline NickAnter - Posted November 4 2019 - 5:56 PM

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I do badly regret letting go 3 Formica aserva queens this summer! Could have been so cool.

Edited by NickAnter, February 16 2020 - 4:36 PM.

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Species being kept:

 

Solenopsis truncorum, Solenopsis "plebeius", Solenopsis validiuscula, Solenopsis sp., Solenopsis xyloni, Solenopsis amblychila, Camponotus vicinus, Camponotus maritimus, Formica cf. subaenescens, Formica cf. aerata, Lasius cf. americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Lasius brevicornis, Lasius nr claviger, Pheidole navigans, Nylanderia vividula, Aphaenogaster occidentalis, Temnothorax rudis, Temnothorax cf. nitens, Pogonomyrmex californicus, and Strumigenys membranifera

 

People are stupid. It explains a lot...


#20 Offline AntsBC - Posted May 12 2020 - 6:45 PM

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Big Update: Tuesday, May 12th, 2020:
 
The long awaited update is finally here.  I apologize for the lack of upkeep on this journal.
 
This colony hibernated well.  Only a few host workers had passed away and I can confidently partly attribute that to old age. 
 
These girls were doing well for the first couple weeks after hibernation, and then they had an unexpected die off.  It started off from silly things such as ants drowning themselves in their liquid sugar-mix.  This had never happened before with this colony.  Then, workers started dying for no reason.  Consequently, I moved them into a new test tube that was filled with dirt.  They excavated it and seemed to like it.  It is important to note that during the die-off only biological workers died.  After moving them into the new test tube, a few more biological and host workers passed away, but their deaths were rather spontaneous.  The death of these host workers can be associated with old age, the death of these biological workers was probably connected to the earlier die-off.  They were probably dying when the colony was moved into the new tube.  I personally believe that the die-off was caused by a rather long hibernation.  I caught these ants from an area which receives higher summer temperatures than out here.  With the help of their heat trapping mounds, F. rufa group colonies generally start earlier in the season than other species.  In the future, I think I'm going to have to figure out a way to give them heat earlier to jump start them.
 
Anyways, aside from that disappointing learning curve, this colony has been doing great!  They are drinking a ton of my sugar mix and the queen has been highly productive.  They haven't been eating as much protein foods as I would like, but I think that's mainly because it's a small colony and they do not have larvae yet.
 
Also, on a side note, my presumption about this colony was correct.  After mounting a specimen, taking some detailed photos, and emailing with Dr. Higgins, I've been able to confirm that they are indeed Formica planipilis and not Formica fossaceps.  This just goes to show how difficult identifying F. rufa group species can be.  As a result, the name of this journal shall be changed.
 
Anyways, back to this colony.  The queen has laid two fairly large egg batches.  I could see more eggs being laid in the coming weeks as well.  I would put the worker count of this colony at somewhere in between 10-15 workers.  I really hope more are born soon as the host workers that are currently present could die from old age any day now.
 
I will update this journal again once the eggs hatch into larvae.
 
Here are some photos; mostly of the egg batches, of which there are two.  Two photos are of the smaller one, one photo is of both, one is of the larger one.  I apologize for the quality of the photos.  It has become very difficult to photograph these girls through their dirt littered test tube.
 
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Edited by AntsBC, July 29 2020 - 1:48 PM.

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