They've arrived alongside my Pheidole pallidula colony today. The colony is a fairly small size and healthy. Unfortunately, the cotton blocking their test tube wasn't in place. Whilst the queen and most of the colony was in the test tube, I still had to tear apart all the packaging to find the stragglers. They'd even set up a nursery inside the Ants Kalytta invoice!
No real fear or aggression from them. This is such a gentle species, they just walked back into the test tube when I prodded them.
I'm puzzled by two ants inside the colony, however. They are the same size and shape as the queen, but the colour of the workers. What's their function? I've asked another ant keeper and he reckons they could be dealated queens, but that would imply that there were drones in this colony recently...how odd! Any thoughts?
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The 2 paler ants are most certainly young queens, as alates appear around July. This suggests that those 2 slightly smaller queens were probably mated inside the colony last year and the darker queen is the dominant mother. If the other queens were not mated they may have adapted to act as workers, but as they have removed their wings the chances are they could have mated.
Post by TenebrousNova on Jun 19, 2017 20:47:40 GMT
The egg pile is actually twice as big now than it was when I took that last photo. This colony is going to have a LOT more workers this Summer! Again, I'm wondering if this is the work of the original queen or if the secondary queens are also laying.
Post by TenebrousNova on Jun 29, 2017 23:22:27 GMT
Just inspected the Temnothorax colony and saw this handsome little fellow walking around!
That's the first alate I've ever had born to a captive colony. I wonder how long his sisters will permit him to stick around? I did think a few pupae looked bigger than normal but I never expected a drone to be born.
The colony is still doing well and often eats fruit flies with a drop of honey. This morning one of the drones was sitting on the cotton when I removed it to feed them. He was just as calm as the others and walked obediently back into the test tube when I prodded him onward. The Temnothorax are so unconcerned by disturbances that they carried on as normal when I used my torch to better illuminate them for the following photos.
Here's the queen. She always seems to be on the move, checking up on her babies and walking around the nest.
I will very shortly end up with a third drone if this pupa is anything to go by! The slender gaster and narrow face is a dead giveaway. You can see his wings folded at his sides.
Here's one of the drones walking around the test tube. They are frequently groomed by the workers and often beg for food. You can see in this photo how big his eyes are!
Most of the brood at the moment are eggs with several large larvae and a few pupae, including the aforementioned drone. I wonder how many of those eggs and larvae are destined to become alates?
Post by TenebrousNova on Sept 14, 2017 18:08:24 GMT
Today I've moved this colony into a new nest, due to their test tube drying up completely. The new one is the smallest sized acrylic formicarium I could find, with two chambers. It's intended for founding queen ants, but it'll be more than large enough to keep these tiny girls in long-term.
Unfortunately, it appears that the last drone has died. Whether he died of old age (What's their lifespan, anyway?) or was killed by his sisters, I cannot say. Most of the larvae are getting quite big now and there's even a few pupae.
The only problem I have with this nest is that I bought a very small foraging box for them, but the hole of the nest is much smaller than on the box. Until I find a solution for connecting them, I'm keeping the nest sealed with a bit of cotton.
Post by TenebrousNova on Jan 31, 2018 19:14:46 GMT
The Temnothorax are still doing well. Few workers died over the winter and the queen (Plus her two queen-sized daughters) are looking happy enough. The main problem I have with this colony is keeping their nest clean as they're very messy and there's waste my tweezers cannot reach via the entrance hole. Placid though this colony is, I don't trust them enough to unscrew the lid!
They've eaten a few crickets lately and the larvae appear to be growing already. I've also been using them as a practice subject for my new camera and macro lens. I'm pleased with the results.