Isabella my queen has had her first insect since I got her,it was a very thin very inactive meal worm,when I first offered it her she backed into the test tube and I thought it was going to be reenactment of the earth worm scenario,but then she suddenly ran towards it and bit it,she repeated this a few times before she started to tear away at it,at one point she raised her front legs as she held it in her mandibles,as if she was doing a victory stance,I left her to it,so I'll check what's left later on,it amazed me while watching her she turned from a timid ant into a fighting killing ant,this has left me relieved as she only has taken honey water before,and she did eat her first brood which were only four,hopefully now she will produce more brood and not feel the need to eat them.
I've found that Camponotus queens are generally quite aggressive in the founding stage. My herculeanus, xiangban and chilensis queens were particularly fierce when offered fresh protein. Glad to see she's doing well.
Today I fed her another meal worm,this one was a lot more active,and despite many attempts by my queen ant she just could not break it's skin,knowing that meal worms can also inflict damage I decided to cut the meal worm in half,I then put the meal worm back in,and then her larva started moving in for a feed,I didn't realize larva could move that far by itself,I thought the queen had to carry them to food or bring food to them,the queen was just cleaning herself,again I have left her and her larva alone,she hasn't laid any more eggs yet,but I'm hopeful.This picture was taken a month ago,I moved her back into her test tube after realizing she felt more secure in her test tube.
I just checked and the larva is eating the last bits of meal worm,maybe I should have chosen a fatter meal worm,I have given the queen some honey water,I always soak the cotton wool at the entrance of the test tube in honey water,so when I see the queen trying to feed of the cotton wool,I know what she wants,when she has finished drinking from it I take the cotton wool out clean any residue with a wet cotton bud then place new cotton wool in,she doesn't show any signs of stress when I do this,I'm sure she now sees me as a giant worker ant lol,I go foraging and bring her back tasty food.
I know it is not advised, but my queen was trying to pull the cotton wool away from the entrance, so I let her out into a outworld I'd previously let her roam around. She keeps getting drawn towards a large piece of dark wood I put in there, it's so dark you can't even see her while she is on it, it has a few natural holes in it, so maybe she is investigating it as a potential nest site. She left the larva feeding on meal worm in the test tube and it's right next to the wood, so not that far. I'll leave her over night, last time she did this she made her way back to the test tube on her own but that time she was carrying her baby. She will make up her own mind although if I find minute wood shavings on the substrate I'll know she wants a more natural nest for her young.
My queen has no brood and no workers,she spend her days hiding in the piece of wood and at night she forages,she has been like this since two weeks since my last post on her,and it is upsetting to see her without her own little colony,I will be making her a one chamber ytong nest with red transparent acrylic,so I can keep an eye on her,I'll also make her a grout outworld just a small one and see how she goes,I have thought that there is a possibility that she has hidden eggs in the wood,so I'll make sure the wood goes in her new outworld ,although with the length of time that has elapsed I seriously doubt she has hidden brood
Ater reading about how my queen lives in the wild I have decided to do a bit of gardening in her enclosure,apparently they like dry grassy places,they also like conifers,but my enclosure isn't tall enough even for a dwarf one,so looks like it will be grass,so I've planted some budgie seed,just waiting for them to sprout then I know it has worked,I give her apple slices and I know she has been nibbling on them,the slices only last a day though as the only way she will eat is if it's placed next to her wood and that is close to the heat mat which I have placed on the back of her enclosure,I have been reading about reptile radiators to use instead,but unfortunately these would kill her because of the high heat,so I'm drawn back to getting a heat cable when I can get one,or sticking to her heat mat.
As I was putting a apple slice into my queens natural set up I noticed that the budgie seeds had sprouted,in fact the growth rate is incredible,but I also noticed that mold had grown on some seeds that hadn't sprouted,so I borrowed about thirty springtails from my Pheidole noda colony and put them in,hopefully they will eat the mold,it is with upmost importance that the mold goes,there is no sign of mold on her wood,just a few small patches on her substrate,as I checked the wood for mold being careful to not let the queen fall out of it she moved out of the small space just enough for me to see in the narrowest place she has either eggs or larvae,I did not hesitate to put the wood back in place in her enclosure and leave her in peace,twice she has eaten her brood in the past and so I don't want to stress her in case she does it again,although this time she has put them in the tightest of places as the little hole isn't even viewable when she is in front of it,I will not be checking the wood again,I didn't even know the brood was there,hopefully the springtails will do there job,if not I'll create her a brand new enclosure of course her wood will take pride of place in it,instead of grass I'll have to use moss.
The mold has gone so those springtails really do a good job. I've just had a quick peek into the enclosure and the head part of the cricket has disappeared,so she is feeding well. I have noticed she has made a little type of ditch not far from her wood nest were she has placed left over food,I'm so happy she seems settled. I'm still refusing to check the wood to see if she has eaten her brood or not,I'm really hoping in a month or so she will have her first workers. Then I will try to get a small piece of tree trunk with hopefully some form of hollow parts to it so they can nest inside it.
I noticed today her rubbish has disappeared from the ditch. I aren't sure where she has put it, but I've got a feeling she has now left it in the grass area of her enclosure. I can't see it, but then the grass is about three cm tall and really thick with green and red coloring.
She has eaten her brood again,it can't be for the protein as I have been feeding her crickets regularly,so I have lost hope of her ever starting a colony,she seems well in herself and she went for a little walk in the grass area of her enclosure earlier today then headed back to her piece of wood,she is very special to me as she was the first Queen ant I ever bought,and I know that sometimes Camponotus can be difficult to keep,I'm still going to design a very naturalistic home for her as her comfort is important to me,I've failed with the Camponotus yet my other species of ants are booming in number in comparison.
I have been noticing unusual behavior from her today,something she normally doesn't do,first she has been at the edge of her enclosure staring at my other enclosure,then she has been trying to climb up the sides of her own enclosure,not bothering if I was there or not this for her is strange as she has been very secretive staying close or hidden in that piece of wood.