Had a bit of disaster today with my colony of sanguinea and rufibarbis. I accidentally left the lid off the foraging pot of the sanguinea colony and while I was out they decided to conduct a brood raid on 2 of the rufibarbis colonies that I keep, the rufibarbis don't have a lid just a ptfe barrier. I come home and went to quickly check the temperature as its warm today and noticed a rufibarbis queen wandering around on the surface which I thought was unusual, on a closer look I could see the sanguinea workers swarming the nest. I placed the queen in the safety of a test tube and started to remove the sanguinea workers one by one. They started to dive into the nest of the rufibarbis so I had no choice but to dig the nest up which is soil. To my surprise this colony has around 30 workers and the around 10 cocoons, plus the other queen is ok. It was hard separating the two species as some look alike, so had to do each one by hand with a microscope. I have returned the soil to the nest and placed 3 tubes of workers, cocoons and the queen back in and hopefully they can rebuild. Not one dead ant was found from the raid. I will try to sort the other nest later today as I have had to go out.
Reading this was like watching a disaster movie, brings you out in a cold sweat thinking about it! Thankgoodness it will turn out for the good in the end. Just shows you, ptfe is no good on sangs as I call them Brilliant job recapturing them all though.
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I wonder if the sangs could get across the PTFE border to raid, if they could climb back out again carrying captive brood? From what I know of wild nests they rarely kill many of the defending workers, but the defenders use the flight rather than fight and save what brood they can. Good that the rufibarbis queen adopted a flee policy as it saved her from injury or possible death.
From what it looked like the defenders had gone deep into the nest while the sanguinea workers were on the surface. Only the queen was visible. But I don't know how long the raid had been going on for. Good news is the colony has begun to dig back down into the soil to rebuild their nest.
One of the reasons why they are endangered now is because of sanguinea attacking rufibarbis nests. Formica sanguinea numbers are increasing in areas that known rufibarbis nests are so the future is not looking good for them.
Ok so I have 2 more soil set up nests of rufibarbis which I needed to check up on this evening after my sanguinea colony decided to raid them this afternoon. So the second nest to my horror has been completely wiped out apart from the queen which is alive. The 3rd nest I found one sanguinea worker in so I decided to dig into this nest and found 1 queen and 30-40 workers plus around 20 cocoons all alive and well. More than the 5 workers these had last winter so they have done really well this year and I had no idea. I gave some cocoons from this nest to the lone queen and hope she can survive and form another colony. Unsurprisingly the sanguinea colony is showing off its prizes this evening as they bring some suspiciously small cocoons to bask in the heat lamp which I know are cocoons from this afternoons raid. Ill try be more careful in future!