A few weeks ago I started collecting alate pupae from Formica lemani. I collected around 30 or so and placed them in a test tube in a small tank with 10 workers only. The queens seemed to hatch first...around 20 of them.. a week later 3 males arrived. I sprayed the tank every day to mimic rain and left them near the window.
Well today I came home and was greeted by a wingless queen running around..one dead male..and another male with what looks like a white fluff around the tip of his gaster.
I have seperated this queen and hoping she lays. Time will tell....if she does appear fertile or get any more evidence as more alates in test tube I'll let you all know. Will upload a video later.. As had to post this as so excited !
Unfortunately I must have injured the queen while removing her from the tank as she isn't looking good.. No more mating although last night 4 males were running around like headless chickens all over the tank... The queens stayed inside the test tube...will check when finished work.
Unfortunately this method still requires young male and queen larvae and pupae from wild nests to work...getting captive colonies to produce them is hard..even when they do, most colonies produce only one sex of reproductive young...probably to avoid inter-breeding in the nest....this is especially true in Atta and other tropical species.
More eggs and larvae appearing now...I think one of the secrets is that I only had 3 workers with the young queens and males...and all the young queens that never mated have survived the winter fine...some even help with nest duties.
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I have found that the less dominant queens in a multi queen colony will accept the duties of nurses, but hang on to those unmated queens as they might just mate this year if you manage to find more male pupae. Fingers crossed as this experiment is certainly intriguing.
I know I said would make new thread but since still experimenting will just stick to here.
So today I went collecting for queen and male Formica lemani pupae.
I found most of the males had already hatched and some queens. I collected around 100 males and 30 or so queens and 200+ pupae.
Separating was fun when I got home due to the number of workers that hitched a ride but eventually got them sorted.
Tank 1. This tank is for the hatched males and queens I collected to see if works with already hatched ones. I placed 3 large testtubes, all the winged ants, and 5 workers, who seem to have accepted the queens and males from other nests and feeding them too so pleased.
Tank 2. All pupae in here with 7 workers. Also in here is 3 testtubes and the workers have already collected the cocoons and put them in the tubes.
Both tanks got some honey water.
Starting in one week once they have settled, I will mist the tanks a little with water every 2 days to mimic weather, temperature woll be kept at outside temperature. Once all are hatched and starting to show signs of readyness to mate, we raise the temperature up a few degrees, and give the tank a good spray to mimic a heavy rain shower. The turn on a lamp near the tank and wait. Last time I did this, within an hour of the lamp going on the males were all over the tank, then the females followed and mating began. Because Formica lemani mate both on the wing or on the ground, this set up works well.
So will update every few days right to the big day which I will film.
If it works again this year I hope it will encourage others to do same, then we can just 'farm' our wild colonies of young males and queens once a year, instead of taking mature queens, thus helping protect our native colonies.
Interesting observations today. Tank 1 containing winged adults, shows all the males huddled in groups and the queens and workers on the pile of cocoons, seems the queens motherly instinct starts early as the are cleaning them.
Tank 2 has had its first hatchings of two males and a queen today, only 250 to go .
Both got honey water and a couple of flies for protein.