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Prenolepis imparis Journal

Part of keeping ants is gaining information from others, including trials, errors and failures. This is an account of my collection and tracking of the “False Honeypot Ant” – Prenolepis imparis.

Collection

I collected 12 females on February 24th, 2017 on a wooded path around Cobb Lake in Bluffton, Ohio. Here is a Google Maps link to the collection location.We had an unusual 2-3 days in the mid 60’s which seemed to trigger the nuptial flights. All of these were either spotted walking, or found after moving loose leaf litter.

Thinking back to the time I caught the queens, we had 7 consecutive days above 60. (63,70,64,63,63,62) Here is the weather information for the day I captured the queens.

  • Time: 2:00-3:30 pm
  • Temperature: 73F
  • Wind: South @10-20mph
  • Humidity: 46%
  • Barometric: Dropping, although the hour I caught them the pressure jumped briefly.

https://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KFDY/2017/2/24/DailyHistory.html?req_city=Bluffton&req_state=OH&req_statename=Ohio&reqdb.zip=45817&reqdb.magic=1&reqdb.wmo=99999

Collected all 12 of these females in Northwest Ohio, on February 24th 2017. First attempt at Ant Keeping.

Status Updates

Currently, they reside in test tubes with cotton, in a cardboard box on the top m closet shelf, approximately 65-68F. After 2 weeks of captivity, I have noticed eggs in at least 8 of the test tubes. I am being careful not to check too often in fears of disturbing the queens. Notably, one of the queens with wings laid eggs, and still has the wings as of 3.23.2017.

3.30.2017

Just a few more photos, more eggs, better lens.  Still liking the queen with wings!

4.7.2017

I have been trying my hardest to limit the interaction I have to around once a week until some workers are present with the queen. Most of the Broods seem to be doing well, increasing in both numbers and some pretty obvious larvae at this stage, which is exciting. I took the opportunity to go ahead and try my hand at some more photos, and I am now realizing how hard it is to get great captures through not only round test tubes, but cheap test tubes. Light is hard and the extrusion lines in the glass are readily apparent at these focus and zoom levels.

Of the 12 queens captured, 3 still have their wings.

As of today, I have had these nuptial queens in captivity for 43 Days.

I also captured a quick, but boring video by hand. It’s shakey but I am letting youtube do some stabilization. I’ll make sure I get my tripod out next time.

5.1.2017

An exciting update, we have Pupae with visible eyes and legs!

It’s been a few weeks since my last post as I got busy with a few other things and didn’t have the time to get the camera gear out. I could of observations. I have 2 test tubes that appear to be absorbing water fast that others, this is likely due to my inexperience of loading the tubes and I pushed the cotton too far. I will continue to monitor these tubes and prepare to move the queens if the water becomes too low.

And here’s the goods… 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL1y32uGNms

5.10.2017

Last week’s update was exciting, but this week’s update is monumental. 4 of my queens now have their very first nanitics! I fed a drop of honey to each tube with Nanitics and saw 3 of the four tubes have the nanitics ingest and feed the queen through trophallaxis. My first time to witness this and it was pretty sweet. It’s simply amazing how the ants just know what to do.

The tubes with lower water appear to be about the same as the previous week and I will continue to monitor it.

I also had one queen which had mold growing pretty heavily on the cotton, and sometime between last week and this week she didn’t make it. 

5.22.2017

Not too much to add here, colonies are growing, I have been giving drops of honey every 2-3 days, need to introduce some protein soon!
Single photo…

6.14.2017

It has been just over a month and a lot has been going on with the colonies that have been mostly self-sufficient since I collected them.

One week ago was the first protein I provided my colonies, each one received random bugs that I caught from my local area (pesticide free). Some had mosquitos,  colonies shared a cricket that I smashed and divided, and the remainder had fruit flies. Each colony accepted the food I provided and seemed quite pleased. up until this point, I had been feeding my colonies at a small drop of honey, at least once a week.

On an observation note, some colonies can sense/smell the honey as soon as I open the test tube and hold it near. They will begin to become semi-frantic and will quickly line up around the droplet filling their gasters. however I have one colony that seems completely indifferent to the honey – eventually, they will approach the drop, but it won’t happen until they are put away. I don’t know if each colony can have different personalities, but it is certainly what I am observing.

Last night I chose to change all of my test tubes since a few were running dry, some were dirty and some were getting moldy.

The process was quite simple and straightforward. I prepared new test tubes and filled them with RO water, then used electrical tape to attach both ends. then I set the old tubes on a heating wire and immediately the colonies began picking up the brood and began searching for a new location.   After about 45 min all the colonies had moved.  The colonies that did not have any Nanitics (ie – queen only ) took about 5 hours to fully relocate.

After the move I was surprised how large the brood pile actually were, many of them must have been hiding in the cotton. So everyone is fed and moved to clean quarters and things are progressing. I apologize for not grabbing fantastic photos of this process but I did snap a few of the large brood piles with my phone, enjoy! 

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Preventing the spread of Solenopsis invicta

Recently I was personally contacted by a Facebook colleague asking me if I would be interested in obtaining a Solenopsis invicta colony. Knowing this person lives in the north I immediately declined the offer and insisted that as Ant Keepers we are responsible for ensuring that our native habitats stay free of non-native species.

Although I currently reside in Ohio, I lived in Southern, GA for almost 5 years. I can personally attest at how aggressive and fast spreading this species can be.  To be fair – It’s very unlikely the Red Imported Fire Ant’s could successfully live through winters in the north, it is certainly possible for an indoor colony to have a nuptial flight and infest other local areas.

Solenopsis invicta; Young alate queen in the nest. Image courtesy of http://www.alexanderwild.com

RIFA in the United States

One of the reasons hobbyist enjoy keeping RIFA is the fact that they have incredibly fast colony growth and massive colony sizes. Colonies can grow to over 2 million individuals and from nuptial flight to adult worker ant it can be as fast as 30 days. First nanitics show only 10 days after the nuptial flight.

The picture map indicates regions in the U.S. that have identified a local presence of RIFA. You can see that the area is quite large and has expanded year after year.

Spread of Red Imported Fire Ants
The Red Imported Fire Ant, Selonopsis invicta has spread in the entire southeastern United States and has been slowly making its way further north, affecting some areas of Virginia.

Keeping RIFA in the Northern States

If you are a hobbyist I strongly suggest against keeping Solenopsis invicta in any of the northern states, including Ohio. If you have any intent on keeping invasive species you should take the proper precautions.

  1. Your ant enclosure should be completely sealed and you MUST have a secondary containment system. This is a requirement from the USDA and inspection may happen at any time if you legally obtained a permit.
  2. Just because a species may not over winter, there is chance they could affect other areas that stay warmer throughout the winter, such as Zoo’s, greenhouses, and power plants.
  3. You need to think about the chance of cross breeding with similar species.  The S. invicta x S. richteri hybrid currently inhabits some of the areas where S. richteri was displaced by RIFAs (Georgia, Tennessee).

The USDA specifically limit the transport of colonies across state lines to prevent invasive species from gaining a foothold in an environment without natural predators. If you are looking at importing nonnative species for scientific or hobby reasons you may apply for a free permit the USDA, a PPQ 526. I applied for a permit to import Myrmecocystus mexicanus exactly 3 months ago as f this writing and it is still pending.

Ant-Keeping Responsibility

We all need to be responsible ant-keepers and should take very precaution to protect our environments and our hobby. There are plenty of native ants in your area to keep you entertained, and most ants in Ohio, don’t bite :).

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Welcome to OhioAnts.com

Thanks for taking the time to visit OhioAnts.com. This site is dedicated to the hobby of ant-keeping within our Home state of Ohio.

Due to the rise of the easily accessible information the internet and popular YouTube channels such as Ants Canada the hobby of AntKeeping has exploded in the past few years. While the concepts of keeping ants are pretty general, each area of the world has different species and slightly different requirements for collecting and keeping each species.

Prenolepis imparis with first nanitics
Prenolepis imparis collected in Ohio on 2/24/2017

One of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of the hobby is acquiring your first colony. Some people don’t have the time, or the experience to collect their own queens and will look to purchase a colony instead. Many areas and states are well represented in the online community such as California and Florida and have massive markets for collecting and selling ants. However, due to laws in the US, it is illegal to transport colonies across state lines without a long and complex permitting process.

To help further and grow the hobby in Ohio – OhioAnts.com has created a fully featured and free classifieds marketplace for ant-keepers to purchase and sell ant-keeping items and live colonies. Please help support our states environment and local hobbyists by utilizing this great resource!

For those individuals looking at collecting their own queens (My preferred and suggested way of starting the hobby), we have borrowed the Ohio Nuptial Flight Chart compilation from one of our local hobbyists, Mike McBrien. While this is a great place to start we will be coming out with an enhanced, filterable version of this chart with the ability for other users to add first-hand information to keep the chart up to date.

We hope this site will become a resource for all Ohio ant-keepers and look forward to providing more information, tools and cultivating the community to support it.