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  1. 4 points
    It's only been a week, but a few things have happened! It looks like all the queens have dropped their wings, and one colony already has a tiny pile of eggs - but it was hard to tell with 3 queens all smooshed together. However it looked more like eggs vs pulled out cotton. I know it's still a bit of a wait until workers arrive, but I'm glad to see they are feeling comfortable!
  2. 3 points
    I think it's always neat to see how people approach raising ants. Since it's spring and everyone should be out of hibernation now, I thought it might be a good time to start a thread where we can show off our setups. I'll start: I mainly have founding colonies right now, so this is what i'm working with. I took a few lids off so you can see inside. The uncovered box and red box have C. pennsylvanicus and the blue has F. subsericea. The other boxes are waiting for my Crematogaster queens to get nanitics. The heating cable is a 15W reptile heating cable that fits nicely under the tube/outworld connection and provides a nice heat gradient for the ants. You can also see it going into my queen box at the top. The P. imparis queens are also in the queen box in slots a little further away from the cable. (Yes, the boxes are re-purposed butter boxes covered in origami paper.)
  3. 3 points
    WARNING: ELECTRICITY CAN BE AND IS DANGEROUS. IF YOU'RE A CHILD, PLEASE DO THIS WITH A PARENT. IF YOU'RE AN ADULT, PLEASE TEACH YOUR KIDS ELECTRICAL SAFETY, AND THIS IS A SIMPLE PROJECT TO GET THEM INTO MAGIC. BLACK MAGIC. THAT SAID, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY INJURY CAUSED BY ELECTRICITY, CUTTING TOOLS, HEAT, HOT GLUE, SHARP EDGES, HURT FEELINGS, BUG STINGS, ETC. I'M ASSUMING THAT IF YOU DECIDE TO FOLLOW THE FOLLOWING, POORLY-WRITTEN, ROUGH GUIDE, THAT YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH/HANDY ENOUGH/EDUCATED ENOUGH TO NOT HARM YOURSELF DRASTICALLY, AND ARE DOING SO AT YOUR OWN RISK. PLEASE BE SAFE. Full disclosure, I did a terrible job documenting this, so I'll explain in as much detail as possible. My work space is my small bedroom, so... yeah... Here's my original mock-up in SketchUp, which was basically just me putting my ideas down on (screen) paper. It didn't quite turn out like the design. Obviously it's missing a lid. And the fan. And two fins. But I digress. BEGIN! Materials List: 1/4" clear acryllic (I bought an 18"x36" sheet from Lowes) Thinner like 1/8" acryllic (This I found lying around) 5gal bucket (Doesn't matter what it looks like, at long as the diameter is 12") 12" brewer's funnel (Or whatever 12" funnel you can find) Bought on Amazon 1" PVC Blacklight/UV LED strip Bought on AliExpress I bought the waterproof, 5m, 120LED strip. More powah. Keep in mind this will take quite a while to arrive. Like. At least a month. Electrical stuff (I'm an Electrical Engineering major and do EE work, so I had all of this lying around from other projects) Wire (Red and black 18G wire used) Heat shrink (And something to heat it with?) A 12V AC-DC converter. Pretty common with a lot of electronics. Something like this, I just cut the plug off and spliced it into the wire that is attached to the LED strip (Eventually) A fan of some sort, probably a computer fan (Eventually) I'll find a lid or something that fits it (Eventually) Connectors for easy connect/disconnect Cut Things So you have your funnel and bucket? Good. Now we get to the fun work. Not really. I've never worked with acrylic before, so before I go any further, I recommend having them (Lowes, HD, wherever) cut the 1/4" sheet into at least the approximate sizes that you'll need. I did not have a good time. So, my original design called for 4 fins surrounding a 1" PVC tube. Well, I decided to go with two fins, and I'm not sure why. You can add two more fins to your design, if you want. It's a free world. BOOM! Here's the base. Some 1/4" acrylic terribly cut into ~12" x 1" strips with notches made to rest on the rim of the bucket or funnel, then 1/4" wide slots in the center of each strip, that span HALF of the width of the strip (1/2") You'll slot these together, and weld them together into a plus sign using acrylic welding adhesive. Then hot glue them together because you had a lot of trouble cutting the notches and they're not very clean. You want 2 of these. As you can see here, I attached several small pieces of 1/8" acrylic to each strip of 1/4" to act as slides or brackets or doohickies. Basically, the 1/4" acrylic fins that I (and hopefully not you) cut out will slot into these for support. Cut More Things Now cut the PVC to length. I cut mine to 18" which I ended up thinking was too long, but ended up working out splendidly. When that's cut, start wrapping the PVC with the LED strip. Leave a little room on the end you start on, enough for a hole to be drilled near the end of the strip. Great. Now drill some holes near the ends of the strips, and fit the loose wires from the strip through them, so they're sticking out of the PVC ends. Once that's done, you'll want to line up your previously done acrylic cross with the bottom of the acrylic (and the bottom is entirely up to you, use your judgment) and figure out where you'll need to notch the PVC so the cross can slot into it. Then weld THOSE together. And again, hot glue them because you did literally everything so far with a Dremel multitool and it's not pretty. Now for the top. As you can see here again. What I did was make a 1/4" rectangle that fit into the top of the PVC, then weld some 1/8" strips to it for the fins that you hopefully didn't cut yourself to fit into. Then, more hot glue to keep it in place. MAKE SURE THAT THEY LINE UP WITH THE STRIPS AT THE BOTTOM. THE FINS NEED TOP AND BOTTOM SUPPORT. Now, if you're a masochist, you need to cut the fins. I think mine ended up being 5" x 18" by 1/4". If you cut it yourself, I HIGHLY investing in a jigsaw/jigsaw blade for cutting acrylic. The score and snap didn't work for me at all, so I ended up cutting it out with a plastic cutting bit and my Dremel. Not very precise, makes a lot of mess, and smells funny. Much like children. So now you have (2) or (4) fins. Make sure they fit. Then make sure they fit again. If they fit, if your base mount sits on the funnel/bucket, then congrats. You've graduated to doing some simple electrical modifications. The Black Magic Known as Electricity So the LED strips run on 12V DC power. Your house's electrical outlets are nominal 120V AC. I'm not going to explain the difference here, but needless to say, your LEDs won't get along with your electrical outlets, so DON'T just stick the wires into an outlet or something. I'm planning on making this design 100% portable with a car battery (which is 12V DC) but haven't yet, that's for the future. So the following instructions relying on an outlet or available extension cord. The first step I took was to splice some wire into what comes attached to the LEDs. Pretty simple, strip the wires, slide some heatshrink over the wires, twist exposed copper/aluminum wiring together, slide heatshrink down, heat it up, and repeat. Watch a YouTube video if you're unsure, it's really pretty easy. Next is basically the same thing, but you're using the 12V AC-DC adapter that you bought/found/stole/made because you're a prodigy untrained Electrical Engineer. Make sure you slide heatshrink over the wires BEFORE you twist them up. Otherwise, you know, no heatshrink. Again, pretty simple. Cut off the circle plug, strip the wire cover, strip each wire, twist, heatshrink, boom. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND TOUCHING THE WIRES TOGETHER AND MAKING SURE THE LEDs LIGHT UP TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE NOT BROKEN. At this point, you should have a solid piece of wire attached to an adapter that plugs into an outlet. So go ahead. Test it. If you did it right, the LEDs light up and you're set. It's just a matter of putting it all together. If they don't light up, then you either did something wrong, or the LEDs dun broked, because they're from China. But equivalent strips from Amazon would be 40+ dollars and you're cheap. But that's okay. I'm cheap. Anyway, if you've got a multimeter, you probably know how to check your circuit with it, so I'm not going to explain that. If you don't have a multimeter, just undo everything you did, then check to make sure the lights work after each step. You could've messed up the splice, the heatshrink, gotten the wires switched (RED goes with RED. BLACK goes with BLACK). If nothing works, you can message me and if I notice, I might be able to help you. FIN There you go, you're a proper DIY'er. Everything should sit levelly (ha), your edges should be neat (ha), and you're completely uninjured (ha). Like I said, I intend on making this completely portable and will update when I get that far, as well as any modifications I make between now and then. IF you decide to go the battery route, you want to make sure have several Amp Hours (like 5+, and more is better). I have a car battery lying around, so I'll end up using that. Notes: I use a piece of 550 paracord to hold the contraption to the bucket firmly. You could very easily use a bungie cord, but I'm handy with knots and didn't have any bungie lying around. I painted everything white. If you decide to do this, use a plastic paint (Krylon Fusion I think is what I used) and make sure it's WHITE so it reflects the light. Also, make sure you painters tape over the LED strip. You don't want that getting paint on it. I plan to add connectors to the wires so I can go between battery and AC-DC adapter whenever. I also plan to add a fan. The strip has wire on both sides of the strip, so I should be able to wire a fan into it. The point is to blow anything that gets too handsy with the LEDs or fins into the funnel. Also, the LEDs can get warm, so some airflow would be good. Here's the full album of pictures I took. Again, I only have a little room to work, and I'm only one person (I think) so I didn't document everything as well as I would have liked. If you have any questions, message me via the Discord, ideally. I'VE MADE SOME MODIFICATIONS About time, me. So I finally made the time (by that I mean procrastination on studying for my exam. Stay in school, kids) to modify my trap to accept power from a car battery. I did so with plugs. Lets begin! Step 1: Cut and strip wire. Step 2: Create the battery plug extension. Just showing how the plugs all go together. Wire goes into red waterproofing plug, then into the header. Crimp the plug holder. Now, you have two options; Crimp the header onto the wire, or solder it. After trying to crimp them, I learned the hard way that the final product isn't very nice. So on a whim, I soldered them. Much, much nicer. Nice and clean. You'll need to do this for two male headers and two female headers. Then you insert the headers into the appropriate housings. Pictured is the male housing. Step 3: Insert fuse. This is pretty important. On the off chance anything goes wrong, the fuse keeps things from blowing up, setting on fire, etc. In this instance, I'm using a 3A fuse, because my measured current draw from the LED strip is 1.5A, give or take. When I add the fan, I'll need to put in a larger fuse. Easy enough. NOTE: FUSES GO DOWNSTREAM. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT YOU NEED TO PUT IT AS CLOSE TO THE POWER SOURCE AS POSSIBLE. I HAVE ONE FOR THE BATTERY AND ONE FOR RESIDENTIAL POWER, ON THEIR OWN PLUGSET. You'll need to eyeball this, because you want the length of the positive wire you cutout to be the same as the fuse holder. KEEP IN MIND THE WIRE YOU'LL NEED TO STRIP, OR YOU'LL END UP TOO SHORT. Step 4: Create some loops with the non-plugged ends of your wires. I soldered the connections and heat-shrunk it just for good measure. Don't get your positive and negatives mixed up. Also, learn from my mistake and check to see if the negative post on the battery is smaller than the positive. Or else. And I think that's it. It's pretty repetitive stuff, but be sure to do it as neatly as possible, electricity isn't anything to mess with. I also used the opportunity to make an extension cord with some extra plugs, just in case. Things I bought: Fuse holders. Make sure you buy equal or smaller wire gauge. (By smaller I mean if you have 18, you need 18, 20, etc) Plug kit Make sure it's the 2-pin, and if you opt for another product, do make sure it's waterproof.
  4. 3 points
    I've never kept a colony journal before, so I am super excited to start one now! I have had a couple of Formica subsericea colonies for over two years now, and I would like to paint you a picture of the life of my favorite Formica subsericea colony. I only know rough dates from the past, but as I update the journal I'll try to be more specific! March 21, 2017 On this day I caught my first ant queens! Well, technically I had caught queens before but I had no clue how to raise them. This year, however, I was ready. This day, in particular, was the first warm day above maybe 60 or 70 degrees in March and really felt like a true spring day. Under a couple of rocks in a flower bed right next to some woods on my property, I found two Formica subsericea queens and two Lasius parasite queens. They had likely all been under those rocks since the end of autumn as it is common for both of those species to over-winter before laying eggs. April 25, 2017 I have waited a month to check on my queens, and both Formica queens have around 4 to 6 larvae now! I can't wait until my first nanitics hatch. Also, I took this time to feed both of my queens a drop of honey. I know it is not necessary, but the queens were drinking from the honey even before I put the cotton ball back on the test tube. May 20, 2017 Both queens have their first nanitics! I checked on them at just the right time too, as the nanitics were both still light-colored and shakily moving around. It is interesting to see how closely both queens followed the same schedule even though they are separated. They both also laid a second, slightly larger brood of eggs about a week before the nanitics eclosed. At this point, I attach an Ants Canada Test Tube Portal to each of the tubes to act as a mini outworld. The only food I feed them is honey and crushed fruit flies, once a week. I have noticed stark behavior differences in the queens though. One is extremely upset whenever I check on them and even rushes out of the test tube in a fright. The other queen, however, seems to barely even notice my presence. May 29, 2017 I notice the nanitics venturing out of the test tube for the first time. At this point, the "skittish" queen has around five workers, and the other has four. July 17, 2017 Development is going nicely, the second clutch of eggs has finally hatched bringing the colony count of each colony up to about 10 workers. They no longer seem afraid to forage during the day and tend to send a larger number of workers out when I feed them. Late November 2017 After August, development really slowed down and I did not notice any more eggs being laid even though there was still brood in the developing stages. By mid-October, all of the brood had eclosed and colony activity diminished substantially. I decided to put the queens into hibernation the first day I noticed the ground was frozen. I kept them in my fridge set to 37 degrees for most of December but moved them into a smaller mini-fridge set at ~40 degrees. Early March 2018 On the first Saturday of March, I took my queens out of hibernation and they were both doing well. It took them about a week to work their appetite back up but they started eating ferociously and liked eating meat more than ever before. I attached a larger outworld setup to both of their Test Tube Portals and started feeding them a mix of superworms, bologna, apples, and honey. Summer 2018 Development is happening much slower than I expected. Both colonies have maybe 30 workers at the peak of Summer, but surprisingly the number shot up to maybe 50+ for my "Oblivious" queen. Foreseeing a huge growth in population, I moved them into a Tar Heel Ants Discus formicarium. Sadly, my "Skittish" queen refused to move from her test tube when I noticed they were hollowing out the cotton ball holding back the water. A few weeks later of them not moving, and I work up to a whole bunch of dead brood and ants, reducing the colony to maybe 10 or 15 workers with no brood. At this point, it was already late in the Summer, and the queen laid no more eggs that year. November 2018 I put both queens back in hibernation when I noticed the first snowfall of the year. This year's hibernation was much less stressful because I knew they had survived the same conditions last year so I was confident they would survive this year's hibernation. March 1, 2019 I brought my queens out of hibernation! They both are doing well, and I am eager to move my "skittish" queen into a new Tar Heel Ants Mini Hearth I got for Christmas as I did not trust them in the test tube anymore. March 13, 2019 Both of my colonies are doing great, although it seems only seven of my "Skittish" queen's workers survived hibernation. They both have been eating a ton of protein however and have very similarly sized brood piles which surprised me given the differences in colony size at this point. I am also noticing more repletes being formed in my "Oblivious" queen's colony. (Pictured) Also, my Skittish queen finally moved into the Tar Heel Ants nest and they seem to like it much better than their test tube. I hope they can get back on their feet soon! April 2, 2019 Both colonies have amazing piles of brood and larvae! Maybe 30+ so far. My "Oblivious" colony is really starting to look like a typical colony I would see in the wild, with many workers just milling around in the Outworld. I can't explain it, they just act like a more mature/typical colony. They even seem to move more confidently. My "Skittish" colony is not doing too great and only has 3 workers at this point. I have never had a colony drown themselves in honey before, but I have already lost three workers in the past two weeks from them falling in. I am doing nothing different from the other colonies and I don't know why this is happening! I have resorted to giving them a little bit of honey on a stick every few days. I can't wait until their new brood pile starts to hatch and they can get a decent amount of workers back to stabilize the colony and help it grow. "Oblivious" Colony: One drawback to the circular nest is that it is extremely hard to get good lighting in any photo. "Skittish" Colony: (Condensation on the glass makes the brood pile hard to see, but there is a substantial amount of eggs and larvae there.)
  5. 3 points
    Introduction So, you want to keep ants, have the space for it, and are ready to go, but have just one question: how? This is the guide for you! At its most basic, to have an ant colony you need: A queen A nest A foraging area Some food A place to hibernate them in the winter If it seems pretty basic and easy, that's because it is! Now, there are a lot of different ways to go about obtaining each thing and different people have different opinions. My goal with this guide is to provide enough information to get started and be hopefully successful with any kind of ant. However, different species can have slightly different requirements, so be sure to read up on the one you specifically have! Queens Can't have a colony without a queen! To get a queen you can wither 1) buy her or 2) catch her. 1) Buying a queen If you are looking to buy a queen, there are resources like the Ohio Ants Marketplace and the Ants Canada GAN Project that can hook you up with people selling queens or more established colonies. Typically, when you buy a queen she also has 10 workers and some brood. Queens can be a bit picky when they are starting a colony and can actually eat their brood if they are disturbed too much before this point. But, at about 10 workers, the queen and ants seem to transition out of founding mode and into colony mode and are more resistant to disturbances. If you buy a queen, make sure she is native to Ohio. Ohio Ants has a list of native ants and Ant Maps is also an extensive resource to find out what native ants are. To be clear transporting queens across state lines or importing queens in ILLEGAL and can result in hefty fines or jail time. Plus, if non-native ants get loose, it can be an ecological disaster. Look no further than the invasive fire ants of the American south. 2) Catching a queen This is the exciting part! Different species fly at different times of year , but here are general rules of thumb: Once temps get above 60F, generally sunny days after some rain are good times to look You can look anywhere! Sidewalks are your friend! It's much easier to spot a queen on smooth white surface rather than a leaf pile. If you find a queen and she has wings, she is less likely to be fertile (I think I've heard some people report it's about a 30% chance of fertility). The exact size and shapes of queens can very from species to species, but compared to workers queens generally: Are overall larger In proportion, larger thorax since she has wing muscles and will also have wing scars (little ridges towards the front) In proportion, have a larger gaster This picture includes one of the larger queens around: Camponotus pennsylvanicus. Not all queens are this big, but that's still the general shape you're looking for. Once you find her, scoop her up and take her home! A Nest What a nest is for your colony will change as they grow. It will start out as 1) a single, dark, moist chamber for a queen to lay her eggs and eventually transition to the classic 2) formicarium with many rooms and tunnels. 1) Founding chamber/first nest The easiest an most common initial home for your queen is the test tube setup. You'll need: Test tube (Cheap on Amazon) Cotton ball Q-tip (or similar sterile thing) water Now to assemble: Rip cotton ball in half Fill tube with water somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way full Take half of cotton ball and insert into tube Use Q-tip to quickly ram cotton ball into water. If you go quick, an air pocket won't form. If you get an air pocket, it's not the end of the world though Gently pat cotton ball down with Q-tip until it is completely moist Add queen Seal entrance to tube with dry cotton ball. Once you are done you should end up with something like this: In the wild, queens dig out small chambers like this to start laying their eggs in. Moisture is important for the development of the eggs and is provided by the moist cotton. As the ants develop, drier areas might be preferred and the queen might move them towards the drier cotton side. Ants know better than you how to raise their young, so it's always good to give them options! Giving the queen a small room with a moist end and dry end lets her do her thing. And as you can see from the picture, this even works for large queens, like C. pennsylvanicus. Now you place her in a dark area and leave her alone! You'll want to check your species, but many queens (fully cloistral ones) do NOT need to be fed during this time. Feeding them might even stress them out. They will be digesting their now useless wing muscles to raise their brood and get food once the first workers arrive. Semi-cloistral queens still like to forage, so you'll want to do the same setup, but instead of stealing the tube to cotton, attach it to a small foraging area. Depending on the time of year you collect her and the type of species, you might see eggs in a few weeks or several months. Eventually they will develop into workers and once the first workers arrive (nanitics) you can give them a foraging space and start feeding them! As the colony grows, they will require larger and larger space. There are many sizes of formicariums available to purchase and you can also try to make some yourself! Each formicarium should have a "recommended number of workers". You don't want to give your ants something too large since they can't properly maintain it. One strategy is to buy a larger formicarium, but fill a lot of it with sterile sand or dirt. That way the colony is originally restricted to a small area and can dig out what they need in the future. A Foraging Area At it's most basic, a foraging area is a place outside the nest that you put food in for them to gather. These are referred to as "Outworlds". It can be a simple as a tupperware container to as complex as you want it to be. Unless you want a natural set up, anything dry that the ants can't escape from will do. You want it to by dry to discourage ants from nesting there. Otherwise, there are plenty of options for 1) containers 2) decorations and 3) ant escape barriers. 2) Containers Really, anything will work - as long as it's clean. I mean, I wouldn't recommend an old gas can, but as long as you like looking at it and you can modify it in a way that works for you, then it's good. Tupperware containers, old glass jars (food jars), and critter carriers are common choices for containers. 2) Decorations Tile grout is probably the most common base to use since it's cheap and can give some weight to your outworld. This will help keep it still as you attach tubes or other things. You can also press things into the grout as it dries and the grout will keep them in place. For decorations, once again, you can use about anything as long as it's clean and dry. If you grab stuff from outside, you might want to dip them in some hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to kill off any annoying bacteria for fungi. I personally like to use decorations from the pet industry (fish & reptiles) since they seem like a pretty safe bet and give a nice "natural look". 3) Ant barriers There are two main categories of barriers for ants: a) stuff they can't walk over and b) stuff they physically can't get through. a) If your container doesn't have a lid, then you need some kind of barrier your ants can't walk over - the slip off. Popular options are Fluon/PTFE (teflon) or a mix of rubbing alcohol and baby powder. Both mixtures can be applied to the last inch or so of your container and both have to be REAPPLIED as your ants dirty them up. They both have the same idea of making a slick surface that ants can't walk on. However, different species have slightly different feet and what works for one species may not work for another. You'll have to check your specific species. Rubbing alcohol and baby power can be found at a local grocery store and Fluon/PTFE can be found here: https://www.bioquip.com/search/DispProduct.asp?pid=2871A. b) If your container has a lid, then you can poke a hole in it and glue screen/mesh over the hole. This keeps the ants in, but lets air though. The size of mesh you'll want to use depends on your size of ant. Here are some outworld examples: Re-purposed cosmetic jar: Critter carrier outworld (mesh glued to inside of lid, you can see the old fluon barrier I'm going to remove): Food Now that you have a foraging area, what food do you give your ants? Really, you just need to provide them with two things: 1) Protein and 2) Sugar 1) Protein Beyond just needing protein for life, protein = eggs. Ants prefer insect proteins, with crickets and meal worms being easy to acquire and commonly offered. Any pet store that has reptiles will have crickets and meal worms at a minimum. A meal worm colony is also super easy to maintain - but that's for another time. Some ants will also eat nuts and seeds for protein, so feel free to experiment. Word of caution though - insects from outside are generally not recommend since they might have pesticides on or in them that can harm the ants. But if you're in a pretty chemical free area, you may not have problems. Regardless of what protein you pick, you can give too much, so it's better to control how much and when you give it to your ants. Too much protein can build up in your ants and shorten their lifespan. To address this, people generally give a little protein every few days, or a lot once a week. In the early stages, a cricket leg might be enough for your colony, whereas later one you might need to throw a few crickets in there. 2) Sugar All sugar all the time. Always make sure your ants have a sugar source or are not out for very long. Common sugar sources include: honey (sometimes watered down), sugar water, humming bird nectar, and maple syrup. You can place small drops of honey on wax paper for starting colonies if you are worried about them getting stuck in it. Once a colony has a bit of workers, this isn't as much of an issue and you can use shells, milk carton lids, water bottle lids, or really anything that acts as a small bowl. There are also specialized feeders for ants like this one: https://www.ohioants.com/product/galileo-liquid-ant-feeder-feeding-kit-byformica/. Hibernation OK! You caught a queen, raised some workers and now it's fall. What do you do? Well, you live in Ohio, so you need to simulate winter. This part is completely natural and necessary for the ants and if you don't hibernate them, the queen may die early. Ants generally start slowing down anyway in the fall due to their own internal clocks, even if you have them in a warm space. To hibernate your ants, isolate them in their nest (detach it from the outworld, etc.) and move it to an area that can be around 40-50F in the winter. Common choices include: part of an unfinished basement, garage, or a wine cooler. Once your ants are in hibernation, let them hibernate! They're just like bears and sleep though winter. They don't need food or anything else, just a quite, cold, dark space. A good time to hibernate is from November to March, but different species need different hibernation lengths, so check your species. Once spring comes around, you can take your ants out of hibernation and let them wake up. If your ants look dead don't worry (yet)! Ants have a lot of defenses against the cold, and sometimes, it just takes a while to wake up. I've heard of some peoples colonies taking up to two weeks to get up and running again. So, like many of use, some colonies just aren't morning people. Ending And there you have it! The basics of ant keeping. I hope you find this helpful and feel free to ask any questions! I'll help out where I can. Happy Anting!
  6. 3 points
    Hello all! I'm a new ant keeper in the Dayton area. I've always wanted my own ant colony and can finally get into the hobby. I don't currently have any colonies, but I have a lot of queens hibernating that I caught in the fall of 2018. I'd like to have a Crematogaster colony and a Prenolepis colony since they are so different lifestyle wise. I love being outdoors and this hobby gives me the motivation to hike around. So, I plan to catch any queen I see and provide them to a good home. ? I'm also a biology instructor and my specialization is in Ecology, which makes ants super fascinating for me to study.
  7. 2 points
    Last year I wrote a basic primer on how to blacklight queen ants. It is located here if you haven’t seen it and are interested. Following that I received many requests for details about the materials and methods I used aside from the general reasoning and approach that was explained. In other words … everyone wanted to know where to get the stuff and how to do it the way we do it! So here is a follow up post to explain to those interested exactly how to make what we use. The entire setup will cost you about $200 and can be bought and made in an afternoon. Here are the supplies you need … - T12 blacklight bulbs x 4 - $13 each or about $50 total ( https://www.lowes.com/pd/GE-40-Watt-48-in-Medium-Bi-pin-T12-Black-Fluorescent-Light-Bulb/3400504 ) - Shop Light Fixtures x 2 - $20 each or about $40 total ( https://www.lowes.com/pd/Lithonia-Lighting-1233-Linear-Shop-Light-Common-4-ft-Actual-5-5-in-48-in/1000410165 ) - Full height (like 6’) garden “Shepherd’s Hooks” x 6 - About $13 each or about $80 total ( https://www.lowes.com/pd/Garden-Accents-84-in-Steel-Painted-Metal-Shepherd-s-Hook/3342788 ) - White flat Twin sheets x 4 - $5 each or $20 total ( https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mainstays-200-Thread-Count-Twin-Flat-Sheet-ARCTIC-WHITE/55583603 ) - 1” PVC pipe (10’) x 2 - $2-3 each or about $5 total ( https://www.lowes.com/pd/Charlotte-Pipe-1-in-dia-x-10-ft-L-200-PSI-SDR-21-PVC-Pipe/1000080801 ) - 1” PVC coupling x 1 - damned near free ( https://www.lowes.com/pd/LASCO-1-in-x-1-in-x-1-in-dia-Coupling-PVC-Fitting/1067437 ) - Duct Tape - Extension cord(s) Step 1 - Duct Tape FTW !! You need to duct tape the two light fixtures together. USE A LOT! Make sure you tape the fronts and back and ESPECIALLY the ends. The photos below look a little ragged, but this unit has been outdoors all the nice days for a year now. Yours will look cleaner. Step 2 - Prep the Fixtures The fixtures will come with some cheap chain meant to hang them with. Instead of using it the way they intend, drill 4 small holes in the 4 corners of your new (now duct taped) single fixture. Divide the chain in two and create two “loops” with it as pictured below. This way you can slide it back and forth and adjust the angle of the light super easy. Step 3 - Get Your Sheets Together Arrange two sheets end to end and two more end to end below them. We take the time to sew these together now. But when we first started we used Duct tape and that works fine. Similarly, we sew a cuff in the top of the sheets to slide the PVC pipe through (like a curtain) for more easy hanging. But you can also just duct tape the sheets to the PVC if you prefer or if you are sewing impaired. Step 4 - PVC Easy Mode Plug each piece of PVC pipe into the coupling creating a 20’ long pipe. DO NOT glue it or you’ll never be able to easily move it. Attach your sheets to your PVC pipe with a sewn cuff or duct tape. Step 5 - Stake Your Claim Find your blacklight sweet spot and plant 4 of your Shepherd's Hooks in a row about 4’ apart. Have the hooks facing TOWARDS where your lights will be. Step 6 - Hang it Up ! Rest your PVC frame over the Shepherd’s Hooks. About half of your sheets will be laying on the ground. That is intentional. Step 6 - Let There Be Light Plant your last two Shepherd’s Hooks just at the edge of the sheets on the ground about 6’ apart and hang your light (via the two “loops” of chain) between them. Plug it in and you are GTG. If you want, you can secure the sheet to the ground with little spikes. Photos below are the completed set up, the set up at dusk, the set up at night and the set up from 100 yards away. This thing draws queens from a mile away.
  8. 2 points
  9. 2 points
    My favorite native species would be Trachymyrmex Occidentalis, although it’s extremely rare. Next would probably be pheidole for the fast growth and polymorphism
  10. 2 points
    Alright, in my hopes that one of use will be super lucky and catch like a dozen Pheidole for us all, here's everything I know. Feel free to add anything and I'll update! There are four species of Pheidole in Ohio: P. pilifera, P. bicarinata, P. dentata, and P. tysoni. Queen size: 5-8mm, it's hard to find exact numbers, so be sure to measure them so we can update info! Pheidole pilifera Queen: Workers: P. pilifera is the most widespread species in Ohio and is therefore probably the one we might have the best chance catching: http://antmaps.org/?mode=species&species=Pheidole.pilifera Habitat: Prefers grasslands, but can be found in forests. Nests in open soils or under rocks. Flight Info: Flights start the last week of June and go until the end of July. They fly during the day IMMEDIATELY after heavy rain. If you wait longer than 30 min, you might miss them. They don't seem to fly after rains during the night. Notes: They are granivorous, so you will need to feed them seeds along side sugar and insects. The majors will mainly stay in the nest to "mill" the seeds. http://www.antwiki.org/wiki/Pheidole_pilifera Pheidole bicarinata Queen: Workers: Probably the second most "common" Pheidole distribution wise, so we have also have a good chance of catching them: http://antmaps.org/?mode=species&species=Pheidole.bicarinata Habitat: Pretty diverse nesting sites, but prefers sandy soils or disturbed areas. Flight Info: Flights start the last week of June and go until the end of July. Likes hot humid days and has been found swarming around porch lights at dusk. Diet/Care: Can harvest seeds, but eats most everything. The majors are "braver" and will leave the nest to help break apart large insects or meat. http://www.antwiki.org/wiki/Pheidole_bicarinata Pheidole tysoni Queen: Workers: Rare and probably restricted to south east Ohio: http://antmaps.org/?mode=species&species=Pheidole.tysoni Habitat: Seems to like open, slightly sandy soils. Flight Info: Unknown Diet/Care: Rarely harvest seeds, might tend aphids. http://www.antwiki.org/wiki/Pheidole_tysoni Pheidole dentata Queen: Workers: While they exist in Ohio, they are exceptionally rare and we probably won't find them: http://antmaps.org/?mode=species&species=Pheidole.dentata Habitat: Likes rotting wood. Flight Info: Unknown Diet/Care: Just insects and sugar. http://www.antwiki.org/wiki/Pheidole_dentata
  11. 2 points
    Claustral is a term that you will see being used very... very... commonly. there are three types of queens. Fully-Claustral, Semi-Claustral and social parasites(which are basically spicy semi-claustral queens) Fully-Claustral Queens, Fully clausteral queens are the classic queen with no need to forage or eat until a couple weeks after nanitics eclose from their first pupae. Fully clausteral queens have large full, long gasters which are very oval like in shape, along with being a lot bulkier than semi claustral queens. Fully clausteral queens actually have smaller heads since they need not fight during the founding stage and just wait it out till their workers can forage and put on their big girl pants. Fully-Claustral Queens, do NOT forage during the founding period and just wait out the founding stages caring for brood, This is a lasius species queen and you can see the smaller head along with the large thicc gaster being able to metabolise the wing muscles to feed her brood and to fast for many a months. Semi-Claustral Queens, Semi clausteral queens are BORN with their big girl pants on. Have small gasters, a generally thinner body, have a larger head filled with muscle to forage and fight during the founding stage as they do not have the reserves to be able to wait out the founding stage and must forage in order to feed the brood and herself. This is a semi claustral Pseudomyrmex apache species native to florida which is clearly semi claustral due to the thin body shape and is distinguishable from a fully claustral queen due to the thin physique and thin gaster, with the larger head Social Parasites Social parasites are several species of ants that do not have the instincts to care for brood, some more than others, the most common social parasites are Lasius and Formica parasites. Parasites take over colonies by killing the queen and taking the workers for herself and laying her own eggs and her workers outnumber the other species and eventually becoming a colony of only the host species. Social parasites cannot care for brood and have small bodies with long legs for speed and agility and large heads due to the fact they need to be able to win a fight against other queens so they must be well equipped to fight instead of raising brood. Formica parasites are easier to raise than Lasius parasites as Formica parasites are able to open pupae when Lasius are not able to care for brood whatsoever. Often Social parasites have smaller gasters due to the fact that can be a weak point for them in combat
  12. 2 points
    Posted Feb 23rd, 2019: I've always wanted an ant colony and finally got to a place in my life where I could have one - my own house and a spouse that's fine with it. After looking at the various common and uncommon species around, I decided that I want my main colony to be a Crematogaster sp. I love their little heart butts and that they are commonly two tone. It's just a personal preference, but I don't want just little black ants (sorry C. penn). A Pheidole, Prenolepis, and Trachymyrmex colony also sound awesome to me, but they are much harder to find around where I live. I started learning about the hobby in August 2018 and I figured that I had missed the window to catch a queen and would have to wait until spring. But to my surprise, the ant I wanted was just about to have a nuptial flight. So, I started reading up on when they should fly, good weather conditions, time of day, etc. I have an ecology background, so learning about and finding a species comes naturally to me. Then, on Labor day (Sept 3rd), the weather was perfect and my spouse was off work so we went to the local parks. Oh boy, did I nail the timing. I ended up catching SEVEN queens that day. [INFO: Sunny warm day after a rain, around 11a-12p. I also saw the beginning of a nuptial flight a few days later a little before 11a, so that seems to be the good time window.] I was so excited to have them. Two of them have wings and five do not, so I should be able to get what I want and give away the extra queens. Win-win for everyone! Once I got them home, I put them in test tubes and built a box to keep them in. It might seem like overkill, but I live with parrots soooooo gotta keep the queens safe. I took them to the unfinished part of my basement and checked on them weekly. Once thanksgiving came around, I moved them into the garage on a wall that goes into the house. I checked on them every few weeks and everyone is still alive. The first weekend in March, I plan to move them inside and then give them heat starting spring break (March 11th). I can't wait to start raising them! Update: March 5th, 2019 I brought my queen box inside over the weekend. Since I moved the box, I dimmed the lights as much as I could and had a piece of red cellophane in hand to check on the queens real quick. It looked like everyone was alive, which is great! I'm trying to disturb them as little as possible since they are in the apparently super-fragile-founding-stage. I waited a few days, then checked on one queen to get a quick photo: It's going to take everything I have to only check on them quickly, once a week. I'm so excited! Update: March 24th, 2019 Time for an update! One queen has died - but it was one of the queens with wings. I wasn't expecting her to be fertile, so I'm not surprised. The other queen with wings hasn't laid eggs either and I don't expect her to. However, the other five have laid piles of eggs! I was finally able to get some pictures recently: That's probably all the photos I'll get until nanitics arrive. I usually only uncover a queen for a few seconds during a check. The few times I tried to get photos, I gave myself 1 min to do it. I think in the future once I have an established Crematogaster colony, it would be cool to catch queens again and be more bold with picture taking for an "Ant Care/What to expect" type of documentation. I am currently very concerned with stressing them out too much and having them eat their eggs - especially since I've heard Crematogaster queens are particularly sensitive. I noticed eggs around March 11th, so by my count, I'm hoping to see nanitics in about 2 weeks (around April 8th). However, I have no idea when they first laid eggs, so it could be sooner! Note: I combined my posts from the old forum into one just for ease of transfer. In the future I'll post updates as a reply to this topic.
  13. 2 points
    Well, apparently I have a Tapinoma sessile colony now ? This all started April 29th, 2019. I'm starting up my mineral/fossil collection again and ordered something that came from Utah. When I grabbed the package out of my mailbox, I noticed there were some ants on it and under it. This seems to happen a few times a year, so I brushed them off and carried the package inside. Once I got the package inside, I opened it and, oh boy, was I in for a surprise. Ants everywhere! Clearly, this was different from just some ants in my mailbox. I started gathering them as quick as I could so I could get an ID. When I was gathering them, I noticed there was more than one queen and they were VERY integrated into the package. I was immediately concerned about a polygynous, non-native species and a queen left behind in my mailbox. I was extremely relieved when they were ID'd as Tapinoma sessile. While there is a good chance that, genetically, they are from Utah, T. sessile is native to all the contiguous 48 states. I also have a ton of 'em in my yard. So, since there's a fun story behind them, I decided to keep them. Plus, I was already a little interested in them since they're also known as an "immortal" ant colony due their reproduction strategy. Fortunately, the package was small, so I could put everything in a bucket lined with fluon and put a test-tube setup in there. Over the next few hours, I'd slowly remove packing peanuts and paper. There wasn't too much left when I went to bed. When I woke up, they were all moved in! There's 2ish queens in there and a TON of brood. I think there's more brood than workers, so they have their work cut out. With the trauma of what they went through, I wasn't 100% certain how they were going to do, but I set them up with an outworld and gave them plenty of honey. They immediately formed a black ring around it and drank it up. Over the next couple weeks there was a bit of worker die off, but their numbers have stabilized now. I'd say about 25% of the workers died off over the first week, then no more. I wasn't certain how much to expect, but this seems reasonable with what they went through. Otherwise, they are very active and fun to watch. I think their numbers are about to explode though: so...many...tiny...eyes! There's waaaay more pupae compared to anything else, but there's still a sizable pile of eggs and larvae cooking. I have more outworlds and formicariums lined up for them whenever the boom happens. I've given them access to two test tubes, but they're keeping everything in the original one for now.
  14. 2 points
    I'm not much for journals. But I'll give it a shot. Narien and I were working on our new black light "catch us a C. americanus and C. castaneus" set up when I got a PM from Orbyx asking for an ID on this photo. It looked like C. nearcticus to me and I confirmed that via Discord. Then I joked with her to grab the queen for us because she knows our #1 goal is to keep all of Ohio's Camponotus species. A few minutes later my phone dings ... "I think I found the queen." She then explained that this colony was in her wood pile that they need to use. The colony had to go anyway. So she sent me her address and started scooping the colony into a 5 gallon bucket that she hastily lined with fluon. By the time we got there, (8 minutes and 17 "holy shit's" later) she had just about the whole colony in there with minimal casualties ... but no queen. All that was left was a small rotten knothole with a few ants in there. Sure enough, as it was dissected away, the queen was found ... unharmed !!! Orbyx said we probably got 90% of the colony and brood. We cleaned up some stragglers and rushed home to get these ladies set up ASAP because the stress of such an ordeal on a colony is immense. Fortunately we had a couple of set-ups about ready to go because we are about to move a couple of founding colonys to formicaria. Bing-Bang-Boom and they are settled. They explored the set-up almost immediately and began to move into the tubes within minutes. By 2 hours they seemed very calm and content with minimal movement or activity. It sure seems that they are happy and will do well. And looking around ... we see very VERY few casualties. Our estimate is that this colony is about 300-350 strong right now with tons and tons of brood. (see first pic) A mature C. nearcticus colony should cap out at only a few hundred workers. So this is a dream for us. We are absolutely ecstatic and have nobody but Orbyx to thank. Her generosity and consideration towards us is only surpassed by her care and attentiveness to this colony that she gently and efficiently collected for us. Thank you and ant love forever. We will update this log as time goes by. Below is the first video.
  15. 2 points
    Like many people, I want a Winter Ant (Prenolepis imparis) colony since they have such a different life strategy compared to other ants in our area. They are active in cool temperatures, polygynous, and have repletes, which will make them a nice contrast to my other ants. I really want a 3 queen colony since I like the number 3. Well, yesterday Dork (Dayton) on Discord sounded the alarm that he found a queen at a local park. [INFO: Day after light rain, about 67 F where we were.] I immediately rushed over and started hiking around. I thought place he found a queen was very unusual based on what I read about the species, since it was more of an open manicured lawn area, but there were some large trees around. I assumed she had traveled a fair distance and my gut told me I should at least take the time to check the wooded area before furiously searching the area known to have a queen. A few moments later, BAM, I walked into a nuptial flight in the woods. It was very exciting and I messaged the others at the park right away for them to come over (whether they read the texts or not in a timely manner is up for debate ?). There were so many drones in the air, at times I was afraid to inhale strongly. And then I saw them, the much sought after queens. The first few I saw still had their wings and looked like they were just waking up. Since this was a flight, I figured it was in everyone's best interest to only catch queens who were in the act of mating or queens who have dropped their wings. And sure enough, nearly every queen I saw with wings eventually made her way into the sunlight and flew off. There was one queen however who was acting weird and I was very surprised when her wings suddenly popped off like she hit an eject button. Naturally, I scooped her up right away. Over the course of the flight, I caught 3 queens in the act of mating and 2 without wings. The two without wings I put into the same holding container and they eventually settled down and stayed by each other. The 3 with wings I ended up leaving in their holding container with their drones for a few hours just to make sure I didn't interrupt anything. At the end of the day, Dork gave me his queen to care for that way we can both have a 3 queen colony. When I got home, I put everyone in their appropriate starting tubes, which let me tell you, is an ORDEAL. But at least now they are safely in my queen box and will hopefully lay eggs soon. All cozy together: Two 3-queen starting tubes:
  16. 2 points
    I'm re-posting here cause Discord Main gets buried FAST ... My son, Narien, is a senior and for his Spring Break he wanted to drive to FL and look at subtropical ants. So we did. It was a blast. But we learned some helpful stuff about Pheidole. There are a TON down there so we saw dozens and dozens of colonies. The mounds look almost exactly like all the Lasius mounds you see but they are a bit larger and higher. BUT ... the Lasius almost always have groups of mounds with many entrances and the Pheidole ALWAYS had a single entrance. Also, when disturbed, the Lasius usually don;t even respond. But move one grain on the Pheidole mound and you get majors in seconds. Thus endeth my entire knowledge on this genus. But that should help those trying to ID colonies prior to July.
  17. 2 points
    Nanitics arrived 3 days ago - April 22nd! I was so excited that I only took this photo as I set them up with a micro-outworld and food. Still took a couple days for them to start going outside, but yesterday they finally emerged and got their first sugar and protein! There are 8 nanitics now and they are about half the size of a normal worker. Still a huge pile of brood cooking too! Can't wait for the real workers now!
  18. 2 points
    I agree, looks like she could be a ponera queen
  19. 2 points
    Alright, my time to shine. My name is Daryn, and I am a Cincinnati local. I've been in the hobby for, well, about a year now. I went a bit nuts last year and really got into the hobby, buying books, doing hours upon hours of research... I've got a few hundred other hobbies, including, but not limited to, electronics, leatherworking woodworking, fish-keeping, succulents, carnivorous plants, guitar, ukulele, upright bass, knives... uh... I'm probably forgetting some things. I'm an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Cincinnati and I work at an engineering firm when I'm not in class.
  20. 2 points
    I was able to configure and add another new feature to the OhioAnts community. We now have a member map, accessible through the community tab in the main menu. The community map will give the options for member to place their general location to let others in Ohio know who is in their vicinity and hopefully encourage growth in the hobby. Please do not post your home address, town, or suburb is more than enough. Additionally in the future as we are able to geo locate some images will will also be using this same map fro placing collection locations of colonies or queens. Enjoy!
  21. 2 points
    This is an amazing feature and I hope to see it fill up soon! There’s not many people near me but I hope to use this in the future
  22. 2 points
    Hey everyone, my name is Mike, I have been keeping ants for 3 years and my favorite species is Prenolepis imparis. I am the site administrator and the developer and designer for OhioAnts.com and OhioAnt's products. I am excited to be a part of our local community and am enthused to be not only a contributor to the quickly growing hobby of ant-keeping, but I am also looking forward to the collection of data for contribution to scientific study, and advancement of entomology in Ohio. I am a professional web developer of 15 years and have been married for over 16 years and have 3 children. I have a bunch of experience and other hobbies, that include advanced betta breeding, guppy genetics, guitar/bass, and flying drones. I'm looking forward to meeting others in our great state and really expanding our hobby!
  23. 1 point
    This project is wonderful and will be greatly beneficial to the community. I can't wait to participate!
  24. 1 point
    Hey Joshua! Lots of people have been finding P. imparis queens in the past few days. Good rules of thumb are to look near bodies of water and near wooded areas and trees. Queens can be found by looking under rocks, lifting leaf litter, and watching large areas of blacktop/concrete for queens scurrying along the ground. Prenolepis imparis queens are polygynous, and if you find any more queens you should put them together! Put at least two queens together per test tube and they will be happy, but most people will put 3-4 queens together if they can. Try not to just leave one queen on her own, as they prefer to be in groups.
  25. 1 point
    I'll definitely be keeping a sharp eye out, @Mike McBrien
  26. 1 point
    Yes I actually do have both a favorite native species and a favorite exotic species. Native: Solenopsis molesta, I just cant get enough of the large colonies and explosive growth (for native species) Exotic: Daceton boltoni, I just love the shape of their head and the fact that they dont suck to keep unlike most other odd looking/shaped ants. Their colonies get relatively large, as do their workers. queens are upwards of 23mm, I hear they are up to 29mm while their larger workers are up to about 22mm (smaller workers are like 4-6mm)
  27. 1 point
  28. 1 point
    If you don't plan on hibernating your ants or won't have a solid plan in place by October, release them now, please. It is enormously important for the health, comfort and flat our survival of your colonies and proper hibernation is every bit as important as proper feeding. If not hibernated properly the BEST case scenario is they will survive, not lay next year and the lifespan of your queens and workers will all go down dramatically. After laying dozens or hundreds or even thousands of eggs during the Spring/Summer/Fall, your queens need (and deserve) a rest. Nearly all native Ohio ants need to be hibernated. Opinions on the ideal temperature vary. But most agree that 40-45 or 40-50 seems about right. However, it is not as simple as putting them in the fridge at 45 degrees when November rolls around. Ants survive winters, sometimes in extended sub-freezing temperatures because they create a “biological anti-freeze” that makes their hemolymph (similar to our blood) unable to freeze at temperatures that they normally would. This substance is called glycerol and is biochemically manufactured. This means THEY NEED TIME to prepare and produce this. Pop them in the fridge at normal fridge temperatures and they may die in hours. But if you give them a few weeks to get ready and let them prep their hemolymph with glycerol, they get their well-deserved snooze. There are two basic ways to hibernate your ants … outdoor and indoor. Irrespective of what method you choose, they should be insulated with a towel or the like and will not eat. But they still need water. If they are in a test tube and the water is low, switch them to a fresh one before hibernation. And if they are in a formicarium, you will still need to hydrate the nest every couple of weeks. The outdoor way is to let the natural environment give them the cues that winter is coming by moving them to an unheated garage, basement, crawlspace, etc. Do this weeks before it will get cold … October 1st is a good target here. They will sense the temperatures dropping and be ready when it gets really cold. If you choose this method know that even these areas sometimes may get too cold on polar vortex days or the like. So monitor the temperature and be ready with a space heater for an hour or so here and there if need be. The other method is an indoor hibernation. You can accomplish this with a fridge, or even better, a wine fridge/cooler. Most regular refrigerators have a max temp of 40-50. Even at 50, that’s a shock to go from 75ish to 50ish suddenly. It is far better to have a dedicated fridge or mini-fridge that you can start around 60 or so. The way to do this is to prop (and secure) the door open somewhat. Testing of this PRIOR to hibernation is ideal. Then you can close the door a little more each week so the temp drops little by little. Testing on our mini-fridge told us to leave it open 12” on week 1, 6” on week 2 and 3” on week 3. On week 4 we closed it on it’s highest temp setting. This provided a temperature decline weekly from 75 in our ant room to 60 then 55 then 50 then 45 on the sequential weeks. This year out of 30ish queens/colonies, we only lost one parasitic Lasius queen who did not appear well before hibernation to start with. And all colonies are booming. The HUGE advantage a wine fridge/cooler has is that the max temp setting is far higher than that of a regular fridge or mini-fridge. So you can just put them in there, set it at 60 and lower the temp each week without messing with propping the fridge door open. We wish everyone the very best of luck this Winter. Get your hibernation plan in place NOW !!!
  29. 1 point
  30. 1 point
    1 - It is rare that we ever even do that unless the logs are going to be trashed or burned or whatever such that anything living there will be killed anyway. We will roll logs and lift stones, but rarely break apart stuff that isn't doomed already. That said, we take every opportunity we have to go through "doomed" wood whenever we can, have done it a bunch and have many queens and founding colonies to show for it. 2 - I realize that I am kinda "militant" about this stuff. But, remember, when you trash a log you are destroying a microhabitat that is a very limited resource and environment in many ecosystems. And if you've ever done it, you've seen just how many organisms depend on rotting logs. So you are displacing multiple species and reducing the lifetime of that log as a home from 5+ years down to one. That’s an 80% reduction! 3 - If you're going to do it, IMO, you will kill queens if you swing a claw hammer like that video shows. Besides, if the wood is so tough that you need that degree of force, it's not rotten enough for a founding queen to set up shop in anyway. You might find established colonies in tougher wood, but you're not going to get those queens very often anyway and will likely just stress or kill the colony. You want founding queens ... stick to the superficial rotten wood that comes up easy with the flick of a pocket knife. We generally slide a pocket knife into a seam and gently twist or lift. Work the surface of the log and leave the deeper stuff alone. That way you destroy less habitat and leave the rest of the log to rot again next year. 4 - If you see that huge scatter of ants, STOP! (unless the log is doomed anyway) That’s an established colony and your chance of getting that queen is pretty low. She will be deep and protected. Or you may be in a satellite colony if it’s mature such that she’s not even there. Another good “stop sign” is majors. If you see majors, you KNOW there are at least 100 workers in that colony. In other words, it’s NOT a founding colony and, hence, your chance of collecting it and getting the queen is considerably lower. 5 - Campos are not like other species. They don’t do the “Formica freakout” when uncovered. When a founding Campo queen is exposed, she will often just sit still or bury her head in the most concealed part of the remaining chamber. And if most of her cell is intact, she will almost always just “hide in plain sight”. Her workers will scatter. But they will also come back if you leave the queen there. Be patient. A typical Campo founding chamber from the previous year will have 6-8 workers in the Spring, 15-20 in the Summer and 30-35 in the Fall. If the queen is staying still, get the workers first. They are critical. 6 - If the logs you are looking through are small, carry them to concrete before picking through them. When workers scatter, you can cup them easily and collect them later. And a queen will almost NEVER disappear into the leaf litter when on concrete. Right? 7 - If you are working over leaf litter, bring a large bin. We use a 1’ x 2’ tupperware container to put under wherever we are working. So when you lift up that bark and ants fall out, they fall into your bin and not the leaf litter nether. We also bring a fluon lined 5 gallon bucket. If ants fall in the bin, dump them into the bucket and pop the bin back under your work area. It’s MUCH less likely the queen drops into the “leaf litter oblivion” that way. Also, that 5 gallon bucket is perfect to place a large piece of wood with ants all over it so you can go though it later when you’re not freaking out about all the ants scattering. And ALWAYS put the queen in a snap cap or cup and NOT in a big bucket. Protect her. 8 - Speaking of the queen, I would never, EVER use forceps on a queen. Even soft tip forceps can cause mortal injuries. The queen usually isn’t in freak out mode and, frankly, it’s just not necessary. Take your time and gently pick away the surrounding wood while making sure if she falls, she goes in your bin or onto the concrete. If she runs, just block her towards your container or cup her if you are able. We bring toothpicks and Q-tips to coax queens out. We also often have used those maple tree “helicopter seeds” as little brushes to bring them out of their chambers. Blowing into the chamber is a good way to agitate both workers and queens to get them to show themselves without having to “dig” them out and risk injury. 9 - We all love ants and we all want to find and collect any and all we can. But, remember, experts estimate that only about 1% of all queens in a given nuptial flight survive through the founding stage. That means every time you collect a solo queen who’s walking around after her flight looking for a place to found, you only have a 1% chance of actually preventing a successful future founding colony. It’s a small risk. However, if you collect (or accidentally destroy) a founding colony, there is a 100% chance of preventing a successful future founding colony. It’s 100 times the risk. If you really love ants, keep that in mind before breaking out the claw hammer on every rotten log you come across. 10 - Instead, talk to people about “doomed wood”. If you ask around, you will be amazed at the number of friends, family and co-workers who have wood piles that are doomed. And the vast majority of folks are happy to allow you to come over and look. Picking through these actually puts you in the position of savior. If you don’t pull those founding queens and colonies out of there, they will be discarded in a dumpster or burnt alive in a fireplace. It’s a great feeling.
  31. 1 point
    They're up to about 30 workers already! and more on the way. People weren't kidding when they said Crematogaster are fast growers
  32. 1 point
    Apr 10 looked under rock and found colony 20 or so strong found queen and captured it the moved them into a tubs and tubes set up Apr 16 make a grout nest and left ants to move in over night Apr 17 came down to the nest to see the queen had been moved in and they officially had elected it their nest
  33. 1 point
    They've been hard to count, but I think they topped out at 17 nanitics before the gen 2 workers started coming in. They're up to around 25 workers now, it's getting too difficult to count exact numbers. They're growing quick! Looks like that will be up to 30 within the next few days. I've noticed that once they pupae start darkening, they hatch within 3 days. Good thing I have more living space lined up for them! They've also been super fun to watch. Light doesn't seem to bother them, and the queen and brood will commonly be in the light over the heating cable. I'm hoping to be able to get a lot of nice pictures once my new camera comes in. They are also very active and not afraid of anything. Heck, they've attacked my honey dropper as I'm trying to give them food ... and then just start drinking once they realize it's honey making it extremely difficult to not drown them as I give them more food ?Super feisty, 10/10 will catch more queens. Definitely my favorite ants.
  34. 1 point
    While I wasn't originally interested in keeping Ponera, after learning about their unique life style and that their colonies stay very small, I became interested. After looking around, it seems like people have an extremely low success rate raising queens and they're generally considered a pain. So, challenge accepted. Yesterday, I went anting in my yard, hoping to find some Ponera just to get more familiar with them. I did find some and noted I only found them underneath things. Then I cracked open an acorn and found a colony. I had an idea for a Ponera habitat and figured now was a great time to test it. So first, the home I built: (Note: I don't have pictures because I was working fast and ponera are hard to photograph) I took one of the jars I use for my micro-outworlds (~ 2 inch cosmetic jar) and drilled a whole about halfway up for a connecting tube, just in case. Next, I put a layer of sand and aquarium rocks in the bottom, to act as a water reservoir. On top of that, I put a layer of 50/50 reptile sand and peat moss. The only reason I did this was because I'm hoping the sand lightens the color of the substrate enough that the ants are easy to see. Otherwise, they don't seem to like pure sand. Next up, I put a thin layer of soil from the outside - this has several little white bugs/aphids/springtails that I am hoping will inoculate the soil and provide some extra food. Plus, I'm hoping it smells like home and helps them transition. On top of the soil, i placed a piece of clear plastic that I cut into a ~1.5 inch circle and put a rock on top of that. With this setup - I'm hoping they nest under the plastic, and when I lift the rock I can see them. This also serves another purpose: I can pour water in as I see the sand at the bottom dry out and the plastic will funnel the water towards the sides of the container. Now for my observations: Ponera can not handle smooth surfaces. Like at all. Absolutely can not climb on glass or plastic and will actively avoid walking on it. When I was collecting them, I put the split acorn on a small plastic lid and was hoping they would scatter so I could grab them. They were swarming all over the acorn, but refused to go on the plastic. If one did fall on the plastic, they were not thrilled. Sometimes they would walk normal, other times they would fail around like they were having a seizure. I legit though they were reacting to something, until I realized that 1) I've had other ants on this plastic with no problem and 2) they just couldn't get traction. They even behaved this way on dry reptile sand. So, housing them in 100% sand or on slick things is a no go. Which gets me to: I am confident, not only from what you read but what I saw, the traditional test tube setup will NOT work for these queens. I think starting/keeping them in something like what I built will work, and I'm still trying to think of a modified test tube setup that will work. I have a few ideas I'm going to test out with the colony I now have and will let you guys know if I come up with something that works. And by works, I mean something where you can see the queen and brood and they still feel comfortable. Let me know if there's anything you want me to try! They are fine with a 50/50 sand peat moss mix. The colony has been happily digging tunnels in the setup I gave them! I was worried it would contain too much sand, but clearly they are fine. They are gathering under the plastic a little, but they seem to like digging tunnels more right now. They might move to the middle as I add water. We'll see. I did have a spot of pure sand in their habitat, and even though it was wet, they didn't walk on it. Once I removed it and replaced it with dirt, they immediately started exploring that area. So, I don't know if I'm going to push the blend of sand/peat moss much further. I can see them well enough now, although it would be nice if their substrate was a little lighter. There might not be anything I can do about that though. They will eat small, crushed moths. I have small moths in my home (Indian meal moths). I read that ponera mainly like soft bodied things, so I figured I've give it a try. I cut the moth in half and threw it in. They liked it! I've also read of colonies eating wax worms, so I think as long as it's soft, or the insides are accessible, they'll like it. And that's all I have for now! I'm hoping this at least gives some more insight into this ant and we can become more successful with keeping them.
  35. 1 point
    Just a quick heads up. There is a new forum category setup that points to our Gallery section of the website. This section is designed for you to upload your photos of ants for sharing with the community. The goal is to create an album for each species and get as much community involvement as possible to curate and fill the albums @Orbyx and I have already started populating the P. imparis gallery as an example. I hope to see more users contribute to the gallery and make identifying ants easier for everyone!
  36. 1 point
    Hello All, Posting my Colonies here as an initial introduction and will continue to update in the comments below as needed! Camponotus Penn #1: Housed in a TarHeel Ants Mini Hearth. Currently moving into a TarHeel Ants Fortress Type III. Moving Photo: Camponotus Penn #2: This Colony is housed in a test tube currently. I plan to move this colony into the free Formica-antfarm I won in a giveaway. In the process of making an attachable outworld first! Camponotus Nov #1: First of three. This colony is smaller and started as a single queen that my mother found while grilling out. They are the spoiled colony of the bunch as I cannot have my mothers colony fail! Camponotus Nov #2: This colony was caught with around 10-15 workers. This colony has filled out the current formicarium and is up next for an expansion. Looking for possible solutions now! Camponotus Nov #3: This colony was caught with ~50 workers and has since exploded. The egg laying for the spring has been slow so not sure about the growth for this colony this year. I have since doubled the protein feeding since I noticed this. (From one cricket/Superworm to two each feeding.) Prenolepis Imparis: This colony was caught with ~10 workers in a stick while hiking with my family. This is an unconfirmed identification but I believe this is the correct ID. Feel free to comment below if you believe it is different! Formica Subsericea: This colony was brought up from a single queen. They are egg laying machines and this colony will explode in size this year. Going to need to create more living space soon. These are my colonies as is! Will hopefully be gathering more and expanding my species variety! CincinnatiAnts - 04/14/2019
  37. 1 point
  38. 1 point
    the one that says 8mm found in april appeares to be a myrmica species which is semi clausteral so do some reading on that i might make a thread on it soon
  39. 1 point
  40. 1 point
    thats tapinoma sessile 100% i see them everywhere
  41. 1 point
    Thanks guys. We did do a leg and antenna count afterwards and identified no injuries. Even that "deathneckclamphangonfordearlife" warrior lady was fine.
  42. 1 point
    Be willing to wait! Pupae can take up to 3 weeks to "Hatch."
  43. 1 point
    a good note to add is that pheidole in the northern us prefer to live in wood as well and yes they are very defensive they like their fortifications XD i have found 2 colonies so far nesting in wood and none in the dirt thanks Forest
  44. 1 point
    This colony was rescued from certain annihilation.
  45. 1 point
  46. 1 point
    I somehow missed your question! Both formicariums shown are Tar Heel ants products. One is the Mini Hearth, and the other is a Discus Formicarium. The Discus seems to have more surface area but is maybe 1/2-2/3 the high of the Mini hearth.
  47. 1 point
    Thanks for starting this forum and starting the discord about ants. Can't wait to see what you catch this year!
  48. 1 point
    Welcome, looking forward to hearing more, and since you are my closest Anter, perhaps we can meet someday and do some searching!
  49. 1 point
    Hey OhioAnts world, I am Vex and am from the Toledo area. I love ants and cannot wait for the anting season to start! I currently have 1 Camponotus novaeboracensis founding queen, 1 Camponotus Pennsylvanicus founding queen, 1 Lasius neoniger founding queen, and one Formica subsicara queen. I can't want to catch more this year! My queen dream list for this year includes: Trachymyrmex septentrionalis, a large wild colony of Camponotus, Crematogaster, Aphenogaster, and Ponera. Can't wait to share my knowledge and learn a lot on this forum! Vex
  50. 1 point
    This is fantastic, thanks for posting!
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