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Orbyx

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  1. 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
  2. They're up to about 30 workers already! and more on the way. People weren't kidding when they said Crematogaster are fast growers
  3. Looks like we have larvae! So, things are moving right along! They develop sooo much slower than some of my other ants, but at least they are happy right now.
  4. Yeah, and Utah covers a bit of latitude. I'll probably do something like what you suggested and split the colony and test it out. Or watch their behavior. I already threw away the box and I forget what city they came from. I just got excited at the thought of a colony that didn't need to hibernate.
  5. Aaahhhh, I didn't even think about that! They ARE from a southern state! No hibernation would be interesting. Might be a good colony to split for those of us who want year round ants. I'll have to see how they behave around fall/winter.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. I was able to grab this pic: like I said, a PILE of eggs
  9. Oh my gosh, that's so great! I wish I would have thought of that for my queen box!
  10. Alright, trying to get caught up with updates: My experimental test tube setup was a success! I'll explain in more detail when a catch a founding Ponera queen in a few months and really put it to the test (I'll start an official journal then) - but I basically unrolled half a cotton ball and ran it down the length of the tube as I did a normal test tube setup. I then made sure the cotton was wet all over and hoped it would stay wet since it's attached to the reservoir. So far so good! I also sprinkled in some reptile sand for giggles since all my ants seem to like it. While this setup makes it a little difficult to see eggs - you can clearly keep an eye on the ants which is nice! I've been feeding them soft bodied moths from my house (Indian Meal Moths) but recently switched to wingless fruit flies with great success. They even hunted the live flies! I dump a few in every other day half smushed/half live. I'm guessing cut up wax worms would also work well (soft bodied) and they are usually for sale at any place that sells reptiles. Oh, I also have a heating cable at the front of the tube like all my setups and they seem to avoid it. So, they probably don't even need it and room temp is fine. My goal with this setup is to make something that anyone can easily replicate and where the ants are easily view-able. So, far I'm meeting that goal! Now to confirm that it works for founding queens...
  11. It looks like everyone has a nice pile of eggs now! Most sources say it takes 2-3 months to go from egg to worker for this species, so not much will probably happen until June or July.
  12. 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!
  13. Any day now the nanitics should come in! I noticed a few slightly darker looking pupae yesterday and today I saw this: I'm so excited!
  14. I'm not surprised by that. Like I said, they actively avoid smooth surfaces. I'm experimenting right now to see if I can come up with a modified test tube setup for them. Otherwise, if you want to have them, you'll need to provide them with some kind of "natural" setup. My colony seems to like what I'm providing them.
  15. 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.
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