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Orbyx

Orbyx's Prenolepis imparis Journal

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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:
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Two 3-queen starting tubes:
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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!

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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.

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Looks like we have larvae!

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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.

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