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Orbyx's Tapinoma sessile Colony

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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.

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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!

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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: lsxCXshPlfQpRN4wrjcaUtNS31yaY6EyoajFVcMw

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.

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yeah you are about to get a LOT more queens, also they are from utah they probably wont need to hibernate and will produce all year round, tapinoma produce more egg laying queens over time so you will have a huge colony give or take within the next year or 2

 

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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. 

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Not to argue, but IMO most states north of south Alabama or Texas need hibernation. Because of the mountainous region Utah is in they have much of the same weather as us. Personally, I wouldn't consider Utah a "southern" state. But with so many queens it would be great to split it and see if you can get is year around. 

Best of luck,

Vex

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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. 

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I'm curious as to how you're going to prevent them from escaping when you move them out of the test tube. When I collected some workers of T. sessile in a jar with a screw-on lid, they just ran through the tiny space between the glass and the lid and crawled around my room (I was most unhappy!) until I put a piece of duct tape on the rim. Unfortunately, that made it air-tight! I've had the same problem with Monomorium minimum (one of my favorite species, too!) so I'd love to know how you solve that problem.

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