ooper's Pogonomyrmex occidentalis colony (#1)

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ooper's Pogonomyrmex occidentalis colony (#1)

Post: # 1301Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:32 pm

I have a Pogonomyrmex occidentalis colony that is one year old. I will add posts here beginning at the test tube stage all the way through to its current state of about 100 workers.
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51 queens

Post: # 1349Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:22 pm

August 1, 2014
Collected 51 Pogonomyrmex occidentalis queens along a canal road near my house. All queens are now in test tube setups with one or two grains of grass seed from the original nesting area. I read that red harvester queen ants are semi-claustral, meaning they dig out a claustral chamber, but still forage on occasion for food during initial colony creation.
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Nanitics

Post: # 1350Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:24 pm

Sep 15, 2014
The first nanitics have arrived!
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First hibernation

Post: # 1351Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:28 pm

November 2014
I decided to put my small colonies into hibernation for the winter here in Utah, USA. I placed them in a closet in a room with little heat. It wasn't an ideal hibernation area. The temperature was probably around 65F (18C), but it was the best I could do. I would have liked to have them in an area that was around 50F (10C), but I did not have a spot that I could trust to stay close to that temperature. I didn't want to run the risk of freezing them.
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Out of hibernation

Post: # 1354Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:43 pm

March 2015
I took the colonies out of hibernation by allowing them to have heat via a heat cable. I only have about 20 colonies left from the original 51 queens. Several died during hibernation season and others died due to too much heat, mold, and other unknown reasons.

April 2015
I moved the most productive colony with 5 workers (several workers did not make it through hibernation), into a new formicarium where I could better control food, heat and humidity. This is the colony I will be tracking in this journal. It is my "Pogo 1 colony".
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Heat cable to accelerate colony growth

Post: # 1355Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:50 pm

April - May 2015
Pogo 1 colony grows from 5 workers to about 30 workers. I put a heat cable under the formicarium where the nesting spot is and it helped the colony grow quickly. Feeding was also made easier via the outworld
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The big move

Post: # 1356Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:09 pm

June 6, 2015
THE MOVE! It became apparent that the colony needed more space. There were several workers roaming aimlessly around the outworld and attempting to dig. It was time to provide them a new formicarium in which to establish themselves. I wanted to give them some dirt in which to dig a nesting space. I made a formicarium and outworld for them, connected it to the existing formicarium and within a 24 hour period, they dug a new nest and made the move.

I documented the move with several video segments.
Segment 1 (1:30 Digging the new nest): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0F4apzXOlM
Segment 2 (2:13 Workers carry young and brood): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDX10kC18lY
Segment 3 (1:21 Workers carry young and brood): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQSw7lNvVAs
Segment 4 (1:35 The queen emerges): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2Ags76BAU8
Segment 5 (3:25 The queen enters the new nest): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7meuUwnpAU
Segment 6 (1:09 A look into the new formicarium): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLmSQn0muMs
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Thriving in the new setup

Post: # 1357Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:19 pm

July 11, 2015
A little over a month in the new formicarium and outworld. The colony loves it! They are thriving beautifully. I have been feeding them pill bugs, cat food from a can and of course seeds/grains. They prefer the seeds/grains. I also have chickens and I decided to try feeding my red harvester ants some of the crushed grain that I feed my chickens. It was perfect! They carry it all into the nest and store it near the top and near the heat cable. I can see many of the larvae feeding on pieces of the crushed grains.

Here is a video showing the progress they have made.



A picture of the crushed grain I feed them.
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Progress in the new formicarium

Post: # 1358Post ooper01
Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:22 pm

July 20, 2015
Additional progress in the nest. Nothing really new to report, just a growing colony.

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Expanded nest space

Post: # 1378Post ooper01
Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:37 am

August 3, 2015
I expanded the nest space by adding a Hybrid nest. Hoping they will inhabit it soon. Quite a bit more excavation work has been done. Estimating around 100 workers. Anyone have a good way of determining how many workers in a colony like this? Obviously counting them is the preferred way, just not sure how best to do this.

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