Okinawa Pheidole

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BleedingRaindrops
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Location: Okinawa

Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 15273Post BleedingRaindrops
Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:41 am

Well, it's my first time raising ant queens and I caught my first two pheidole queens two weeks ago, and then two more just last week. I'm going to check on them every week and document their progress. For convenience I am naming them Ashley, Brittany, Chelsea, and Diane. None of them have laid eggs yet, but here they are.

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Ashley had already lost her wings when I caught her two weeks ago, and seemed pretty weak, but she seems happy and healthy now. She's the only one hanging out at the dry end of the bottle. I hope she's not trying to escape. Maybe I should feed her?

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I also caught Brittany two weeks ago, and she is almost as active now as she was then. She loves her wet cotton ball, and her wings are conforming around her, almost as though they're dissolving. Is that normal? So fascinating.

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I caught Chelsea a week ago. She also likes her wet cotton ball, though it has a brown stain that definitely wasn't there when I gave it to her. I hope that's not mold. She has the same soft wing oddity that Brittany has. I guess it's normal. No eggs from her or the others, but she seems healthy.

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Diane concerns me. She was moving around a week ago when I caught her, but she isn't now. Her wings aren't soft like Brittany and Chelsea, and she's curled up and isn't moving. Maybe she's hibernating because it's winter? I've never raised queens before so I'm not sure.

Anyway, that's my girls. I'll update this every week as they progress. I hope to move at least one of them into a formicarium next summer.

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 15274Post BleedingRaindrops
Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:44 am

Just realized I fudged Brittany's image link.
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I also caught Brittany two weeks ago, and she is almost as active now as she was then. She loves her wet cotton ball, and her wings are conforming around her, almost as though they're dissolving. Is that normal? So fascinating.

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 15444Post BleedingRaindrops
Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:26 am

A new queen joins the mix. Meet Evelyn.
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I spotted her while on sentry post today and scooped her up. A nearby colony freaked out after I picked her up though, so I may have stolen their queen.
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2440
Oops. Anyway, she is a mature Pheidole sp. queen without wings, so I'm really not sure how best to care for her, but I have her in a test tube right now until I can figure out what would be best. Let me tell you she is not happy. She is running around and around the cotton plug, trying to squeeze behind it.

Does anyone have any tips on how to care for a mature queen with no workers?

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 15484Post BleedingRaindrops
Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:52 am

Alright, week three with my girls and we have some sad news. Chelsea has died. I found her completely covered in mold today when I went to check on her.
Diane and Evelyn are still not moving but they aren't covered in mold so I'll just assume they're hibernating for now.
Ashley and Brittany are still moving about, though they tend to hide under their cotton balls when I hold them under the light.
No eggs from anyone yet, so I'm guessing they're just waiting until next year. I won't bother with photos this week since it's all pretty much the same until someone lays eggs. I am curious whether I should feed them honey at this point since it is week three without eggs.

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 15664Post BleedingRaindrops
Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:29 pm

Okay, so it's been more than a week, because I was away on Christmas leave, but I'm back now and there are some interesting developments. Good news and bad.

Bad News first:
Diane is now dead. I decided to try to move them all to test tubes so I wouldn't have to deal with the bulky water bottles I caught them in, and since Diane wasn't moving, I tried to gently nudge her off of the cotton ball. As soon as I touched her, her head fell off, so obviously dead. It was then that I noticed her gaster had turned white on the inside.
Evelyn is not moving either and her Gaster looks the same as Chelsea and Diane's did when I found them, so I'm hoping she's alive but it doesn't look good.

Good news now:
The heating cable I ordered arrived, so I have it heating one half of the drawer I'm now keeping my girls in. I was also able to move Ashley and Brittany into test tubes (it took more than an hour though, ants take a long time to make decisions)
Even better news, Ashley has laid eggs. I didn't notice when I was moving her, but as I was removing the moldy cotton ball from her old water bottle, I noticed a small white dot on the side of the bottle, that couldn't have been cotton. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a ball of several white dots. I was so excited, I carefully cut open the bottle, and with extreme care, delicately lifted the ball with a toothpick. I hope I didn't crush any eggs. I then removed the cotton from the end of Ashley's new test tube, and reached the end of the toothpick into the tube. She responded immediately, rushing for the end of the toothpick with her mandibles wide open. She plucked the little white ball from the toothpick, then carried it over near the wet cotton. she came back and carefully picked off two of the eggs she'd missed the first time, inspected the rest of the toothpick, then went back to her brood. I am so ecstatic! I thought they were going to wait until next year, but Ashley has given me a wonderful Christmas gift.
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I carefully inspected Brittany's old bottle for a little white ball, but found nothing. She has lost a wing though. Very interesting.

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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 15680Post antscanada
Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:21 pm

Amazing and detailed journal! I will definitely catch up on this and read it. Keep up the great work and please do keep us updated on the ants' progress!

Happy new year!
Ant Love Forever.

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 15748Post BleedingRaindrops
Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:53 am

Okay, update. I would normally update on sundays but my schedule is funny for the next two weeks so I won't have time.

Not a lot of news this week, but one small announcement is that Evelyn is in fact dead. I found her covered in mold today when I went to check on my girls. Which means I'm down to Ashley and Brittany, the two queens I caught on November 27th of 2016. Crazy that the first two queens I ever caught would be the only two to survive. Maybe they just knew the proper time to leave the nest. Who knows.

Anyway, not much has changed. I do not see any eggs from Brittany yet, but considering I can't see the eggs that I know Ashley has, it's possible that I just can't see them. Both of them are hanging out at the wet end of their test tubes, so I guess they really like the moisture.
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Here's a video of my girls https://vimeo.com/198314705
AntsCanada wrote:Amazing and detailed journal! I will definitely catch up on this and read it. Keep up the great work and please do keep us updated on the ants' progress!

Happy new year!
Wow, thanks so much. That means a lot having you personally respond here. So cool.

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 16024Post BleedingRaindrops
Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:00 am

Week seven and no new developments. I still cannot see eggs in either test tube and I refuse to pull them out and closely examine them, though both Ashley and Brittany seem to be doing well. The heating cable I have plugged in for them feels cool to the touch though, so that worries me a bit. Perhaps it is defective. I will have to order a new one. Any suggestions?

Being that Both Ashley and Brittany are looking well, and there is no sign of mold for either of them, I am going to leave them alone for the next two weeks, and see if there are any developments then. I hope to see some nanitics by the end of February

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 16178Post BleedingRaindrops
Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:57 pm

I said I wouldn't update this week but I was curious about my girls so I set up a red light and carefully pulled back the black towel covering them.

Ashley is curled up next to the wet cotton. She is still moving, but I am very concerned. She still has plenty of water so perhaps it is because the heating cable doesn't seem to be working? I hope she's not too cold. The new heating pad should be here soon so I hope she can last that long. She has been doing so well.

Brittany still looks fine, still has her one wing and still has not laid any eggs.

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BleedingRaindrops
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Re: Okinawa Pheidole

Post: # 17290Post BleedingRaindrops
Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:22 am

Update. The heating pad I ordered last week arrived, so I have it heating my two queens, Ashley and Brittany. They don't seem to like or dislike the new heat source, so I am testing it based on the advice given in the Antkeeping handbook: warm to the touch, but not hot. There are still no visible clusters of eggs, which concerns me a bit. It has now been 12 weeks since I caught them. I wonder if it is because my roommate likes to keep the room so cool. I hope this new heating pad will allow them to produce eggs soon. If after 13 weeks I see nothing, I wonder if it would be appropriate to offer them a small speck of honey.

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