Raising my first Messor Barbarus colony

Questions from those who are just starting or considering getting into the ant keeping hobby. If you’re intimidated or confused by the in-depth posts of the other sections of this forum, feel free to post here, and we'll start from square one!

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Raising my first Messor Barbarus colony

Post: # 41952Post LowlandAnts
Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:29 pm

Hello there! I'm a Dutchman who recently acquired a colony of Messor Barbarus with 20-ish worker ants.

I've done some reading on this ant species and have learned some small tidbits observing my ants. I'm keeping the colony in a soil vivarium, and introduction went pretty smoothly. The workers immediately started walking around exploring the new territory, with the queen peeking out briefly before hiding back into the test tube. The workers quickly started digging away into the hole I had pressed into the soil, and two hours later I just barely caught the queen on tape as she moved into their new nest. Shortly after they started bringing in food and eggs.

I've so far noticed that they don't seem to drink sugarwater, and I've confirmed that they will outright ignore honeydew. They do seem to have a thing for pre-killed earwigs, but they don't eat much of it as of now. And every now and then I'll catch them carrying seeds into or out of the nest.

Now comes my question. What are the telltale signs that the colony is doing well? I can not look into the nest since it's a soil vivarium. Most of the workers seem to be hiding out in the nest currently, with about half the original amount of workers coming out in the morning, decreasing as the day proceeds. I've so far found 3 or 4 dead workers, but I haven't found any more than those since.

I'd be very thankful for any advice given by more experienced Messor keepers. Thank you in advance!

A Dutch ant keeper currently raising my first colony of Messor Barbarus.

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