New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

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Catbug
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:03 am
Location: Leeds, England

New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

Post: # 55166Post Catbug
Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:22 am

Hi guys and gals!

I'm totally new to this forum but I plan to become an active and involved ant keeper in the future, so, nice to meet you all!

Too long to read version: New formicarium and queen. Maybe 12 hours old. All workers are already digging out the nest area but queen is just perfectly still inside the test tube on her own. Is that okay? Is she okay?

Long version: Parcel arrived yesterday night. I have a 'large' starter formicarium from anthouse.es and a messor barbarus queen with maybe 10-15 workers.

I set up the formicarium as per instructions I've read online etc and included a heat mat with a thermostat set to 22 degrees C as it's winter in England and they're Spanish ants.

By the morning the workers are already clearing out the nest area but the queen is just completely still, alone in the test tube. Sometimes a worker visits her but that's it. I've put her test tube under cover and put the formicarium under a red filter. I've put out some seeds and some maple syrup with protein syrup mixed in.

Is the queen okay? Is she going to die? She seems very still and alone with all these busy workers digging out the new area...

Here are pics of my setup...

http://imgur.com/gallery/lhdt2Nv
Newbie with a new messor Barbarus colony.

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UnrealSparks
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:45 pm
Location: Turin

Re: New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

Post: # 55167Post UnrealSparks
Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:16 am

Hi there and welcome! Always happy to see new excited members!! :D

I have two Messor Barbarus colonies which are currently resting at 13°C in my garage. Since you received them not that long ago I'd give some time to the queen and see if she or her workers decide to do something and complete the move.
Maybe she still feels safer in that test tube, expecially after the journey (and being covered makes it even safer). Leave it like that for a couple more days though, let her rest. And don't stress her too much by checking on her frequently. Is this your first ever colony by the way?

Oh and one last thing. Did you use black tape to cover the expansion holes? Because you could plug a cotton wool in both of them to let a bit of air come in from the sides and I think it would also look a bit more natural. :)
Keeping the following species:

- Messor Barbarus
- Pheidole Pallidula
- Camponotus Barbaricus
- Lasius Niger
- Lasius Flavus
- Lasius Emarginatus

Catbug
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:03 am
Location: Leeds, England

Re: New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

Post: # 55170Post Catbug
Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:56 pm

Hi, thanks so much for your reply! :D

Yes this is my first colony so I am very new but I have tried to totally nerd out and read everything I can but ants seem to be so changeable and particular that there is no 'one rule fits all'. I also have a zoology degree so I know a bit about ants from that too.

I have come home to find that the workers have built a huge funnel around the entrance like a volcano roughly half way up outside the nest area. They have been very very busy! I didn't know these guys would build a funnel... they're going to struggle to carry in large stuff in the future now.

The queen is still in the tube close to the water end and seems to be huddled up, not dead. Maybe with a worker or two. I'm keeping her covered with paper and the whole formicarium covered with a red filter.

I will use mesh at some point but I own a cat and don't want him tugging the cotton out. I do own some mesh and aim to do it over the next couple days.

After a few days, maybe a week of leaving her what would you do? Tip her out onto the top of the funnel? I don't want to stress her so I'm only checking once every 8-12hours.
Newbie with a new messor Barbarus colony.

Catbug
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:03 am
Location: Leeds, England

Re: New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

Post: # 55183Post Catbug
Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:18 pm

I've also just noticed that the funnel the workers are making has holes too small for the queen to fit through... I could destroy their funnel and put her test tube up to the hole that enters the main nest area they have made so she can get into the nest...

They've gone and built a home with doors too small for their queen!

She seems more active now too.

Please advise on how hands on I can be if things don't settle in a week or so. I don't want to destroy anything or force any of them unless absolutely necessary and with low risk.
Newbie with a new messor Barbarus colony.

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UnrealSparks
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:45 pm
Location: Turin

Re: New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

Post: # 55216Post UnrealSparks
Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:12 am

Catbug wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:18 pm
I've also just noticed that the funnel the workers are making has holes too small for the queen to fit through... I could destroy their funnel and put her test tube up to the hole that enters the main nest area they have made so she can get into the nest...

They've gone and built a home with doors too small for their queen!

She seems more active now too.

Please advise on how hands on I can be if things don't settle in a week or so. I don't want to destroy anything or force any of them unless absolutely necessary and with low risk.
I knew they would have build a funnel, because both of my colonies did the same thing. You don't have to destroy part of it for making the entrance larger for the queen, the workers will do it once needed. They will not leave the queen behind.

About manually forcing her in: that would cause a lot of unwanted stress, trust me, never force them unless it depends on their life. The best thing you can do for now is to leave the test tube close to the funnel, to minimize the distance she has to travel in order to move out. In a day or two you could also try to remove any test tube cover if she'll still be there. This way she won't feel safe anymore and may attempt to get out.
If at that point nothing will work, shine a bright light on the test tube and see how she react. Whenever I have to move a small colony I always use this method since it's safe and causes moderate stress.

If you need more details just ask and keep me updated. ;)
Keeping the following species:

- Messor Barbarus
- Pheidole Pallidula
- Camponotus Barbaricus
- Lasius Niger
- Lasius Flavus
- Lasius Emarginatus

Catbug
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:03 am
Location: Leeds, England

Re: New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

Post: # 55303Post Catbug
Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:14 am

Thanks so much!!

They are all moved out now and have built several tunnel systems in the nest area. There is condensation on the sides of the formicarium which is a problem so I'm not watering them until I see the condensation disappear.

Don't know what they've eaten as there is only 15 ants I think they've eaten some dog food and taken some seeds.

Thanks again! I just need the queen to start laying now!
Newbie with a new messor Barbarus colony.

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UnrealSparks
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:45 pm
Location: Turin

Re: New formicarium, new queen. Nervous about queens health.

Post: # 55327Post UnrealSparks
Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:21 am

No problem! I'm glad it all worked out!

If she won't lay any eggs that means she's trying to hibernate, and will not lay until spring. During hibernation I'm keeping mine at 13*C.
Keeping the following species:

- Messor Barbarus
- Pheidole Pallidula
- Camponotus Barbaricus
- Lasius Niger
- Lasius Flavus
- Lasius Emarginatus

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