C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

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CANant
Posts: 258
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:04 am
Location: Paris, Ontario

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 61954Post CANant
Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:10 am

I actually didn’t know there were journals until your post in the Camponotus Crew post! Haha I may create one this week.
I did check I was still subscribed and bookmarked. It was very strange but since my post I have been getting notices again. Maybe it times out? Very odd.
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Hawkeye
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Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 61962Post Hawkeye
Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:25 pm

Definitely something wrong with the server I think. None of my last messages actually got posted

sartwell90
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 pm
Location: South East Michigan

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62106Post sartwell90
Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:56 am

The Carpenters are up to 21 or 22 workers - which already passes the upper estimate I had for total before winter. It's getting to the point where it's getting harder to count them. They still have about half their brood pile left and I believe the queen is on an egg-laying break. So well timed for the coming hibernation, if only I had that level of planning prowess! If it is indeed how many eggs, larva and pupae that it appears to be. This queen that started with only 2 nanitics might very well hit 40 workers or more before the winter, talk about prolific! I'm so proud of her.

Image

And the troublesome Tetramorium, only kidding - aside from how they have been storing their food they've been very accommodating. I was trying to get a picture of the brood but then the queen and workers all joined the frame so here's the whole family.

Image

Just a note, I posted this in the Camponotus crew too, since there are so many people dropping updates in there I figured I'd contribute an update to that thread too.
Check out my colonies! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDze5idJomnpRCpvd3QoAFA
Or, if you would rather read about them check here - https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?p=60680#p60680

Warden
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:33 pm
Location: MN

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62125Post Warden
Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:54 pm

Finally checked out your log, lots of great pictures. I might have to bust out my t2 and try to up my documentation game!

sartwell90
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 pm
Location: South East Michigan

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62127Post sartwell90
Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:13 pm

Warden wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:54 pm
Finally checked out your log, lots of great pictures. I might have to bust out my t2 and try to up my documentation game!
Looking forward to your new content! For my stills and video I have been using my cell phone with a set of lenses that come out to around $4 each. :P

I've had a lot of practice being broke. :lol:
Check out my colonies! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDze5idJomnpRCpvd3QoAFA
Or, if you would rather read about them check here - https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?p=60680#p60680

sartwell90
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 pm
Location: South East Michigan

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62128Post sartwell90
Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:45 pm

So, time to introduce those of you reading along in my journal to an experiment I've been running that has so far yielded some interesting great results if you like speculating on the why's of ant behavior. My T. spE polygyny test.

Image

Say hello to the six survivng queens of an original eight queens (plus one male alate) that were rescued from the watery chlorinated clutches of almost certain death over at my mother's house in her pool. All of them lived for several days in a tupperware tub that I added two water tubes to, in hopes that they would move in.

Well over the course of what was probably around 2 weeks they didn't make a move for the tubes, instead starting to lay eggs in spaces below the tubes (which made me have to be super cautious when giving them water soaked cotton balls and moving the tub!). During this time, they split into 2 founding groups and a couple wanderers.

The queen in the top chose the male alate as her only buddy, and groomed and took care of him for a few days until he died. She even carried around his corpse with her in a kind of grim display of care, they may have come from the same colony or she may have been keeping his body around for food later. We can only speculate. I was surprised that the male lived a few days at all considering I am fairly certain he had mated. Maybe death is less immediate for mated males than I had thought.

Two queens wandered around a good deal, they were both dealate queens so they had presumeably mated, but later died a couple days after the male passed. I suspect chlorine poisoning may have been the culprit. Maybe the male didn't mate and also died from chlorine.

Five queens decided to play the numbers game and began laying quite a large clutch of eggs, tending them together and cleaning eachother. Even assuming roles like worker ants normally would, one was the definitive forager/guard. She patrolled around looking for water, sugar or bits of insect I left in the case they wanted some. While another seemed to be constantly moving between the brood checking on them, the others were mainly only observed laying eggs and guarding them by laying on the brood pile.

For a species documented as monogynous they certainly are effective at working together to found a colony, though in many monogynous species things go this way until at some point the queens or the workers decide to go all highlander. "There can be only one!"

Finally, some mold had begun to appear in the tub so I had to move things around to clean. With several Q-tips and the practice of being swift and careful I made their tub especially clean for them, but in the process had to move the tubes they were hiding under. Because of this, I did not want to place the tube back on top of them. I have had first-hand experience (literally) with how delicate their brood is, and knew that they had readjusted and placing the tube back on top may have injured or killed some of their brood or one of the queens.

I place the tube to the other unoccupied side of the tub. They remained in their little corner, exposed now, but not appearing overtly disturbed or anxious. They must have been uncomforable enough though, because a couple of days later while I was sound asleep they all disappeared.

They had finally all moved into tubes on the same night. Curiously, they kept in their separate groups. The one queen still toting the dead male and the five queens still assuming the same roles. Today I checked in on them and grabbed that picture, I also gave them a little sugar water. They may be fully claustral, but they definitely don't dislike a bit of dessert here or there. The forager/patrolling queen quickly darted to the sugar drop and made sure to share plenty via trophallaxis with the other four queens.

I'm going to leave them undisturbed primarily, and will check in on them sometime later. The solo queen gets very nervous around light, the five queens really don't seem to care at all. Confidence in numbers?

What I find interesting in this micro-experiment is that the one queen that is founding on her own has laid a much smaller clutch (even dividing the other clutch by five for the five queens) with much less developed brood. Also that among the same species gathered on the same day after the same nuptial flight from the same pool, there are 5 individuals in favor of co-founding a colony and 1 individual that would rather tough it out on her own.

They all ran into each other in the first few days in the tub as they were settling in, maybe the 5 queens were from the same original colony. So much to speculate on, but the experiment goes on to see if they will continue down their paths. Once workers are eclosed the tubes will be separated so the larger colony doesn't go kill and raid the solo queen, until then there is still time for them to interact, thus far peacefully.
Check out my colonies! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDze5idJomnpRCpvd3QoAFA
Or, if you would rather read about them check here - https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?p=60680#p60680

sartwell90
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 pm
Location: South East Michigan

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62375Post sartwell90
Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:18 pm

Big update for the main pavement ant colony! The nanitics have arrived, and I had no idea there'd be such dramatic difference in morphology between the wild brood used for boosting and the nanitics. Not only are the nanitics smaller, but they are easily less than half the size of the workers from the brood boosting. Not only that but - while more video and photos will have to be taken to confirm - it appears that they have different body proportions and head shapes. I thought that the native Tetramorium were monomorphic but it appears I was wrong, whether they are distinct castes (ie. dimorphic workers, minors and majors) or just single caste polymorphism will require further observation.

Of course, here's a picture so you can see the difference yourself! Tiny tiny babies, they were so much smaller I neglected to even notice the pupae until I peeked in after a few days and, instead of seeing pupae, I saw fully eclosed workers!

The three clustered together on the brood pile are all the nanitics (minus the one that is only visible as a blur that was checking out the camera) note that the head shape and obvious body size difference with the worker closer to the foreground. Love that I'm getting surprises, regardless of how much I read up on previous descriptions and documentations of such common species!

Image
Check out my colonies! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDze5idJomnpRCpvd3QoAFA
Or, if you would rather read about them check here - https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?p=60680#p60680

CANant
Posts: 258
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:04 am
Location: Paris, Ontario

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62425Post CANant
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:00 pm

Hawkeye wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:25 pm
Definitely something wrong with the server I think. None of my last messages actually got posted
I’m subscribed to this topic and not getting notifications. But I am for the Camponotus crew now. So strange.
Keeper of:
Camponotus Pennsylvanicus x 1

Follow my journal:
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CANant
Posts: 258
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:04 am
Location: Paris, Ontario

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62426Post CANant
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:15 pm

Wow those Nanitics look sooo tiny! Dare I say cute. ;)
Love hearing about your experiment!
Wow that’s impressive even having 20 workers before winter for the Carpenter colony! That will be so great if they reach 40!!
Keeper of:
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sartwell90
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 pm
Location: South East Michigan

Re: C. noveboracensis and T. spE: My first dive into ant keeping

Post: # 62853Post sartwell90
Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:03 am

Time for some updates!

Image

Behold, 2 new outworlds, the stomping ground of my two successfully-established, wild-caught Tetramorium colonies! So, which two have successfully established themselves. Well the one solo queen that has had workers for a bit is getting the smaller, shallower, rounder outworld. The large-and-in-charge outworld is going to our polygynous colony, which brings us to the second update.

The group of Tetramorium queens killed one of the five queens, I'm not certain as to why this queen was targeted but I do have two small clue. First, the queen they killed was the queen that would roam around and help with the foraging work early on in their stay. Second, the next morning - in the wake of the queen's death - there were eclosed workers.

I suspect her extra energy (used for all that movement and foraging) may have been from not being fertilized, so it might just be that the queens, knowing that more sustainable help was on the way, decided to boost efficiency by eliminating the extra queen that was - possibly out of bid for survival via usefulness - acting as an overgrown worker. The other option, perhaps more plausible at the time of discovery, was that it was approaching the time for the throne war.

Now this is where, as someone mentioned earlier, things heat up in species that are not truly polygynous - and the moment of truth approached.

The colony now has a large group of both brood-tending nest-bound ants and foraging crew. Their first run of workers is already about as large as the 3-4 iterations of eclosings that the single-queen colony has (which makes sense with 4 queens I suppose). This isn't the result, but rather an indicator of the result. After numerous stressors (via exposure to their new lands) and the presence of a capable work force that could easily dispatch excess queens, the colony seems to be stable and growing with all four remaining queens. Polygynous colony established! Now, the 4-queen Tetramorium spp. colony is officially welcomed as an established success and it is time to watch them grow.

Not only that, but this colony is by far the most altruistic and aggressive even though it is the youngest established colony. This hints that overall colony size may be more of a behavioral trigger than age of workers as it pertains to how willing a worker is to act in the interest of the colony before themselves. Such behaviors include swarming, which I may have gotten macro video of and very possibly will be editing and producing into a new addition soon.

Finally, The Carpenters, my amazing C. nova colony, is still growing with the remaining brood. Egg-laying has certainly slowed to a near halt (a few young larva here or there, they stash the eggs under the brood pile so hard to see how many if any are there), and the colonies behavior appears to be readying for the over-winter brumation. They are still helping new workers eclose, managing waste, and gathering sugars and proteins, but with far less overall activity than before. Almost a midway between full brumation and normal colony activity.

Soon I am going to move their chamber away from the heating mat they hover above which should give them a comfortably cooler climate to do their thing.

The Tetramorium colonies have not begun readying for winter in the same way yet, lucky for me, I'll have classes and research to keep me busy while they all settle down for their winter nap.
Check out my colonies! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDze5idJomnpRCpvd3QoAFA
Or, if you would rather read about them check here - https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?p=60680#p60680

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