My colony is dying. Any ideas on saving remaining ants?

Let us know of your ant colonies or queens that have passed away. We will grieve together but will also learn why your ants may not have succeeded.

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My colony is dying. Any ideas on saving remaining ants?

Post: # 97040Post Hormigal
Fri Oct 14, 2022 11:27 pm

I have a Camponotus colony that's dying and I'm not sure why, and wondering if there's anything I can do to help the remaining ants. I've loved ants for some years but am brand new to ant keeping. Any advice would be much welcome!

The situation is a little unusual. I rescued the colony when argentine ants (who are killing every native ant on our property) drove the queens out of their nest and were slaughtering them and the workers. It was a mature, polygonous colony, and I rescued quite a number of queens and maybe twenty or so workers. The rest of the workers had been slaughtered by the argentine ants. That was in July. I put them in a formicarium and they seemed to be doing well, except the eggs took forever to hatch and then the larvae stayed tiny.

But suddenly, some days ago, almost all the workers died, all at once. There were just three majors left and two tiny minors. I'd put quite a bit of molasses in a couple days before this incident, and the day I found the dead ants I also found moldy molasses all over. Could this have been the problem? I removed the twigs which had the molasses and mold on them.

The same day I noticed the dead workers, I also noticed the queens were coming out of their chambers and wandering around above ground, seeming restless. Thinking maybe there was something wrong with the formicarium, I connected it with some plastic tubing to a plastic jar with some moist and dryer paper toweling in the bottom, and some of the queens and the remaining workers moved in there. But I've had a queen or two die every few days. One queen, as she was dying, has her mandibles open continually and was very unresponsive. A worker kept coming and pulling gently on her legs, licking her, then running away and circling back to check on her again. Tonight when I checked up on the colony I found dead ants everywhere. I still have a few living queens and one worker.

I'm wondering, should I put the still-living ones in a test tube?? Should I check on them often to remove the dead ones, or leave them alone so I don't disturb them? Should I divide up the remaining queens so in case some are healthy and some are sick they don't spread disease? Anything I can do to increase the ants' chance of survival?

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