My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

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AntsLuxembourg
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My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 72089Post AntsLuxembourg
Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:43 am

Hello everybody,

To start of I mostly want to share some information and "discoveries" with you guys about my current main colony (Messor Barbarus).

For those who don't know me:
My name is Nico / AntsLuxembourg and I'm running a small YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFm92dQZjY4_jGt_wIQvafg) on which I share some updates every now and then and I'm planning on a regular stream so people can watch them work, make personal observations and get some ideas and inspiration for themselves.
I might be a bit forgetful which is why I also didn't check to often in here but that was also due to work and a lack of motivation to check in the forum each day.

Now to the colony, the stories and informations. For a short version, please skip down to a summary of the facts.

I have them since about 2 years. And have learned from my faults of my first two colonies of messor barbarus and I must admit that I made the mistake that I got both of my first colonies via Mail which might not be too bad for some species over others but to be honest I did not know about my luck of my first colonie. I basically ordered a nest online which came with a queen and some workers to start right away. Although the setup itself looked fine, the fact that is didn't provide any dark corners for the queen to hide or a proper connector made it a bad choice which I would have regretted later on. So the colony was my first one and I tried to feed them some seeds including cherry pits and Apple Seeds which are not the best choice for a messor barbarus colony. Although a big colony might not have too much trouble with this I can absolutely not recommend feeding them any seeds that have a hard shell. For example cherry pits contain (if I remember correctly) a small doses of cyanide, which is not deadly for humans if you not just feast on them and swallow them by the dozens, but it is enough to kill the ants. It was mostly experimental and to find out what they would eat and what not. The apple seeds contain even less cyanide but if the ants get too many they may accidentally kill the queen. So I don't recommend feeding them. Below is a list with seeds they should not be feed.

Later I ordered me a second queen from the same antstore that lasted much longer. I managed to keep her for a some months and still have some of the workers of that colony that have managed to survive. Don't worry. I'm not a monster. I keep them in a self made tubing setup and they have water and seeds and are still moving. Here I was more patient. I gave the queen at least 4 days rest in pure darkness and no vibrations what so ever as the queens are very fragile in regards to the workers. The queen is easily stressed by vibrations or light and might die because of this. This counts of course for many queens but the messor barbarus queens are extra sensitive to those things.
Now to my experimenting. I knew or read that messor barbarus are a not aggressive so aggressive species and will protect the nest once they are under attack so what did my younger naiver self thought? Let's put the old workers in the same setup. I tried first with only one worker and since no dead ant body had appeared after a day or two, I thought I should add the rest to the colony as it seemed that they had accepted the workers in the colony. However this only works if the colony is polygenious and has still a queen. So what happened was that at some point the ants might have killed the queen. At the same time I did also offered some cherry pits which might have also caused issues so I am not sure what finally killed the queen. Of this colony I still have some of the workers around and they have some seeds and water. The experiments mostly are limited to them being in a rather bright area most of the time and that I don't bother to put them into hibernation. So they have been under some stress but I assumed that as they are worker ants that they are less stressed by sunlight. It also gives me a rough estimate of the possible age of the workers. So far I can say about 2+ years. Proof for this is that the queen of them had died at some point before the 09 July 2020 and the workers weren't young workers. This is the video I recorder before I put them in their separate setup.

Later that year I got me a queen via our GAN Project and went to pick it up myself to ensure that she makes it in one piece with not too much stress. I worked on several DIY expansions and so far everything seems to be alright. To seal any potential leaks I have used transparent silicon that is used for an aquarium and I also haven't seen them try to bite through. Although so far they always had enough space to expand the nest etc. Currently their nest is set up of a DIY bucket, a horizontal expansion from Antstore.net from when I visited them in Berlin earlier this year, a big and small DIY IKEA Godmorgon storage boxes and a small DIY tower as a graveyard. The DIY bucket got a piece of driftwood and clay soil that can be used in a terrarium for reptiles. Why that? Well it said that it is perfect for building a nest or cave for the pets and so far the ants seem very happy with it. However I feel like I should introduce some spring tails or plants or something that helps to keep the nest clean from the inside. The nest fro Antstore.net got a red transparent foil all over it to reduce light and currently they use it as a storage for their seeds as it is the driest area of their setup. The small DIY box I use as a feeding area meanwhile they have started to use it as a graveyard too. It got sand and a small glass bowl that I have mostly covered with sand. The big DIY box is filled with only clay soil and a water testtube that I've put in the middle and a tiny clay pot as decoration. I can't tell what they preferably use as their nest or storage but it seems that they have their storage and nest everywhere.
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
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Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 72090Post AntsLuxembourg
Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:45 am

Part 2 -

I am watering the big DIY box and the DIY bucket with some water from time to time. First to give them some humidity and second so they can do some digging. Sometimes I use an injection to add the water and sometimes my spraying bottle and rarely I just pure some water in there which sinks in. But I I make sure that it's never swimming in water as it always has enough space to get soaked up by soil. I also once made the mistake to water a selfmade feeding arena filled with sand and then they had started to dig around. Some of the seeds then had started to grow which ruined the setup for me so I had to pull out all the roots and dry out the area to get all the ants to move out. Don't worry. I checked and not a single one of them was buried alive in there. Used a sifter to get only the sand ;)

Summary of feeding facts.
What seeds do they really love:

- Dandelion Seeds
- Raspberry Seeds
- Blackberry Seeds
- Strawberry Seeds
- Kiwi Seeds

They will go for them immediatly when offered and found.

What other seeds can they eat:

- Sunflower Seeds (Unshelled)
- Pomegranate Seeds
- Wheat Seeds
- Hokkaido Pumpkin Seeds (I have always removed the shell and not yet tried to offer them as a whole)
- Paprika Seeds
- Tomato Seeds (not sure right now as I don't remember trying but will run a test at some point)
- Seeds from various wild grasses (will have to find some names so you get a better idea)
- Seedmixes that can be bought in Antstores online

Seeds you should never offer due to ant health concerns:

- Seeds collected from any farmers field (Pesticides)
- Cherry Pits/Seeds
- Peace Pits/Seeds
- Mango Pits/Seeds
- Prune Pits/Seeds
- Apricot Pits/Seeds
- Apple Seeds
- Any Pits/Seeds which need a lot of force or skill to be opened

What they don't like:

- Honey
- Insects

Afaik (As far as I know) they are not very well know to eat honey or insects. They do eat some insects but I don't have many feeder insects nor colonies who eat/need feeder insects.

What I haven't tried yet:

- Normal nuts like Peanuts, Wallnuts, etc.

Once I have tried to check

I got most of my seeds from buying the fruits, vegetables or seeds from the store and then harvesting the fruits for the seeds. It was a lot of work to be honest and I advice that if possible grow your own fruits to eliminate the factor of unknown pesticides which may be harmful to the colony.

Feel free to discuss my findings and add your ideas and questions.

I will try to check a couple of times to discuss this. Maybe some on the information are new to you guys but it might help you on finding out what to feed them from time to time. Maybe some of this might even find it's way in the ultimate ant keeping handbook. ;)

- AntsLuxembourg / Nico
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
Contact:

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 72515Post AntsLuxembourg
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:37 am

I thought that this might be a good addition to this thread as it explains how I got my hands on some of those seeds. If someone is interested I can try to make a video in how I do it. And yes it can take a lot of time to get not even a spoon full of seeds. :/
AntsLuxembourg wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:34 am
haha. I am lucky that I have all sorts or tweezers. I hade some that are pretty points which makes it easy. I found with strawberries that it is sometimes easy to get some seeds by strocking the strawberry "against the grain" so the seeds get pulled of by the tweezers. Then I put them on a paper towel so they juice is sucked up and then after I am done I put the seeds into one of those plastic bowls you get when ordering soup or food from a chinese restaurant. :P

That one I put without a lit onto my PC who gets kind of hot when I'm gaming so it dries the seeds too. With raspberries I used one of my old tea leaf balls. Like it's a filter bit a metalic one. So I basically put the strawberry through it and try to wash off most of the berry itself. then I put it on a paper towel and do the same.

For the kiwi I have decided that I will only do it with one half as the "acid" of it makes my mouth, lips and/or tongue tingly or hurt a little bit. So I take a spoon and kind of push the seeds out of the kiwi. Then I put them into my mouth to clean them and get ride of the kiwi juice and then I try to put as many of the seeds onto the towel as I can. I sometimes accidentally consume some of them. xD

It's perfect for watching some videos on youtube like RubberRoss working on his mario maker levels. :P

Blackberry is also kind of easy to harvest but takes some time. I use my pointy tweezers and pick the seed straight out of the bubble. Then I put it into my mouth for the juice and then onto the towel.

No idea why but now I have that groce and disgusting image of denethor eating that one tomato. xD
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
Contact:

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 72575Post AntsLuxembourg
Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:57 am

I'm doing some research on what types of wild grasses / rye grasses they eat and thought I should add them in here as it might help you to look them up and harvest.

Here some tips from me before you go and just feed them straight every wild grass / rye grass you can find.
Put them in a container and place the container in a warm spot. For gamer, put it on top of your computer. A radiator should do or a spot that goes above 40°C. Leave it there for 2-4 days and if you have condensed water on the lid feel free to open the box and dry it a little bit. This way the seeds are a little bit more dry but it kills most insects so the risk of getting bad mites or insects into your setup is much lower.

Here a list of wildseeds that they enjoy and collect. I have first the german name for them followed by the scientific name and more common English names.

- Kriech-Quecke (Elymus repens). Other names include common couch, twitch, quick grass, quitch grass (also just quitch), dog grass, quackgrass, scutch grass, and witchgrass. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elymus_repens
- Deutsches Weidelgras (Lolium perenne). Common name perennial ryegrass, English ryegrass, winter ryegrass, or ray grass https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_perenne
- Wald-Knäuelgras (Dactylis polygama). (couldn't find the English Wikipedia version :/ ) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wald-Kn%C3%A4uelgras
- Gewöhnliches Knäuelgras (Dactylis glomerata). Also known as cock's-foot, orchard grass, or cat grass (due to its popularity for use with domestic cats) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dactylis_glomerata
-Wiesen-Rispengras (Poa pratensis). Commonly known as Kentucky bluegrass (or blue grass), smooth meadow-grass, or common meadow-grass https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poa_pratensis

I hope this helps some of you and I will add more as I go and find the names of the plants with the seeds.
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
Contact:

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 72577Post AntsLuxembourg
Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:09 am

A small update for the pepper seeds. They take them but I don't think that pepper is their favorite kind of seeds.
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
Contact:

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 72996Post AntsLuxembourg
Wed Aug 12, 2020 8:32 am

So I made a new outworld for my colony about two weeks ago and they totally love it. They use parts of it as their garbage side and the big plateau for their scavenging needs. I'm also planing and working on their next big / massiv extension for their nest which will give them really a lot to work on. I do hope to be able to get it ready at some point. :)

This week I also tried some new food for my Messor Barbarus. Apparently they also accept Papaya Seeds. I offered them some with the seed skin and some without. They basically accepted both. But I decided to go remove the seed skins on most to not have too much mess around. :)

I also had some exploding seed pod seeds lying around. So I tried those too and they took them immediatly. :)
I only had a few of them tho. I don't know what plant exactly it was but I think it was "Orange Jewelweed". I would have to check again and identify the plant to make sure but the seed pots look the same / very similar.
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
Contact:

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 73274Post AntsLuxembourg
Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:30 am

Okay. So I know I did write that they don't really hunt for insects, however someone once recommended to try some insects and I decided yesterday to throw in a mealworm. Guess what I noticed. They went and purged the mealworm. It seems rather crazy but after about 10 hours or so they finally managed to bring it into the nest.

This basically tells me that messor barbarus is definetely not a very good fighter species and that they don't have stingers like fireants do to put their pray to sleep. Or if they do, they don't have a very effectiv stinger. They mostly kept the mealworm still and I guess they went for it's head. However mealworms are very wiggley so it is rather difficult to do.

In case someone is interested in the footage, please find the video here.
It's not bloody / hemolymphious but it might be a bit brutal so watch at your own discretion.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuFKWLKV_hE[/youtube]
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

Gamatron332
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2020 6:45 pm
Location: Alabama

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 73278Post Gamatron332
Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:06 pm

Hi! I’m just wondering if you could post a pic of a worker? I want to know if I have the same species so I can prep seeds now instead of using all my time later. Thanks if you can!

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
Contact:

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 73450Post AntsLuxembourg
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:14 am

Hello Gamatron,

I don't have just one picture, no I have many thousands of pictures aligned after each other to create a video of my colony setup. Including close ups of my ants.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFBnqDQedc4

Have a look and let me know what you think. :)
Also feel free to add pictures of your own.

Updates for the Informations:

I gave my ants Tomatoe Seeds which they gladly took. They also consumed about 4-6 live mealworms when offered earlier this week. This footage can be found on my youtube channel (AntsLuxembourg) and spans over a couple of days as it took them a couple hours to first kill and then feast upon them. And yes it was live feeding. Therefor watch on your own discression.

They also take Honey Melon and Water Melon Seeds. I also got Sugar Melon Seeds (look the same as Honey Melon seeds but whatever) but haven't tried them yet.

Soon I will also try physalis seeds. I guess they will take them as soon as they discover them as they are new seeds and apparently they go for everything new to have some variaty and something new. :)

Oh and yes they do eat mealworms but at some point they will just stop actively attacking and hunting them as they either were full or bored. However they did take several swipes at them for being wiggly. ;)
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

AntsLuxembourg
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:17 am
Location: Luxembourg
Contact:

Re: My Messor Barbarus Colony (Discussion and Info)

Post: # 73715Post AntsLuxembourg
Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:13 am

I keep feeding my colony some mealworms and from the looks of it they love them. I am rather surprised by this as they sometimes seem to be a bit picky about their seeds as they sometimes just wouldn't take them all but leave some out after a while.
I could also imagine that a lack of insects might have made them to go for the mealworms. I don't think that they would go for cockroaches (I would also feel disgusted to just have them around me. xD) as they are not such strong fighers. However they seem to slowly get the hang of killing the mealworms and getting everything out of them. ;)
Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

Colonies:
1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

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