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By andavane
This is a scrappy compendium of my ant collection. It may at times be jagged, funny, quirky and at others positively weird. I love natural history programmes, yet loathe the tendency to anthropomorphise the lives of creatures who live lives entirely different from our own.

Yet I do it with Ants all the time! Why? I was mystified, until a few days ago I opened my Kindle and began to read: The Lives of Ants by Laurent Keller and Elisabeth Gordon.
I was entranced to learn that c 1000 BC, King Solomon recommended them as models of wisdom. And in The Bible we find: Go to the ant, thou sluggard! Consider her ways, and be wise (Proverbs 6:6–8). Followed on by Aristotle, Plutarch and Plato, the ant keeper soon comes to realise that Ants are a Class Insect.
Anyway, to get on with my small collection. We have, in chronological order:

Feb 29th: Messor barbarus delivery. 1 Queen + 11–20 workers
Lasting in the test-tube for only 3 days, HM Queen Barbaria made herself scarce, vacating the tube overnight. It's a nice little tank made of glass with a narrow side panel into which I sprinkled some clay granules and a few teaspoons of sand. Two tablespoons of garden soil were dusted on the floor surface along with a small piece of mossy bark and a water feeder.
4 April 11th 2016: Messor capitatus
Ruled by Queen Capitulia the Inquisitive

April 11th 2016: Lasius flavus. 1 Queen + 1–5 workers.
I goofed, and the Kingdom came to an end when I put the tube on a 5w heat-mat. I only went to lie down for half-an-hour! Oh well… Try again ...

May 8th 2016: Lasius flavus. 1 Queen + 5 workers.
Ruled over by Queen Flavita the Bashful.
Were she a human, she’d have skin the colour of sunlight, and straw-coloured hair which would hang like a silken screen over her face. In the Pub she’d sit in the darkest corner sipping a fruit juice and nibbling cashews.

Apr 11th 2016 : Camponotus ligniperdus: 1 Queen + 7 workers
Ruled by Queen Lignacia the Compassionate.
She gave full employment to all her offspring and the handicapped one, dear One-Eye was the chief look-out and Head Forager. One-Eye, in a burst of enthusiasm, stuck his head in a pool of blood worms. At least he died in joy!

August 1st: Manica rubida. 1 Queen + 1 worker only (short-lived!)
The Tube arrived with Queen Rubidella the Snippy, along with one worker and a tiny brood :(
Short-lived, the daughter died within a few days. Nobody was there but me to console her. I just did the best I could for her.
On day 1, I offered her a drop of honey-water, delivered at the end of the pipette, which she lapped up greedily. I followed this by a tiny drop of beaten egg which she took half-heartedly. Probably she was full from the sweet sips. Always eager to escape the tube, I started to devise a roomier place for her, where she could remain in her tube if she wanted to, but was able to explore a roomier Outworld. This will be described in a continuing post where Queen Rubidella has a place all to herself. As well as being snippy, she is also extremely snobbish, eschewing the contact of others.
Just to let you know, she’s not greedy, despite her eating habits her wolfish eating: Everything she gobbles is passed on to her Brood.

[Quran 27.18] Until, when they came upon the valley of the ants, an ant said (for females), "O ants, enter your homes so that you do not be crushed by Solomon and his soldiers while they do not feel it."
Last edited by andavane on Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Curiouser and Curiouser Alice said after she'd passed through the Looking Glass.
Today, we're looking at Queen Rubidella the Snippy.
I normally have her on my trolley-table after lunch. My little collection is better than what you get on the Telly in my Eyes, and it's a Soap-Opera I rarely miss keeping an eye on.
If anything exciting is going to happen with the Colony, it'll happen At Night is a saying well known and expected amongst ant-keepers.
So the afternoon before last I couldn't be bothered quite frankly.
Well when I went to my table early evening, Blow Me down! HER NIBS had cleared off... Om My God!!!
Bang went the episode I really wanted to watch. And there's no i-Player! :pirate:

Oh well what to do next?... best pick up the thread where we can I guess. That Brood of eggs and Larvæ was nearly as big as she was. Never mind. Saturday night has a hum dinger of an episode of Casualty, they say.
Oh, and check to see she's still in the tank. Raj said she's scarpered good and proper.

Then... peering into the bottom of the set-up — an Exo-Terra Mini Faunarium is her home with tubes and pieces of wood etc to fill the space. At the Very Bottom there's a wee Founding Chamber from Tarheel Ants. Raj had cut a piece of Red Acetate and placed it over the Window so it's mostly dark, and in there...... cleaning her 'whiskers' like a long-leggéd spectre, was Queen Rubella!

My disappointment mostly vanished to know that She and the Brood were OK, even if I couldn't see whether the latter were still OK.

It's a woman's privilege to change her mind, I quoted soothingly to myself as I comforted myself that things were OK. For the time being...
Last edited by andavane on Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Yesterday: 25th October, 2016
A home-grown Lasius Niger Queen arrives from Nile Ant-boy.
Connected it to a mini-Outworld using an elbow joint and my carer Bullet Rajah. A picture paints a thousand words, they say, so goodness know how many can be contained in a moving picture, he heh!

So there we were, except:

Oh golly, all I did was go and do another job for an hour or so, came back and.... there she was..... GONE!

The Lady Vanishes again, I guess. What to do? Call in Sherlock Holmes? Well, not quite!
The solution to the Riddle is "Elementary, dear Watson!".
Queen Nigrita and had busy brood had all re-located,
right inside the elbow joint!
For the record, this is the fastest a Queen and brood have moved in my experience.
I reckon they must have approved of the mini set-up and wasted no time in relocating to their Winter Quarters! :laugh:
Nile Antboy liked this
11th November 2016 : Update

Queen Nigrita, who had relocated into the elbow joint, moved her family back into the test-tube about a week ago. My carer Raj (aka Bullet Rajah) has taken a few snaps.
1st pictured is the Hibernation setup. The thermostat under the tablein the ant room (shortly to have its rad switched off) is being gradually turned down, and will end up at about 12 °
2nd pictures show Queen Nigrita herself and her brood. Hope they'll be OK!

Thanks to @Nile Antboy for supplying the Queen + brood.
Queen Nigrita 2
Queen Nigrita 1
Low wattage cupboard warmer with thermostat
Manica Rubida aka Queen Rubella the Snippy.

I had totally given up on this moody Queen and plans were being made to replace her next year. So I began to do a slight tidy-up for the Winter as I make their hibernations quarters ready.
First thing to go: the mouldy old test-tube which was formerly her nest. It did not look a pleasant sight, and somehow at the end of the tube a kind of gossamer webbing cloud rested, with strange little "dots" in it. Sorry guys no photos as very busy.
Up comes the tube. I peer inside and what do I see? WOW! There is Queen Rubella looking as pleased as punch, busying herself away with something or other, and alongside her.... An elegant looking daughter!
I felt delighted. And somehow extraordinary.
What is more, as I continued the tidy-up process, Queen Rubidella went about her business, as calm as you like. As I moved some of the furniture around, she merely seem to observe with interest what my clumsy hand was doing.
Part of her daily duties seem to be a visit to the 'Gravel Pit'. This is a soft silicone cup-cake case holder. In Red, to match her colour, the 'Gravel Pit' is filled with LECA pebbles, interspersed with sphagnum moss and watered with fresh rain water. On the top is a little feeding dish. I dropped a frozen cricket into it, and she came right up to my finger to investigate with her feelers. Not a lot of interest there, but I reckon that she'll be back soon.
Also there's a thimble pot with nothing but live green sphagnum and a test-tube filled with honey water and plugged with cotton wool.
All-in-all, she reminded me of a housewife who returns from the shops to find that the sofas and settees have been moved about.
Way To Go, Queen Rubella! Hope you make it safe and sound through the Winter!
Kisses, and many thanks for not stinging me when you could have done! :)

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