Keep your ant journals in here
#23346
27th September 2017

I noticed that lately a lot of posts have just been pictures of ants and brood, so here's something different.

How the Lazy Horde manages foraging.
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Step 5 would be "drag it into the nest" but that only works when there's no other workers around that drag into different directions. As mentioned in earlier posts teamwork isn't their greatest strength, at least not when it comes to moving stuff around (maybe that'll change in the future though).


Five of them dismembering a fly. They usually cut off the legs before they drag it away - there's so many fly legs in my outworld now :D
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Something I noticed is that there's a distinct difference in behavior between the castes. While the minors usually ignore me or run away and the majors have been incredibly shy so far, the medias are different. They are curious and bold and will come to inspect what's going on - one even tried to attack my pincers. It's gonna be interesting to work around in the outworld when there's more of them.


Now for the more "regular" stuff again, although this time a lot has changed.

As you can immediately see most of the pupae are gone and there's a ton of ants now. In fact there's so many ants I consider adding the second nest.
They definitely gonna need it when the current brood - which is scattered all over the entire nest - turns into workers.
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There's a lot of pictures of specific nest areas following so I made a map for better orientation.
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1) Basically all pupae in the left wing are gone and small larvae took their place. The top left chamber almost empty.
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2) The remaining pupae are almost entirely stored in the right wing and the top chamber, together with larvae of all development stages.
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3) The top central chamber now contains only a few pupae and the huge batches of eggs and very small just-hatched larvae (actually most of them are tiny larvae as can be seen by them curling or having black dots). There's also always at least two majors in that chamber.
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4) A close-up of the upper left chamber.
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5) The upper central corridor with lots of small larvae and Queen Barbarianna.
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6) The left port area. There's only a few larvae there so hopefully adding the second nest here won't be too much of a hassle.
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7) The right port area. This port leads to the outworld so it's not unexpected that there's no brood.
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8) More brood in the central hallway.
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9) A surprisingly large amount of brood in the lower left corridor just above the hydration mesh.
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10) There's even brood on the hydration mesh now. I think they're really running out of space.
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11) They did indeed expand the trash pile to the other chamber.
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12) Even more brood in the water pipe.
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Image from the other direction.
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Queen Wednesday has lots and lots of pupae now. Not many workers have yet eclosed yet though.
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The Lasius niger colony has just tripled in size. You can clearly spot the light brown fresh workers.
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#24171
So did your C. Barbaricus hibernate at all last year? And I️ had sent you a message on a colony i couldn’t identity but with some quick scrolling through the forum it’s a lasius Niger colony with about 14 workers and a pile of brood! My C. Barbaricus has 3 workers and my C. Chromaiodes queen has 0 workers and 0 brood.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
#24173
Oh, forgot to update this again...

Um, yes they did - sort of. They are mediteranean ants which means they don't really hibernate - they are just far less active than usual (basically they sit in the nest all day and night, the brood doesn't develop, etc.). They never look kinda dead like northern Camponotus do.
They were in this mode from around early December to the beginning of March.
#24174
Serafine wrote:Oh, forgot to update this again...

Um, yes they did - sort of. They are mediteranean ants which means they don't really hibernate - they are just far less active than usual (basically they sit in the nest all day and night, the brood doesn't develop, etc.). They never look kinda dead like northern Camponotus do.
They were in this mode from around early December to the beginning of March.


Thanks helps a lot! Is there another way I can keep in contact? I have anew colony of C. Barbaricus! And I may need help!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
#24175
You can come to reddit r/antkeeping, I'm a mod there and we could need content as we're currently in the process of building up a community. There's also quick question topic.
https://dm.reddit.com/r/antkeeping/ (that's the dark mode visuals, you can scroll down for the normal white theme)

There's also an ant Discord server were you can chat, talk, ask stuff and usually get answers quickly, the link is in my signature.
#24266
So... it's been a a while.

7th October '17


As you probably know I've expanded their setup with some tubing and a plastic container. It worked as planed and the ants are in fact disposing their dead there.

https://i.imgur.com/Jy6LVbf.jpg


After a while I've also added a small feeder to the plastic container and for some ominous reason this feeder has proven to be very popular - in fact it is even more popular than the more nearby feeder in the main outworld. You'd think ants always visit the closest food source - well, they don't.

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Here's a worker returning home with her belly full of sweet sugar water. You an really see how transparent that gaster looks.

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The pupae pile is growing again as the first batch of larvae has already pupated.

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The left wing once again is full with larvae of all sizes and fresh white pupae.

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The upper left chamber still is almost empty but the chamber right below it is full of brood.

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The main pupating chamber, you can really see the difference between the fresh white and the older more yellow-brownish pupae.

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Next to no brood at the right door area, just a bunch of majors.

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Lots of brood in the middle corridor.

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This area in the lower left corridor seems to be an establish breeding site now.

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TONS of brood in the water tube.

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That thrash pile seems to be... smaller. I think I should check the outworld they probably stuck their trash all under the decorations again. Also note how they're starting to sit at the walls.

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Fifty shades of amber.

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They've actually expanded to the bottom of the tube.

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These Solenopsis fugax are so ridiculously tiny it's really hard to take pictures of them outside their tube and even harder to spot them with the naked eye - they're basically invisible.

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Fresh Lasius workers! You can still see some of the being a bit pale. Look how they insulated their water reservoir. They are also not using the straw as intended but instead have made a shortcut through the cotton at the side of the tube.

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#24267
10th October '17

Actually I didn't plan on making an update today but well...



Outside activity has been very low although today there were actually about 9 ants outside for a brief duration. Some workers have died over the course of the last week, the total count is now at 11 including the first dead media worker. Three of the nanitics are still alive.



They shoved most of the larvae into the central corridor. Fatties everywhere.

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The central corridor with most of the fatties.

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That pupae pile has grown a lot.

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Looks like a all the small larvae are in one of the bottom left chambers now.

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A breeding chamber next to the waste dump. Not my first choice but well... ant logic I guess.

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Lots of fatties in the water tube. And her majesty is taking a nip (yes, that big ant is the queen).

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More callows! Look at that cute white worker! They are so fast and skittish, when they get a name it has to be something that reflects their nervous behavior and their raw speed.

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More amber. These shouldn't take much longer to eclose.

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They actually expanded to the bottom of the tube. Some of the workers look fairly pale, I think they just eclosed very recently.

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#24268
17th October '17

Actually I wanted to make this update a bit earlier but my internet just completely screwed up...


Lazy Tube got a new toy! It doesn't really fit in color-wise but you can't have everything I guess. It will help to increase the outworld's effective surface area a bit though which had a notable lack of vertical objects to climb on.
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There were two ants on it after a few minutes - one liked the maple syrup, the other one took some of the aphids away (there was an aphid invasion at our door, dozens of aphids climbing up the wall, probably winged females which drifted down from the hillside, a few of them even still had wings). I also caught two small spiders which were carried into the nest literally the moment they were encountered.
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Here's some nest pictures. There's not really anything special to say about them other than that they got even more pupae and larvae. The queen's gaster is thin though so I'm not expecting anymore eggs for the next weeks (maybe even months, because hibernation and stuff).
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Here are what I call the guardians of the water tube. During certain times of the day there's always a small group of ants sitting in the outworld's water tube. Not exactly sure what they're doing, I guess most of them are older workers that spend most of their time outside the nest. They rarely ever have big gasters.
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The Lasius are doing fine, too. They quickly grab every fruit fly I add to their outworld and are producing an increasing amount of brood.
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And lastly the ants that just gave me a serious headache. Yesterday night I made a last check on my colonies and saw something tiny walking around just outside the container. It was so tiny I could barely see it and it crawled around the shelf in a typical search pattern. Of course I instantly assumed it was a member of the Amber Family, the Solenopsis fugax, Germany's tiniest ant.
This meant that our ways would have to part due to them being uncontainable which was a shame because they just really started going through the roof in terms of brood development.
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Just look how many larvae and pupae they have! It took them such a long time to finally get on track.
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So at the next day I checked the shelf again, and once more noticed something moving. I quickly took the camera because it's macro is actually better than my eyes and shot a picture of it (this is actually the central 10% of that picture). To my relief it turned out to be a booklouse (or as we in Germany say to the versions that like it dry a dustlouse, neither of them are actually lice though) - which meant the Amber Family can stay with me for some longer.
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Definitely different (this picture is a macro shot through a 4x magnification glass, the worker is licking sugar water from the byFormica feeder which once more shows how ridiculously small these ants are).
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This last picture shows a size comparison of some Camponotus workers and the first dead Lasius niger nanitic. There isn't a dead Solenopsis fugax yet (at least not one I have found, they're basically invisible - it would probably be about as big as the Lasius' thorax segment), if I find one I'll make another picture.
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#24269
22nd October '17

Update time!


I have updated the starter post, it now contains a proper care sheet for this species if someone want to raise them, too. Food item list got updated as well. Be sure to check it out.




So, Lazy Tube has been surprisingly active over the last days, often there were 6+ ants working on the feeding dish with the bee pupae plus others dragging flies to nest and searching for more food (it's a bit hard to get them on a picture though, as soon as the red cam searchlight goes on half of them start to running for cover) and sometimes up to 20 ants outside at the same time.

Their food intake has dramatically increased - yesterday they ate 1 small spider, 4 green bottle flies and 2 bee pupae and the day before they chew through 1 bee pupa, 3 meat fly pupae and a few aphids. There even were a supermajor and a major outside doing tandem running to the sugar feeder (unfortunately I only spotted them when they were almost back inside the nest and didn't have my cam at hand).

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Major guarding the nest entrance.

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Inside the nest there's lots of fat larvae but surprisingly the pupae pile has stayed mostly the same size (with some fluctuation over the last days), currently larvae pupating and ants eclosing seem to balance out each other. It's really hard to tell how much brood they have because it's all over the place with tiny larvae in almost every corner of the nest (mostly in the top pupating chamber, the middle hallway and the water tube though).

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The Amber Family also does great, they have moved almost completely from their cotton pocket down to the bottom of the tube, got several new workers and lots of pupae. They too got offered a meat fly pupae and it looks like they like it. It's still kinda hard to make pictures of them outside the tube cause you know they're so tiny and stuff, also the red sand was a really bad choice for them. Theoretically they should go into hibernation soon but they don't show any signs of slowing down yet.

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You won't read any more news about the Lasius niger here because, well, they're getting their own journal. Lasius niger is a really cool ant species - they are incredibly resilient, active, fast growing, aggressive, recruit very effectively and utterly dominate areas they managed to establish themselves in, wiping out other ant colonies that happen to end up inside their territory with great efficiency. A lot of people think they're boring because they are so abundant and thus ordinary, but they are not. If they were boring they wouldn't be one of the most successful and dominating ant species in central Europe.


Link to their journal: http://www.formiculture.com/topic/7346- ... sius-niger
#24270
28th October '17

Look who I caught on picture when I woke up last morning!

She was NOT amused about the lights going on (in fact she looked surprisingly grumpy for an ant).

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They are breeding and they are breeding a lot.


It's kinda rare to see the queen in this chamber, usually she resides in the mid or upper part of the nest.

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After the first picture taken she usually moves into the outworld connector or the water tube (that's why I now make the water tube pictures first, even though they're always at the end of the picture list, that way I disturb her only once instead of twice). Here she's just moving out.

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This is one of the breeding hotspots.

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The upper right corner starts to look pretty crowded.

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Still room on the left port side

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This is the majority of the larvae, except those in the upmost chambers and the bottom chamber next to the garbage dump.

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Still room on the right port side but it's unlikely that they place brood so close to the entrance.

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The bottom breeding chamber and the garbage dump.

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Still lots of room on the bottom left side (this is where I add the water for hydration so it's probably the most moist part of the nest).

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For some reason they brought pupae into the water tube (they've done this before but only occasionally).

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Close-up of the top breeding chamber. It not just pupae there, in fact it's wild mixture of brood of all stages (except eggs).

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An Amber Family member collecting sand to pile up at the entrance.

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The completely moved out of their cotton pocket.

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Looks like the queen stopped laying eggs - I'm going to wait for most of the pupae to hatch and will then put them into hibernation. The brood seems to develop quite slowly for such small ants, my Lasius niger beat them by far in that regard.

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#24271
29th October '17

Halloween special!

Find the pumpkin ant! (revelation at the end of the post)
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So I checked on the Amber Family (had to refill their feeder and give them some food) and to my surprise they were quite active outside.
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About half a dozen workers fed from meat fly pupae and a small spider (the ones on the spider are hard to see).
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They also seem to have majors, sort of (if you can call them that, they're barely 3mm after all).
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The pupae seem to go nicely, most of them already look like ants.
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And here's the ominous pumpkin ant. It's quite well hidden, isn't it?
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(Actually there's even a second ant inside the pupa at the inner end of the crack but most of it's body is obscured by the pupa shell)
#24272
5th November '17

Lazy Tube is... still lazy.



Their food intake isn't low but it's not spectacular either. They eat about two bee pupae every two days and some green bottle flies. The fruit flies were just ignored.

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Guard buddies!

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There are some pupae in the nest but not as much as I had expected. They seem to be a bit on the slow side lately, maybe it's time to hibernate them soon.

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#24273
12th November '17

I cracked up the bee larvae while they were still frozen to share them with the Lasius niger (they can' eat a complete one) and the Camponotus seemed to like it, so this week I broke them all up.
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Something is happening - there's new pupae (the white ones are fresh).
Also they are looking less fat than they used to so I'm gonna increase their food load to see if anything changes.

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This one is from the other side.
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That brood blob in the water tube...
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#24274
16th November '17

These pictures were originally not intended for release (I just wanted to see how the ants are doing), so they're not as good as usual.
However I decided to post them anyway because, well, just look at them. I have no idea where all these ants are coming from.

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They eat a lot more right now, they chew through about 5-6 bee pupae per day.
Looks like there are some new eggs as well.
#24275
22nd November '17

To add or not to add, that is the question...
https://i.imgur.com/izjPDbP.jpg


The new nest is prepared, the heating cable mounted, the water tube attached.
I don't think they fill out the nest yet but I feel they are reaching the nest's limits in terms of brood storage.
Also having more room might actually encourage them to grow - currently pupating seems a bit stalled and I'm not sure if this comes from hibernation on the horizon or simply a perceived lack of nesting space.

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#24276
22nd November '17

Oh well, me stupid has just removed the pink cover foil I accidentally left on top of the glass all the time :whistle: and also added the second nest - the ants didn't like any of that. They brought all the brood (except those in the water tube) to the central part of the nest.
They have discovered that there is new space beyond the port but haven't really explored it in like the last 20 minutes. Only one worker was in so far and it only wandered as deep as maybe two centimeters. They put some majors in front of the port though (inside the old nest).

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#24277
27th November '17

They're now kinda active even during the day (activity at night is much greater though).
I made them a feeder full of diluted maple syrup but they don't seem interested however they do eat a lot of fish food (red mosquito larvae).
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One of the "mobile fuel stations" about to feed the guards at the entrance.
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The passage to the nest, usually there's one or two majors in there. When I mounted the screw to finally fix the tubing to the port two majors and a dozend smaller ants erupted from the entrance (they quickly calmed down though).
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They are starting to take over the new nest but only the upper part. The queen still remains mostly at the center of the old nest but there's a lof majors in the new one.
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New nest.
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Old nest.
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Old nest, lower part.
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Old nest, main brood hub.
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The garbage pile still looks kinda okay.
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New nest, top middle chamber.
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Old nest, top middle chamber.
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New nest, water tube. Not much going on yet, but they're actually using it.
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Old nest, water tube. Lots of eggs and small larvae in there, also a few pupae that look close to eclosing.
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#24278
1st December '17

Usually I'd wait another 2 to 5 days for an update but there's actually stuff happening.


They've brought a lot of brood into the new nest and there's a lot of pupating going on. In fact I think there's almost as many pupae in the new nest as in the old one.
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The old nest however has some really huge cocoons.
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The lower part of the new nest still isn't very popular.
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Unlike in the old nest.
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The new water tube is barely used for brood storage although sometimes there are about a dozen workers in it.
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Less brood in the old water tube, looks like a large part got moved out to warmer places.
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#24279
6th December '17

UPDATE! =)

I tried to up their food diversity a bit. Since they won't even look at fruit with their gasters meat was the way to go.
The burger beef was appreciated (which is kinda interesting cause the ingredients list said black pepper) although they mostly just licked it. The chicken they didn't really care about too much. I still have some pure meat cat food to try.
They also started to drag the food out of the feeding dish and scatter it across the outworld a few weeks ago but now they seem to actually drag stuff into the nest. Some parts from the last bee brood supply just vanished never to be seen again.
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There's a huge pupating wave happening right now. Also they took over the second nest and except for the lower part it almost looks like the old nest already.
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New nest:
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Old nest:
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The trash pile is looking... doubious. There seems to be some kind of wetness to it but I have idea how it got there unless the ants are watering it on purpose.
In the picture above you can see from the color of the bottom substrate that there is moisture spreading through the lower right part of the nest.
It also seems as if they started to carve out the bottom substrate in some spots and are throwing it onto the trash pile (I can recognize some of the shrimp pebbles from the feeding dish in the outworld as well).
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Brood and eggs in the old water tube as usual, nothing worth a picture in the new tube (there's like 3 ants in it).
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#24280
11th December '17

My ants are meat ants! They love minced meat (even when it's dried out they still chew on it).
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The colony is fairly active and they eats a surprising amount of food considering they have so many pupae. The pupating is going ahead nicely, lots of pupae are starting to turn brownish which means they're gonna hatch soon (next 1-2 weeks).
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Overview: New nest/ old nest.
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Upper part: New nest/ old nest.
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Lower part: New nest/ old nest. There's new pupa hull bits on the waste dump, a sign that the first workers of the current pupating wave have eclosed.
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Water tube: Old nest (nothing to see in the new nest). There's not much brood left in there but you'll see lots of tiny larvae scattered all over the nest on the pictures above.
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And now for some nice close-ups...

Huge batch of tiny larvae right in the center of this picture.
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The center of that pupae pile almost reaches the ceiling.
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Same here, before I disturbed them the pupae where nicely piled on top of each other like barrels in a storage facility.
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One of the big-headed majors (not the bigst one though).
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Another major near the pupating chamber.
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A major cleaning itself.
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#24281
16th December '17

The food trials continue and I landed a real hit with cat food (pure meat, no plant crap like Cassia gum in it). They even chew on it after it became dry.

Yesterday evening:
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This morning:
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This evening:
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Nest overview
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Upper part, old nest/new nest.
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Lower part, old nest/new nest.
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Here's the perspective from the other side. Those brood piles are HUGE.
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The water tube of the old nest, with a major looking nicely into the camera.
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A close-up of the brood pile.
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#24282
25th December '17

After noticing that they piled up garbage behind the water tube I drove the ants out of the outworld (which was kinda easy, I just hat to remove the towel to let daylight in which made all but a few brave workers hurried back into the nest) and properly cleaned the whole tank.

Look how much trash they stuck below the decorations and the water tube.
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This is probably why they're called sugar ants.
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They got some grashoppers which are currently the hot stuff of the season (they completely ignored them when I first gave them some about two months ago).
Here's a first one - two majors out at the same time...
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...which got immediately topped by three majors out at the same time.
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They also got some bacon cubes which were completely ignored (probably too salty).
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They really loved the grashoppers and managed to drag them all over the place.
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Added a second water tube cause the first one may run dry soon. There's already a worker in it.
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This was their "Antmas Eve Dinner", including half a roach which proved very popular. It seems like the key to getting this colony satisifed is food diversity.
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They quickly swarmed all over it.
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Lots going on at the entrance are as well - starting to look like you'd expect the entrance of a 500+ ant colony to look like.
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And here's the usual nest pictures.

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New nest/old nest.
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More eggs in the new nest, the next wave of brood is underway.
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Oh, and if anyone was wondering how the Amber Family (the Solenopsis fugax thief ants) are doing, I'd say they're doing well...
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#24283
28th December '17

Using the pictures from the 24th I made a COUNT.

This is the nest. I gave every recognizable ant a blue dot, then divided the nest into small sectors and counted the ants in those sectors by giving them purple dot.

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These two outworld pictures were taking quickly after another so there shouldn't be too much fluctiation. The amount of ants in the water tube (8) is an educated guess based on experience. In the end I counted 79 ants and rounded them up to 80 (as seen in the first picture).

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This brings us to the final number of
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visible ants.


Note that this count isn't their EXACT population - sometimes I had to make hard guesses when there were overlapping ants and obviously it does not include ants that were not visible, like ants hanging vertically on the backside of nest walls, ants in the connector between the two nests, ants in the water tube conenctor and the quite massive number of ants in the tubing from the nest to the outworld.

Those invisible ants included I would estimate them to a number of about 750-800 ants in total.

And just as a reminder... they were 4 workers in March.
#24284
29th December '17

Forgot to count 30 ants, edited above post...


And while we're at it here's some more pictures! :)

MEAT!
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They love it!
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I'm not sure what exactly is going on but I have a suspicion... you remember that odd stuff in my Sunburst bottle? I still don't know what it actually is but it got more (it also grows inside the feeders when they stand around for a week) - the ants don't seem to be affected by it so it's nothing bad but it might be some sort of bacteria eating away the sugar from the mixture... well, ever since I started to mix sugar water (1:2) with about 25% Sunburst (instead of pure Sunburst) the outworld acitivity of the colony has exploded...

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#24285
7th January '18

This is how it looks now every evening, lots of ants sitting at the entrance and a good number are foraging as well.
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They love baby roaches, unfortunately I ran out of them and you can't order the tiny ones.
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Bee brood is still popular, the problem is they drag them all over the place
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Feeding time!
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A few hours later...
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For some reason they're now drinking the diluted maple syrup after they ignored it for over 2 weeks.
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This seems to be a permanent satellite base now, there's always lots of workers in it.
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I just cleaned the outworld, this is all trash from last week!
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Nest pictures!
Lots of new ants have eclosed and there's significantly less pupae than a week ago. The remaining ones are mostly of brownish-golden color and should eclose soon as well.
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#24286
10th January '17

Feeding time again!
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This worker was actually trying to feed the dead one.
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Yes, the picture way too bright but that major looks really cute.
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Grasshoppers are still hot.
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I just watered the nest before taking pictures os there's a lot of condensation but you can see on the right side and the middle of the picture that they now carry food into the nest and eat it there.
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There's young brood across the entire center line of the nest, the most obviously concentrated in the middle chamber.
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They started to seal the second water source with cotton
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like they did with the first one.
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This is from today evening, they are preparing for the night foraging.
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