Keep your ant journals in here
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By Cyrus01
#17465
This is my first attempt at keeping ants and writing a journal.

19/10/2016
Today I received my Lasius Niger, thank you Luke @ antkit.
It looks to be a queen and about 15+ workers. There are also several small white things (technical term there ;-) ) I think they maybe larva. The cotton wool at the water side is a bit hollow and several hid in there when subjected to daylight.

Also when I opened the box I could see three ants pulling at the outer cotton wool, so I’m guessing they’re keen to get out of the tube. But for tonight I have wrapped the test tube in a piece of paper and left it still plugged in their new outworld.
I have also put the lid & ptfe on the outworld, last thing i want is an empty test tube & outworld. I do have a size four nest to attach once the colony is a bit bigger, but i may get a size two first.

The hardest part will be leaving them alone for a few days to settle in. I’m not going to hibernate them this first winter, but I will the next one.

So please feel free to join me on this new adventure into the ant keeping world. :-)

Colony stats
Workers: 15+
Larva: 5
Temp: 23.4 degrees
Humidity: 88% (new outworld and this is slowly dropping)
Attachments
Lasius Niger (2).JPG
Outworld.JPG
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User avatar
By Cyrus01
#17487
20/10/2016
I know I said I would leave it a few days, but having talked to some forum members I decided to remove the cotton wool plug and let them loose into the outworld.
Before doing so I placed a small piece of protein jelly in the end of a pipette (the RobJ way). With in minutes of removing the cotton wool there was a worker feeding shortly followed by a few more.

Two went off to explore the outworld, but soon returned to the tube. As I write this it's been an hour and there is a furry of activity around the jelly. No sign of the queen outside the tube, but it wouldn't expect it yet.

But several workers appear to be interacting with the queen, possibly food is being transferred as they are head to head with antennae touching each other. It's difficult to see as they're at the far end of the test tube.

I have ordered the size 02 nest from antkit, so hope to install that next week and leave the size 04 I have for later.
Hopefully the humidity will drop again soon.

Colony stats
Workers: 15+
Larva: 5
Temp: 22.8 degrees
Humidity: 98%
Attachments
image.jpg
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#17631
24/10/2016
Just a quick update to say that the workers have been very busy. They have built up sand/grit in the entrance of the test tube, i guess in an attempt to make the nest secure. As a result i can't really see any eggs or larva anymore as the sand/grit is covering the base of the tube. Its going to be fun getting them to move in to the new size 02 nest due this week.
I have placed a small test tube of sugar water in the outworld but haven't seen it in use yet.

Colony stats
Workers: 15+
Larva: ?
Temp: 23.2 degrees
Humidity: 95%
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#17666
26/10/2016
My orders from Antkit and Livefoods arrived yesterday.
The order from Antkit was my size 2 nest, I really do like their acrylic nests. That has now been connected to the outworld via the plastic tube and a 90 degree elbow. I have left the red acrylic cover on the test tube for now; hopefully they will find the new nest and move once the test tube is no longer suitable.
The livefood.co.uk order was the curly wing flys, the tub is teaming with life. So I dropped two into boiling water for a few seconds and then into the outworld. By the time I had cleared away the boiling water one of the flys had been dragged off (screaming and kicking if it hadn’t already been killed) into the test tube. I could see the fly being swarmed by workers and the queen.
This morning I went to check on the activity of the colony from last night and was surprised to see both flys sat outside the test tube. During clean up I discovered three workers were still feeding on one of the flys so I left them to it.

Colony stats
Workers: 15+
Larva: ?
Temp: 22.8 degrees
Humidity: 91%
Attachments
Outworld.jpg
Dinner.JPG
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#17818
31/10/2016
The colony is going strong, feeding well on flies and protein jelly. The size 02 nest is still connected, but they are still in the test tube, but not too worried about that for now.
I ordered one of these cheap clip on phone/camera lenses which arrived today.
These pictures are just a first attempt within the Outworld and test tube.


Colony stats
Workers: 15+
Larva: ?
Temp: 24.2 degrees
Humidity: 85%
Attachments
IMG_0925.JPG
IMG_0917.JPG
User avatar
By jeoff82
#17819
Nice journal so far, I keep most of my colonies in a similar setup. I think its too early for the acrylic nest yet, the test tube is adequate for them. Ants like a tight fit. I also leave the cotton wool in the end but pull it out slightly so there is a small gap otherwise they fill the end with sand though it makes no odds.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#17989
06/11/2016
They have spent the week piling up small stones in the entrance of the test tube. Its amazing how much they have moved, its nearly 2/3rd the height of the tube.
But in a strange turn of events they have started moving them back out again this morning, they are taking them from the inside base of the pile. They have cleared an area between the pile in the entrance and the cotton wool, where the queen is stood.
One ant is placing the stones by their food bowl and another is placing them under the test tube.
Hopefully this might be a sign they plan to move. Maybe in to the acrylic nest, but I’m not holding my breath.

They are feeding well on curly wing flies, taking one a day at the moment. They haven’t shown any interest in the honey or fruit, but I have seen them at the sugar water.
I think I counted 17 workers in the week, but I can’t be 100% sure as I can’t get them to stay in a line to count. :-D

I also received two of RobJs mini outworld this week, they are really well made. Not sure what I’m going to use them for yet. I think one will house a Messor Barbarus queen in March. :P

Colony stats
Workers: 17+
Larva: ?
Temp: 23.3 degrees
Humidity: 76%
User avatar
By MoonAnts
#18049
Very nice journal. :-)
Are you planning to hibernate them soon?
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18051
@MoonAnts thanks for the response, no i wasn't planning on hibernating them this first year.
Is that the right thing to do? :-/
They way i understand it is that its safe to not hibernate once, but after that the colony suffers.
Hopefully keeping them awake these next few months will allow the colony to grow and get established.
I do have a garage that drops to between 10 to 15 degrees that i could use to hibernate. But i was planning to buy something that had temperature control for next year.
User avatar
By MoonAnts
#18053
Normally, Lasius Niger hibernate every year. Even when it's just the queen and brood. However, there is a journal somewhere of a Lasius Niger colony that never hibernated.
I would recommend hibernating them because I don't know how much damage it does if you don't do it. My Lasius Niger and Flavus are hibernating too and they're doing fine. Maybe there's someone with more experience who can help you better than me :-)
User avatar
By 1000101010
#18054
i'm hibernating mine but only because i have no way to keep them warm as my bedroom is 10c this time of year.
User avatar
By andavane
#18062
I reckon it's a sound idea to hibernate them.
Perhaps even if for a shorter period of, say 14 weeks.
It's to do with their biorhythm wotsits!
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18073
08/11/2016
Hey guys, thanks for all the advice.
I have placed a digital thermometer in the garage to see what its range is over the next few days. Its the only place i can think that may get cold enough. It's something I want to think about for the next week.

The colony is still living in the original test tube and I have now seen them at the honey water, but apple continues to be a no go.

Tonight I got the iphone/ camera macro lense out again with some additional light, and was amazed to find at least a dozen larva in the depths of the cotton wool. That explains why queenie has been glued to that spot and the curly wing flys are a favourite at the moment.

The humidity continues to drop in the outworld now the grout has had a couple weeks to dry out. But I'm still adding humidity to the acrylic nest every other day in the hopes they will move in.

Colony stats
Workers: 17+
Larva: 12
Temp: 25.1 degrees
Humidity:68%
Attachments
image.jpg
image.jpg
User avatar
By 1000101010
#18081
that second picture is like something out of a horror movie. and my l nigers brood isn't nearly that impresive
User avatar
By jeoff82
#18087
How about keeping them in the attic if you have access? I built a room in my attic and keep mine up there all year round, it stays near outside temp though gets very warm in the summer. Ideal place to keep them if you can, dark, undisturbed and stable temperatures.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18128
I like the idea of the loft, but not practical I'm my case. No easy loft access and I want to view them daily. As for hibernation this year I have decided that this year I won't be hibernating them. I can see the reasoning behind doing, and I will be doing it next winter. By then I will have a better understanding and a few more colony's. The plan would be to invest in a lucky reptile or exo terra nursery for better control. Please don't see this as me ignoring your advice.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18302
18/11/2016

The colony continues to grow, this morning I managed to count 18 workers. But I still can’t fully see within the cavity in the cotton wool plug.

The brood continues to grow, there now appears to be double the number of larvae (30+). So hopefully by the New Year my colony could be up to 40-50, not accounting for any natural deaths of the older generations. :-D

They are still in the original test tube and have plenty of water remaining. This week they have been offered sugar water, honey and apple, with 2 curly wing flies every other day. So far they have only taken the one fly and I have seen them at the sugar water and honey.

They continue to build the pile of sand/grit at the entrance of the test tube. There is now only a couple mm opening at the top to get in and out, so no chance of Queenie getting her butt past.

As of yet still no interest in the attached size 02 acrylic nest, I haven’t even seen a single ant checking out the entrance to the pipes. :-(
I'm tempted to remove the red acrylic cover from the test tube in an attempt to get them to move out. But they must be happy as the colony is growing as it is, so i must be patient and wait.

Colony stats
Workers: 18+
Larva: 30+
Temp: 23.2 degrees
Humidity: 67%
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18512
28/11/2016

So i think its fair to say that queenie and her girls have gone into hibernation. At least i think they have, they have blocked the test tube with sand and haven't taken any food in weeks.
I haven't seen them at the honey or sugar water either, but i'm continuing to offer them fresh every 3-4 days.
They are just all huddled up at the back of the test tube with mum in the middle.
They are still at room temp, but i guess when that time of the year comes there is nothing you can do to stop it.
How important is it to bring the temp down to 10 degrees?
I'm currently trying to source one of these Lucky reptile herp nursery that look really good for hibernation. Its going to have to be at the right price as i don't think her indoors will allow the expense of a new one at short notice. :-(
My garage temp is like a yoyo at the moment so i want something to provide a stable environment and hopefully the herp nursery will.
If i do manage to get one i will start in the house first, slowly bringing the temp down over the next month.

Colony stats
Workers: 18+
Larva: 30+
Temp: 21.8 degrees
Humidity: 61%
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18658
03/12/16

I picked up the lucky reptile herp nursery today. I plan to use it to hibernate my lasius niger.
I have run it a few hours and it's holding nicely at 9.3 degrees. The plan is maybe tomorrow set it to 20 degrees and place the lasius niger and their outworld with test tube inside. Then over the next couple weeks drop the temp back to 9 degrees. Probably dropping temp a few degrees each 3-4 days.
Can anyone foresee a problem with that?

This little ant queen and workers was kindly given to me by Luke at Antkit a few months ago. He took them out of his personal collection as Antkit didn't have any stock and weren't going to in the near future.
My heart goes out to Luke and family at this time.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18691
I will update with pics once they are in hibernation.
One more question before i put them into hibernation.
I have been reading on the forum about hibernation and its effects on brood.

At the moment they have brood and it looks to be mostly larvae, is it safe to still hibernate now?
I have read its ok to hibernate with larvae and pupae, but eggs will die.
I have also read that you shouldn't hibernate with brood as it will all die and go mouldy.

Any advice would be great.

I promise they will get into hibernation one day, it maybe summer before they do at this rate. :-D
User avatar
By Leafcutter
#18694
Hi,

It shouldn't be a problem as there are many larvae. If the ants are still developing at a steady rate, it might be a good idea not to hibernate.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#18699
Would appear they are destined to not hibernate this year. I can see several larvae but there are also some pale coloured workers, I guess they're newly hatched.
So to hibernate or not, I hate making decisions.
User avatar
By 1000101010
#18701
personally i'm hibernating my ants even though there are some suspiciously big larva considering how little i've fed them
User avatar
By Cyrus01
#19364
07/01/2017

So to the first update of the new year. They haven't been very active last couple of months as expected, but as their not hibernating there has been some movement.

They are still feeding ok, a curly wing or bean weevil each week. The sugar water is going down well and they don't seem to be touching the honey.

My only concern is that there main test tube is running low on water, it hasn't been topped up since arrival but its now down to about quarter full. So i have a couple new 100mm test tube on standby ready to provide a new home.

But today i noticed one of the workers was out on their daily wander and she found the entrance to the Antkit acrylic nest. So i'm making sure its nice and dark and damp. Lets hope they use it as a new home once the test tube goes dry.

The majority of the colony is still hiding in the cotton wool of the test tube so im unsure as to the numbers, but i can still see loads of workers and brood. So lets hope in the next month or so things will really kick off.

I'm planing on buys a second colony in March, so here's to a fun ant keeping year.

Colony stats
Workers: ?
Larva: ?
Temp: 24.3 degrees
Humidity:51%
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