Keep your ant journals in here
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By scarletAsh
#17627
Well having been on these forums for nearly a year and this being my 200th post... I thought it was about time I actually opened up a Journal. In fact I plan to open up a series of journals to fill out. Of course the question to be asked is where do I begin? I imagine my favourite ant species. Before I get started though I will just announce the other journals I will be making at some point. These will be:

Camponotus pseudolendus
Crematogaster sordidula
Eventually Acromyrmex octospinosus.

Will for now keep it to a simple healthy 4. Especially as hibernation is around the corner for the rest.

Camponotus habereri

On the 15th of December 2015 I decided to finally take a gamble and be willing to put up a good portion of money for a colony I had wanted. Nervous of course as ants can be quite a risky investment especially when you haven't had your hand at keeping exotic species with requirements other than room temperature = A* but alas my wanting for more ant busyness got the better of me while the rest of my colonies slept. To be honest I make it sound like some horrible toss and turning of the mind. In truth I thought to myself "Christmas" and like that I made the purchase, not to say the previous doubts didn't have some pop up in my head. Anyway back to the story telling.

Christmas came slightly late in the end for me with my colony arriving just before New Years. The delay was anticipated (I say anticipated. It was quite obviously displayed across the top of the Antkit home page.) though with Antkit celebrating Christmas themselves + their wise decision to not risk losing ants in the Christmas mail rush I certainly didn't mind.

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She arrived with 6 of her daughters and a pile of brood. Of course I was quite ecstatic and straight away put her in the spotlight for a couple of pictures as seen above. I wasn't too abrupt though and soon retired her to some darkness. This was where the first embarrassing part comes into play. For how joyful I was I soon clocked on I can't put an entire test tube on a heat mat with 0 temperature control. I wasn't organised well enough either to think about formicarium straight away. Now a little panicky because I wouldn't want to lose the queen (Looking back I don't think there was ever much risk of it in the first place. If anything this is more a good example of where paranoia merges into ant care).

I made a compromise. I had a spare antikit arena, a habistat and a heatmat ready. I taped some cotton wool into the centre of the arena. Placed the arena on the heat mat and then put a temperature probe through one of the ports and the habistat sensor through the other. To me this seemed brilliant though it probably did give a little bit too much open air vibe. It took the ants an hour to decide to begin tearing up the cotton wool and dragging it into the entrance. Here's a picture of my beautiful set up at the time. I take that back. Turns out I didn't really get a picture of this bastardized set up I wish to have once called a formicarium. The picture shows only a little bit of it as I pictured an ant nosing about around a cricket I had placed in there just in case they were hungry. I was quite generous with the portion I gave them.

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As you can kind of see there is taped down cotton with some more cotton taped down on top of that to create a sheath in which the test tube sat fairly comfortably still.

They continued in this set up only briefly as I had come across the new AC hybrid nest which has a feed for a heat cable and everything. At first glance I was rather impressed and so felt quite eager to get one. It took quite a while to arrive but by February it finally got to my door. Sadly during this period I severely lack any record. The only thing I can say is the colony plodded along nicely with a couple of new arrivals and stayed inside the test tube connected to the AC hybrid nest for quite some time uninterested in seeing the new fancy nest in front of them. It was over sized in truth for what they needed at their current size.

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Come March they were now 36 strong with a small brood freshly laid by the queen and a couple ready to hatch. Everything is going smoothly. Apart from paranoia was once again setting in strong. My Myrmica rubra came out of hibernation and a mite infestation was in full force. I quickly became obsessed with checking over my Camponotus habereri on a regular basis non stop scanning over them with a digital microscope. I did take quite a few photos though because of this. I'll have a display bellow in the spoiler. (WARNING: Contains 14 large images for anyone who has a device that will struggle with such.)
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Picking up after the queen.
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As snug as a bug.
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Wondering what that light is.
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Who needs 6 legs anyway?
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Continuing on from Mrs 5 legs anyway I do have a sequence here where you can see her gaster move during the act of trophallaxis.
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April was now here and over the past 30 odd days very little growth was made by the colony. I suspect it is partly because I had a bright light on them everyday of March. The brood understandably hadn't grown much but no more eggs appeared to have been laid either. Anyway past that I perhaps allowed excitement to get the better of me and decided I would now make my Habereri with a beautiful size of 36 an out world.

I wanted an out world as the fear of mites was still ever present and before that I had been feeding them by directly connecting test tubes full of goodies to the nest itself. This inside of a nest too large for the current population of ants = as you would guess a very messy formicarium. It's quite simple logic. It probably wouldn't have been such a bad idea to move them into a smaller formicarium altogether. After all 90% of the time they were all bunched up. The reason I suppose I never did was that I felt the heating method involved was working and I didn't want to tamper with anything that seemed to be working.

Of course as said above I had kind of figured out shining bright lights into the queens eyes was not working too well. Yes I would expect a quiet period between batches of eggs but this was just a little bit meh. Even if not responsible for the lack of eggs it still isn't a good idea anyway.

My out world wasn't too fancy. It was a 13mm port ant kit arena. I used their sand, plaster of paris, some fake plants and a plastic slate arch way to create it.
Wallah!
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Clearly beautiful but the practicality would bite me in the arse once the under side of the arch way became their new dump. Not an easy place to clean.

I decked it out with a lovely 12mmx75mm test tube full of sugar water which quaintly sat to one side. It was enough to at least drag my ants out into the out world. April carried on without much change in terms of colony size. Towards the end of the month their current nest was starting to look worse for wear and AC had recently released V2 of their hybrid nest so I thought to myself screw it I'll get one and change them over, clean up my old one and use it for another ant species. Moving them took a couple of days but was very easy. I simply connected the two nests and had the heat cable only run through the new one. Once they were in I disconnected the old giving it a good clean and a few days in the freezer.

Come May things would remain the same but at last some more eggs would be delivered. Not many but enough to put a smile on a young mans face. After this there is quite a gap between pictures therefore I will skip forward to the beginning of

August.
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At around 60 workers with quite a nice brood they had settled in absolutely fine to the new nest from months previously and actually did quite a good job of using the out world as their waste disposal site. Regrettably their first and second choice of dumping was under the arch and in the fake flora. At least I could actively clean though without disturbing the nest. My only concern is with plaster of paris it can mold quite badly. Luckily as it was bone dry this hasn't been occurring as I'm quite on the cleaning aspect of the whole thing. Everything is seemingly going well... And I am pleased to say remained that way.

I will quickly show you the set up I had at the time with these ants.
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Top: Left = Camponotus habereri, Far Right = Camponotus pseudolendus (I will go into how one size doesn't fit all in their journal. They have proved challenging)
Level Bellow: Temporary Formica sanguinea (Long story short briefly moved them into their out of their old nest as stagnant growth with sudden large death count in previous nest), The arenas contain just some foods I would regularly rotate for feeding. Gyna lurida was a big win and huge favourite for the habereri but keeping them was an utter nightmare. They fly, are quick as lightning and can climb any surface basically.


I had to connect the habereri to an old AC hybrid nest. Yes it was introducing a lot of unnecessary space which could have become a dumping ground but I couldn't fit my habistat sensor inside the new nests which posed a problem of the heat cable going nuts temperature wise. I kept it connected as well out of curiosity to see if they'd prefer the higher humidity offered by the AC hybrid nest internal set up. Result is rather inconclusive.

September They had become a greedy bunch consuming food at an impressive rate. Was getting through 2 roaches and multiple wax worms + a variety of other protein sources a week. They were also drinking the sugar water filled 12mmx75mm test tube dry every 2 - 3 days. Their gasters were full, the air was moist, the ants were nice and hot. The queen was ready to give some. A boom of white mess everywhere all over the place. Clumps of eggs to be seen in all corners.
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Heres some from a little earlier.
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October. What had surprised me most was the development of the brood during this period. over a month and a half they were tearing through development.
Don't let the angle fool you there are a lot more there than the eye can see.
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They seemed to have had a preference for the heat source next to the ultra high humidity of the second nest. (The second nest is quite badly stained from the previous 2 lots of occupants - Myrmica rubra followed by Formica sanguinea) Also note the reason why half looks black. This is because half the substrate underneath is sphagnum moss while the other half is cotton wool. A problem I have had this month was that every few days 1 - 2 workers would die. At first I assumed maybe it's just the generational gap however I clocked on it was because I was still supplying the sugar water via the 12x75 test tube which allowed only 2 - 3 ants in at any one time. After using a large test tube allowing a much greater amount to collect at once I have not experienced another death. Could have been that the supply wasn't able to meet the demand.

Everything is running smoothly and tonight I can see some new batches of freshly laid eggs once again. Their hunger remains insatiable.

One more thing to note as well. After almost 10 months. Finally. Finally the big guns have shown up at the party.
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I've counted 6 in the nest so far. Am of course as happy as a clown.

I will conclude the journal here for now as I have been ages writing it. Believe it or not I actually started this about 11pm.

Thank you for reading thus far ^_^.
Occultus liked this
User avatar
By scarletAsh
#17743
Had the very bazaar situation of having had all the ants move out of the nests and under the plastic slate arch way in the out world. The reason for this was because I topped up the hydration inside the nests with 15ml of water. Something I typically do once a week to a week and a half but obviously as I was trialing sphagnum moss it doesn't quite have the same capacity to hold water as cotton wool so what this caused was a slight mild flood in the lower chambers of nest 1 (Beige). This must have quickly sparked a reaction to flee to the much drier out world where quite a few are still residing.

After initially panicking as I normally do I decided I would take the opportunity to give the nests a good clean. I also changed the first nest to a earlier version of the brown nest and will just be sticking with cotton wool now. Little bit of drama to add to the journal at least.

The important thing is the queen has now moved back and ants are now slowly bringing in brood from outside so hopefully through the night they will settle. On another plus note as well it was great to watch all the activity that was happening inside of the out world.

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#19219
31 / 12 / 16

This will simply be a short text entry. Not much to expand on.

Not much as really happened. There are quite a lot of pupae waiting to eclose which is welcomed as this past month - 2 months have had the death of about 20 - 25 workers which has been somewhat worrying though I have put it down to a generation dying off as the ants appearing dead are the smaller workers. All the majors and ants easily identifiable as "New" to the colony are still showing signs of fine health and the queen continues laying small batches of eggs on a regular basis now. Typical routine is being taken in their care which has never showed issue and I ensure a variety of fruits and invertebrates so can't think of what could be wrong else wise anyway.

On a second note I have created a new out world for them which is significantly larger which allows great viewing of them doing their routines in the out world.

I will write another entry as soon as the bulk of current pupae are hatched and comment further on the deaths occurring.
#20134
12 / 02 / 17 - Update

Just going to give brief details and some pictures sorry. Not too much to indulge in.

Quick run down of the conditions I am keeping them in:
> 25°C - 26°C internal nest temperature
> 22°C - 25°C Out world temperature
> Diet: Protein = mostly Wax Worms Achroia grisella, sugar water, water, honey
> Since 03 / 02 / 17 have been living in a Nardimai Signum Nest

Key points of happening:
1) Had a die off of around 30 - 40 workers (Has now halted and occurred over the period of approximately 2 months. Cause is unknown. Possibly linked to generation as had no deaths occur of the larger Majors which are notably "Newer" to the colony than the small workers which were the ones dying)

2) Moved nest - Their previous nesting was 2 Ants Canada Camponotus Hybrid Nests connected to a custom built out world. They now reside in a Nardimai Signum Nest which comfortable fits the size of the colony.
Main reasons for this change:
- They don't particularly appear to like the damp area inside a hybrid nest rendering half the nest uninhabited. The Signum though easily moistened offers a lot of dry area within the nest.
- Mold outbreak within one of the hybrid nests - As the moist area within the hybrid nests were not being used and altogether avoided it was starting to become the dumping grounds of the colony. Build up over several months began to result in some interesting looking growths within the nest. Though not necessarily a direct threat to the health of the colony it is best to play it safe.
- On top of the mold there was beginning to be an increase in mite activity within the nest. No mites seemed to be too interested in the ants but it allowed for quite a breeding ground of mites which were growing too strong in numbers and at the very least they are not pleasing to look at.
- The Nardimai Signum Nest inhabited by the "Larger" ant species Camponotus habereri with a colony size of approximately 180+ makes for something very aesthetically pleasing. Had several people compliment and show interest in the hobby just because of seeing this set up whereas the "Modest" AC Hybrid nests were usually over looked.

3) Extremely low activity in January. This has been a huge contrast compared to last year and summer and one that has left me a little baffled. The species is not a hibernating species as far as I or most are aware and their geographical location would also indicate that they do not hibernate however the activity levels of the colony were at a huge low especially over the period of December and January. The activity level is now beginning to rise again. No brood appeared to hatch or even particularly grow. The activity levels rising may coincide neatly with the moving of the nest and the now finished die out of lots of workers so as to the cause for this I do not know.

This kind of contains most that I can cover. Truth be told my health is in a little bit of a shoddy way at the moment and perhaps is now starting to lean on me neglecting what I have. I am being sure to pump more effort which I have available into preserving my ants and getting back on track with things and plans I made before my little bodily spat.

A few pictures to end on.

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#21400
29 / 03 / 17 - Update

So good fun over the past month. The colony has really come back to live and charging on through. 2 deaths since the last with both doing the waddle of death in the out world for a couple of hours before tipping over. So once again quick overview.

Quick Overview:
> 27°C - 31°C internal nest temperature - Really ramped the heat up in their nest for the last couple of weeks. This was matched by attaching a satellite nest at a safe 24°C so if they didn't like it they could find home elsewhere. Also to note as well, the signum nest heats from the top downwards rather than the bottom up. This may have a far different overall temperature effect throughout the nest.
> 25°C Out world temperature
> Diet: Morio worms, Madagascan hissing cockroaches, pure honey, small bits of pink lady apples and lots of sugar water.
> Since 03 / 02 / 17 have been living in a Nardimai Signum Nest. Have their old AC hybrid nest attached as further options but they don't really have interest in it.
> Approximately.... Unsure how many workers. Hard to tell but roughly around 210 give or take 20 - 30.
> Lots of fresh eggs and larvae at all stages.

So this colony is doing swimmingly well once again absolutely nailing it. Their protein intake has gone up massively where I'm feeding an entire Morio worm every 2 days and the abdomen of a Madagascan hissing roach once a week. They've gotten through just under 3 test tubes of sugar water since the last update and half a test tube of normal water. Add to this I regularly give them honey their overall consumption is sky rocketing. Where last year their activity outside the nest was up to 10 on an extremely good night (Most active at around 03:00) around midnight will have 10 - 15 outside the nest and once food is placed get to watch a great swathe of around 30 swarm to the food. I haven't seen the queen in around a month as I imagine she is buried by her daughters. Also to add to this their are a couple of super majors larger than her as well makes it hard to tell. Anyway back to it. Haven't seen her but a constant flow of fresh eggs is all I need for reassurance.

This species continues to be my favourite with their coloration and speed of development. They're like a premium Camponotus nicobarensis in my opinion.

EDIT: Forgot to add the 2 photos
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#22996
16/07/2017

General Note
It has been close to 4 months since I last updated. I have been very busy with both Uni and sorting out living elsewhere. Sadly my landlord isn't too favourable with ants and I will have a lot less space so I'm having to cut down my species greatly in terms of what's around me. I will however be keeping my Camponotus habereri and Pogonomyrmex rugosus with me while my parents have kindly offered to allow me to keep my Acromyrmex, lasius species, Messor barbarus and Crematogaster sordidula with them until I can hopefully find better accommodation. To quickly cover my Pogonomyrmex rugosus. They have been punishing. the queen I am certain is semi-claustral and penalizes heavily for even the slightest of disturbance. She has had brood and larvae in all stages which she has raised and consumed. She ate one of her own daughters and 2 others died through a test tube reservoir failing. She is by herself continuing the same cycle of laying brood, look after and raise brood to then eat larvae just before they're fully fledged workers. Onto my habereri.

Care Overview
>Formicarium: Nardimai Signum nest, 2x AntsCanada Hybrid nests (Small, Camponotus design)

>Temperature: As always on a heat cable connected to a habistat thermostat. The past 2 months the heat cable hasn't even been on as my room has been consistently over 25°C

>Humidity & Moisture: Room humidity, wet cotton wool in both hybrid nests, water test tube set up in Nardimai Signum nest.

>Diet:
>>Protein: Predominantly adult hissing cockroaches and dubia roaches. Also wax worms, morio worms, curlywing flies and crickets. I haven't bothered with meal worms as find morio worms superior and to have a better shelf life. I am no longer breeding live foods due to limitations on "Pets allowed". Routine of feeding - completely mixed. Min = 6 days with no protein. Max = Buffet of each live food on a day. The appeared 6 day abstinence is normally just because they've been over fed.
>>Sugar: Sugar water, pure honey. Lots and lots of cherries, occasional apple wedge.
>>Other: Constant supply of water

>Worker Count: Honestly unknown. I would guess around 400 min. Had about 40 die offs the passed 2 months but 0 deaths the past couple of weeks.

Comments
The species overall continues to do very well. They certainly have their waves in egg production. I personally find / think a bulk feed and then an abstaining of feeding protein causes the queen to do mass bursts of egg production plus ensures that the ants are thorough with the food in front of them. The colony size is above the AntStore estimate of 100 and personally I think by the end of summer next year I should be expecting 1000+ of these ants which would put the colony at approximately 3 years in age from the queens nuptial flight.

I've always stated that this species is shy. Oh how things have changed. With their boost in size this species has gone from very cautious and shy to full on aggressive. I cannot interact with this colony without them rushing whatever contact I have with them and straight away biting whatever they can get their jaws on. Luckily I haven't been bitten by any of the Super Majors which certainly have a lot more punch (Perhaps pinch would be a better term) behind them. The standard workers cause 0 pain. It's best described as a tickling sensation as they go crazy on your skin. Their jaws are too stubby to cover enough surface area to effectively nip the skin. Rather the jaws just continue to "Massaging".

I have finally since February managed to lay eyes on the queen once again. Even though her health was evident with the egg production it's always nice to get a view of the glorious lady herself. You can see here in this picture underneath. She is in the top left corner. I'm sure you'll be able to notice her.
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Approximate Population Growth
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My Personal Perception of Growth Trend (Not Necessarily an Accurate Depiction)
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Pictures
This is a picture of the out world. Currently quite messy, Two nights ago I gave them 2 Madagascan hissers, a dubia roach and a cricket. I would remove them but they still seem to be scouring the corpses. As you can see though they seem to be decorating the outside of their nest with the internal goods.
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Here is a picture of them enjoying some raw honey smeared around a feeding bowl. This species is actually quite good with raw honey. They'll pile around it but remain out of it and I have witnessed them pull out a sister who once accidentally fell in the honey. Just to note the honey is always kept shallow to prevent full submersion of any one ant.
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A few on the wooden centerpiece
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A picture of the current set up I have for this colony
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End of entry,
thank you for reading.

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