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By Cyrus01
So the day has finally come and I have my second colony.
This time I went for a colony of Messor Barbarus (red heads). I purchased them from AntsMynala Monday evening just gone and the arrived Wednesday. Really impressed with the shipping and packing. I ordered a queen plus 21-30 and got a queen with 36 + brood.
Thank you Jon for sorting that out.

At the moment they are in a test tube set up with a small pile of seeds. The test tube is still in its original packaging with poly chips. This should be nice and dark and warm. Temp out side the box is 24.9 degrees without a heat source.

I have one of Antkits fantastic size 02 nests and modular areas on order for them. Along with a test tube connector to allow me you use the arena with a test tube to start with.

Messor Barbarus seam to be popular at the moment with several topics on the forum about new colonies. With plenty of info to help me out, but I'm sure I will have questions.

I went for the 21-30 workers for two reasons. One I'm impatient and two to avoid the founding stage which I read is difficult to get right.

So just a few questions to start with.
1. They have seeds now, when do I need to start with protein and how often?
2. I read that they are easy to stress. With a colony of 36 and past the founding stage, Is it safe to check on them once a week. Or is that to often?
3. When does the different classes come along, I.e. medias and majors?

Colony stats
Workers: 36
Brood: yes
Temp: 24.9
Humidity: unknown yet

If you have read this far thank you, and I welcome any advice.
Messor Barbarus
Last edited by Cyrus01 on Thu May 11, 2017 6:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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User avatar
By milant
Hi. I have a colony roughly the same size as yours and my colony only gets stressed if a bright light is shined on them (sometimes I like to check on my cockroaches which I breed next to my ants). They seem fine with a normal bedroom light and daylight too. They definitely do better in total darkness though. You should already start seeing some media workers.

They can survive for a very long time on just seeds as that makes up the vast majority of their diet although they do love a little variety every so often. I'd reccommend you to buy a bag of variety seeds and put a few of each seed type for them to find their favourite. My colony loves these little orange seeds but every colony is different
User avatar
By Serafine
Cyrus01 wrote:1. They have seeds now, when do I need to start with protein and how often?

You might want to offer them some protein when they have brood but be aware that they can also extract protein from the seeds, so don't worry if they don't take much direct protein food (unlikely, but may happen).

Cyrus01 wrote:2. I read that they are easy to stress. With a colony of 36 and past the founding stage, Is it safe to check on them once a week. Or is that to often?

Should not be an issue. If you want to disturb them as little as possible you can get a flashlight and mount some red foil on it (don't point it directly on the nest). Contrary to popular believe Ants can in fact see red light but they usually don't react very much to it, especially if it is of low intensity. My Camponotus usually check out their tube entrance when I watch them under red light, I think they've already learned that red light means food :-D

Cyrus01 wrote:3. When does the different classes come along, I.e. medias and majors?

That depends on the colony and on how much protein they can acquire. With access to more protein ants often produce more large workers. I don't know about Messor but it's said that Camponotus usually start producing majors at about 100 workers (my Campos however have produced a Media as their 6th worker, so... well... I guess it depends on the colony).
User avatar
By Cyrus01
So this morning I checked on the messors. I found 4 workers pulling at the cotton wool plug. Another worker had got stuck trying to squeeze past that same plug.
The rest of the workers were at the other end of the tube with the queen.

So I figured they wanted more room and I wanted to free the trapped worker.
The new set up I have ordered for them from Antkit still hasn't arrived. So I have taken the size two nest off my Lasius Niger set up, they weren't using it anyway.
I have removed the plug from the test tube, placed a small piece of pvc tube using cotton wool to plug the gap between the pvc and glass tube. Then on the other end of the pvc tube I have connected the size two nest.

Instantly the messors have ventured out into the new nest. A few seeds, the remains of a dead worker and a loose piece of cotton wool has been taken into the new nest.

Not really what I wanted but it's given them abit more room, even if it just cleans all the mess from the test tube.

Until my order arrives this set up will do.
messor temp set up.JPG
User avatar
By Cyrus01

So my antkit order arrived today. Size 02 nest and modular out world.
Very impressed with the set up.
The set up was put together within no time and the only problem I found is the test tube they were in wasn't big enough to use the antkit test tube adapter.

So I had to transfer the messors to the test tube that came with the adapter. That started well and they moved across to the new tube. In no time.

With the move completed I came to separate the two tubes, this went horribly wrong. The second I started to remove the joining tape the messors ran to investigate.

Not sure what happened next. At one point I had two workers on my arm and one stuck to the tape. I quickly inserted the tube adapter and connected it to the out world. Then using the antkit invoice removed the two escaped workers from my arm and placed them into the outworld
The half dozen workers that had run back into the old test tube were tapped out into the outworld as well.

So with the move complete I set the new setup on to a shelf and there they will stay for a while to charm down.

The queen is in the new test tube with most of the colony. There are some in the outworld and a few keep going in and out of the new size 02 nest. As far as I can tell just the one death.

User avatar
By Cyrus01

A quick update to say I placed a pile of seeds in the outworld last night and they had been moved to the nest within the hour.

I have just put the head of a cotton bud soaked in honey water into the empty food bowl. Within minutes a single worker found it. With 5 minutes there was a feeding frenzy.

User avatar
By milant
Remember to also supplement with insect protein whilst the colony is still so small. The majors you have (if any) will struggle to produce enough ant bread to feed the brood. When I first provided insect protein I saw a massive boom in egg laying and development
User avatar
By Cyrus01
So i have just placed two curly wing flies in to the Messors food bowl, they were instantly set on by a dozen workers.
One fly was transferred to the test tube/nest, the other fly was dragged around the outworld by a solo worker. I'm amazed at how strong the Messors are. One worker carrying a fly twice if not three times its size on its own and clearly lifted off the ground.
I left as the second fly entered the nest, never to be seen again.

I didnt think i had any majors :-( I have some workers that are larger than others but i guess that's either due to their age or the a later generation.
Really looking forward to the Majors.
Im amazed at how much more active these ants are over my Lasius Niger.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
Just want to check that messor barbarus don't need sugar water?
Just the way they took that honey the other day say to me they do.
I have had a small test tube of sugar water in the out world and they have shown no interest the couple days it's been there.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
Ok thanks, maybe they filled up on the honey for now. I'm sure I read somewhere they didn't need it. What do you think honey once, twice a week or just leave sugar water test tube in there?

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User avatar
By Cyrus01

The Messors are still very aggressive feeders, within a minute of dropping in honey or a fly the workers are at it.
I'm finding these fun to watch as they are alot more active than my lasius nigers. I have noticed a vast range in size of workers too. The smaller ones will work together to pick up a fly that the larger ones will carry on their own. I have found they like to climb the sides of the outworld but the Antkit PTFE barrier stops them getting tot he lid.

The Messors also have a nice pile of brood at most stages now, so the next generation will be here soon. Still waiting for my first major. :-)

Colony stats
Workers: 31
Brood: yes
Temp: 24.9
Humidity: 47%
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User avatar
By Zag
Hey, I see that your very eager to get your majors and you probably aren't that far off. My messor.B colony just got over the one hundred worker mark and I have 3 big majors. But I feed them medium sized dubia roaches once or twice a week. I got my first major when there where around 50 workers.

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User avatar
By Cyrus01
I have been thinking about Dubai roaches for a while, just unsure of the size to get. Might try some small ones first.

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User avatar
By milant
Cyrus01 wrote:I have been thinking about Dubai roaches for a while, just unsure of the size to get. Might try some small ones first.

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I recommend buying 3-4x as many adults as babies. The babies seem to encourage the adults to breed. Buying adults is the fastest way to turn into a succesfulllcolony
User avatar
By Cyrus01
I have noticed a new strange behaviour. each morning they move the brood from the test tube in to the first 90 degree connector. But by the end of the day they have moved it back to the test tube.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
Great news today, I think I have my first majors.
It also looks like I'm up to 55+ workers now, finding it hard to count them.
Also while I was trying to photograph the majors queenie decided she didn't want to be in n the picture and moved to the outworld. After doing a lap of the out world she went back in the the opposite entrance she came out and has ending up in the size two Antkit nest instead of her test tube. That was an hour ago and she is still there.
Please could someone confirm from the photo that these are majors. The ones with the pale large heads bottom left of the pic. Their queen is in the centre.


Colony stats

Workers: 55+
Brood: Yes
Temp: 22.3 degrees
Humidity: 66%
Last edited by Cyrus01 on Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Cyrus01
Ok thanks, that's a shame was getting excited. What's the role of the median workers within the colony?
User avatar
By Cyrus01
So queenie didn't stay in the size two nest. Is it because it's to small? Is it worth me putting my spare size four on instead. As I said I think there is about 50-60 workers.

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User avatar
By milant
I recently moved mine into a size 4. Like most other ants they enjoy tight spaces. I'd say to leave them be until they start spilling out into the connecting tube

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