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By AKF
#1811
Loving the live feed :)
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By Leafcutter
#1813
antsy wrote:Loving the live feed :)


Yeah, nice treat of a solider earlier on and new chewing of the leaves :D
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By Leafcutter
#1868
Minim Update 26

I just frozen some fresh, green bramble and rose leaves which will be ready in about half an hour to give to the ants. Stay tuned on the Atta live cam to see leaf chewing in action!
User avatar
By Leafcutter
#2007
Minim Update 27

If you check out the Live Atta Feed you should be able to see some pupae being carried around. Maybe even a solider pupa :)
User avatar
By Leafcutter
#2042
Soldier Update 9

I'll split this up a bit to make it easier to read ;).

Fungus

Currently the fungus is a pretty light colour. I have been limiting the amount of leaves that I have been giving to the ants because I don't want them starting a new fungus garden until they are in the new setup. I had used some Duck Tape to seal off the entrance to the foraging tank and I thought if the ants tried to cut it up, they would just stick to it. But no no no, they are cunning and cut through it anyway and with that, carry pieces of Duck Tape to the fungus, thinking it is a leaf lol. The Queen hasn't made much of an appearance but is comfortably lodged in a part of the fungus where eggs continue to be laid.

Population

This is something I haven't discussed in a while ;). There has been a huge increase in the amount of brood and thanks to her Majesty the Queen, this is just the start! The colony has had a boost of about a few hundred workers, including soldiers, and I'm getting a bit concerned about putting leaves in for them. Every time I need to provide leaves for them, I have to make a distraction for the ants. The few types I have used so far are: apple slices in a sphere, tapping on the foraging area so the ants come running in to attack (so I can fill the sphere with leaves quickly), waiting until there are only a few ants in the sphere and providing sweet foods :lol:.

Atta WIP Setup

I have now managed to get the majority of the discs cut for the bases of the cylinders but I still have some lids to make. This is going to have to be a job to do in late June. Not much else has been going on in terms of building the setup but I hope to have it sorted out by the end of July ;).

Media

I have a new YouTube Channel called 'Antsect' which is also the name of my website. Once the website is up and running, I will be publishing lots of ant keeping articles. I will probably do a document on 'The Joys of Keeping Leafcutting Ants' :D. Enjoy the pictures and video guys:

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Overall, the colony is doing well and the population is on a definite increase. I am going to begin a Leaf Challenge for the ants and see their reactions to day after day of leaves galore :). If they do manage to start another fungus garden, I will be hoping that it can get to a good size before being put in the new setup. I'll compromise on the fungus and let the ants build another one in the current setup if they do.
User avatar
By Occultus
#2044
I shall look forward to your new YouTube channel, Its safe to say that you have mastered the niche care requirements that this Atta species requires. Outstanding colony, setup and Live cam are very clear. If I were to ever get a hand on this species your journals would be a bible for me to follow.
User avatar
By Leafcutter
#2046
Antagoniser wrote:I shall look forward to your new YouTube channel, Its safe to say that you have mastered the niche care requirements that this Atta species requires. Outstanding colony, setup and Live cam are very clear. If I were to ever get a hand on this species your journals would be a bible for me to follow.


Thanks Che :). My current goal with this colony if for it to produce alates and from what I have researched, you can artificially create an environment for a mating flight. It would be really interesting to have fertile Queens to found new colonies (could give them away to you guys :D). All I need really is a large tank which is super-humid and another Atta keeper so that we can exchange alate pupae. Although it could be done with just a single colony. Time will tell...
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By Leafcutter
#2048
jonthefish wrote:Take my money Leafcuter, take my money!!


I wouldn't want any money for them :), if it ever happens, forum members can have colony for free ;).
User avatar
By Leafcutter
#2049
Minim Update 28

Leaf Cutting Challenge - Day 1

Today will mark the beginning of the Leaf Cutting Challenge for my Atta cephalotes colony. Basically the idea of this challenge is to see how the ants react to lots of leaves on the rotation. Whether they will build another fungus garden or ignore the leaves completely. So this is Day 1 and first up is Privet! :D. The rotation will go as the following:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Privet leaves Ivy leaves Rose leaves Bramble leaves Rhododendron leaves Privet leaves Rose leaves

I will post the observations I make whenever possible :).
User avatar
By Leafcutter
#2052
Leaf Cutting Challenge - Day 2

Oddly, not much privet has been cut :o. I will give them until the afternoon and then give them the Sunday lot (rose leaves). The fungus remains a dark colour at the top and the Queen has burrowed deeper into the centre of the fungus. I'm surprised that privet has been rejected as they haven't had it in a while?
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By Leafcutter
#2073
Soldier Update 10

I was conducting daily checks and to my surprise in the foraging sphere I found a load of fungus growing on the bramble leaves :D. My reaction "Finally a new fungus garden!!". I'm so happy that they have decided to expand (I might have to do more leaf cutting challenges). Annoyingly the fungus is growing in the foraging area so I will have to put leaves in a different sphere. I will upload some pictures this afternoon. So overjoyed right now :). The colony is finally growing faster.
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By Leafcutter
#2078
Soldier Update 10 cont...

The fungus is growing slowly but surely :). Got a mass of pictures and a few videos for you guys as this is an exciting moment for myself too. I have relocated the foraging area now so it is the sphere behind the original fungus garden. The ants have just received some rose leaves and will be fast at work.

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Now for the videos:





User avatar
By Leafcutter
#2158
Soldier Update 11

I didn't think I would be doing another Soldier Update for some time now but when there's news, there's news :D. The main fungus garden is doing okay but I'm slightly concerned that the ants are not bringing as many leaves to it as the other fungus garden. It might be that the fungus is covering the entrance to the sphere so large leaves cannot fit. I'm not overly-worrying about it at the moment though ;). The Queen is still in her own little fungus "pore" where she hides from light but I do occasionally see her head sticking out if I haven't turned the light on for a while (that rarely occurs) lol.

The second fungus garden is looking good and it has been given a lot of attention recently. Bramble seems to be a winner with these guys and ivy leaves are not cut very much. As you guys know, I now use the sphere opposite the main fungus garden as a foraging area close to the fungus. Yesterday I gave the ants a load of bramble and they went about it as their daily routine, but to my surprise... This morning I checked up on the ants and just spotted that the foraging sphere has now become another fungus garden :shock: lol. For ages these guys lived off just one fungus garden and then they decide "Ooh I'm a bit bored of sitting in the fungus sphere all day, why don't we start another fungus garden" :D.

So now I have Main Fungus Garden 1, Small Fungus Garden 2 and now Micro Fungus Garden 3!! Things are looking good, but God help me when I come around to moving these guys into the cylinder setup (when it gets made ;) ).

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User avatar
By jonthefish
#2159
Great they haven't got all their eggs in one basket, with regards to having 3 separate fungus farms.

Tell me Leafcutter, in the wild, this species keeps its fungus farm under ground? If you could, would it be of interest to see if the fungus develops any differently to darkness compare to light. Mind you I bet the ants would spend more time and attention to the dark container. Worth a thought.
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By Leafcutter
#2160
jonthefish wrote:Great they haven't got all their eggs in one basket, with regards to having 3 separate fungus farms.

Tell me Leafcutter, in the wild, this species keeps its fungus farm under ground? If you could, would it be of interest to see if the fungus develops any differently to darkness compare to light. Mind you I bet the ants would spend more time and attention to the dark container. Worth a thought.


You are correct, the fungus gardens are built underground. Yeah, I could get that arranged quite easily actually. I can get some red acetate and cut it to size to wrap around the cylinders (couldn't do it easily for the spheres though). I like the idea of that Jon :). It would keep the cylinders dark and I could compare results of the activity and growth of the fungus.
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By Leafcutter
#2279
Minim Update 29

I have been trying some other types of substrate with the ants and observing how they react to it and how the fungus reacts. I gave them some almond flakes a couple of days ago and the ants took to them very nicely :). Then the following day I decided good old privet should be given but when I went to put it into the foraging area, to my surprise, there were hundreds of ants swarming around the top of the foraging area tank. I decided then to wait until things had calmed down and they did so I had chance to throw in some privet.

The ants have recently tried to chew through the stainless steel fine mesh in the foraging area and waste chamber. They won't succeed as it is very tough, but it's a bit concerning that they are trying to chew through metal! All three fungus gardens are looking in good shape at the moment and the colouration has changed to a lighter cream colour rather than a dark grey colour as the almond fragments make the fungus look a cream colour. All is well in the Atta cephalotes Kingdom :D.
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By Leafcutter
#2422
Minim Update 30

The Vanishing Act!

Yesterday I was looking around the setup as usual and noticed, poof!, no fungus garden! I searched high, and low ;) but the fungus garden opposite the main one had disappeared? I don't know what the ants are up to but it's slightly concerning that there was no trace of the fungus whatsoever? I'll try and get some pictures this afternoon.
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By Leafcutter
#2430
Episode XXXI

The BIG Feed

The ants have been given a load of Privet and I mean a load! I'll see what they get up to ;). I'll try and upload pictures later.
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By Leafcutter
#2524
Episode XXXII (continued Star Wars style posts :D)

Just a quick Minim Update of the ants and they are doing very well. The Queen is still buried deep in the centre of the main fungus garden so I cannot comment on her condition but what I can say is that she is very actively laying eggs ;). The huge brood piles in the pores of the fungus is very reassuring that the colony is thriving.

A short time-lapse video for you guys today, so enjoy:

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By Leafcutter
#2683
Episode XXXIII

Quick update. I have just given the ants a bunch of rose leaves with some flowers too. They have quickly found the rose and started work on it immediately. The 2nd fungus garden is growing slowly and I think soon it will topple over as the ants are building it up the right side of the sphere without any bottom support :D.
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By Leafcutter
#2701
Antman wrote:Is that privet in the video leafcutter?


Yeah, I've got some nice neighbours that have some overgrowth of privet on the top of their hedge and haven't cut it in ages, so I just cut from that whenever I need ;).
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By Leafcutter
#2843
Episode XXXIIV

Lots of active workers have been exploring the foraging area a bit more and taking to rose leaves quite well. I managed to get a nice clip of them foraging but since the glass was a bit dirty from the inside, the video quality isn't as good as normal. HRH is still buried inside the fungus but I shine a bright torch at the side of the fungus and a small brown Queen twitching her legs can be seen :) So she's definately alive and laying eggs like mad! Lots of pupae and larvae around the fungus and FG2 (Fungus Garden 2) is growing in size nicely. It may topple over soon as they continue to build extra height but not width. Also got a couple of time lapses :D.

The fungus is still a good dark grey colour and very healthy, there is however a slight issue with the "Ant Highway" tubing. When these guys cut all that privet, most of it was not even taken so was dumped outside the sphere, so now I have a tube full of privet that need taking out, but how to do it...?? .

I have managed to cut out some holes in the cylinders for the tubing but only have completed 3 at the moment so progress is very slow; even more so because of the Weaver Ant Project too :D.

Enjoy :)



User avatar
By Leafcutter
#3057
Episode XXXVI

Quick update to say both fungus gardens are looking good at the moment and they are taking in lots of leaves as usual. I will be away until Sunday so I hope the temperatures don't get too high inside. The heat cable has hardly been on last week and isn't on at all at the moment but the temperature is peaking in the incubator at 25.8 Degrees Celsius so I've got a fan running to lower the temps, so hopefully all will be well. The sliding doors of the incubator are open too so as long as the temperature remains below 28 degrees, it will be fine :).
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By Leafcutter
#3503
Episode XXXVII

It's become increasingly difficult to put leaves in for the ants recently due to a population boom and the fact that a bunch of ants remain in the corners of the glass tank. This means every time I open the tank, a few workers escape or get squashed which is not ideal at all. I've managed to use some distraction techniques such as providing sweet melon slices, apple slices and plum slices for the ants to consume. This means that the majority of the ants are too busy eating the sweet treat rather than crawling around the corners of the tank.

I'm in great need of a moat right about now so I'm going to design one ASAP. The fungus gardens are remaining at a solid two spheres and load of pupae and larvae can be seen in the second garden :). The Queen makes an appearance now and again just to reassure me that she's living :D.

Overall the colony is doing great and yesterday, to mix things up a bit, I gave the ants two large cream rose buds with plenty of petal foliage to cut. If you guys saw on the live cam, a few ants carried a cut petal which could be seen from the cam :D.

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