I came home on Thursday afternoon giddy. The sun was shining, I was off on Friday, and I was just generally happy. I grabbed a refreshing drink and went out to the back garden. The pond was teeming with all different shapes and sizes of tadpoles. I discovered mining bee nests. And then I saw that the garden colony of Myrmica ruginodis was awake!
Now, at the end of July last year, I caught my first queen from this colony, and had counted myself incredibly lucky. However, in the course of maybe 10 minutes, I snatched 4 queens just wandering about near the nest. I assume these are not newly-mated, but are already founded queens of the colony. I started to worry if I was maybe endangering the colony (it maybe only had 4 queens), which is still a worry, but I think this colony had more than 3 nests, so must have had more than 4 queens. Also, surely all the queens of a colony wouldn't be out for a walk at once? Anyway, I sat for a few more minutes, catching workers with a spoon and adding them to the queens. I'd like to point out that I didn't scoop them up with a spoon, I allowed them to climb on. I'd gone and got my spare AntKit arena and XS Acrylic Nest (which turns out was one of the new designs!) and gave it a PTFE rim. I just gently dropped them into the arena.
By the next afternoon (Friday), they were still very thirsty.
I also noticed that the string I'd put in to help them get from the outworld to the tubing (like in my Messor barbarus journal) had been removed and was being shredded to pieces. So it seems they are as aggressive as they say.
I'd placed a little tiny plastic container with a tiny rim of PTFE in the ground near the nest overnight. In the morning, there were about 10 more workers, a queen and a tiny larva. It didn't rain, but the PTFE seemed to have run a bit, and two of the workers were dying. I put them out of their misery. One had PTFE on her head, but I hope she'll be okay. At least the others won't be able to walk all over her. I won't be using a PTFE trap again.
They'd moved into the nest, so I was able to count 5 larvae (not including the new tiny one which hadn't arrived yet).
I gave them a mealworm, but when I returned about an hour later it was green, so I panicked and removed it. However, that evening, there were still loads of ants in the outworld, so I decided to try a bit of protein jelly. Well, what can I say? They were certainly hungry. They seemed to be drinking the juice of the jelly rather than taking chunks of protein back for the larvae, but I suppose there only were 6 larvae.
The sixth larva had reached the nest.
You can see that they were still mainly in the outworld, even all 5 of the queens.
On Saturday, they drank water. Basically all day.