Keep your ant journals in here
#22643
Update!


Lots of ants hatched during the last days. I'm pretty sure it isn't over yet and there's still pupae left but I cannot see them (they're inside the straw).
It's hard to estimate how many there are now but I think 30-35 workers is a pretty accurate guess (with a rough estimate of 5-15 remaining pupae).
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There's also new big media worker but it's more of an overgrown minor as it lacks the flatter broader head of the other media. No major larvae in sight yet but then there's two big egg batches and a few small larvae. Interestingly they don't seem to pile up the larvae anymore but leave them just scattered across the floor. I guess there's no more need to pile as at some point a worker is bound to stumble over each of them.
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They just ate a bit from a roach abdomen piece (still never more than two workers outside) and tomorrow I'm getting dead drone larvae from a friend who is keeping bees.

Finally my new 20x10 baby outworld arrived. It's getting a place more in the sun than the regular main arena so that at some point they can use it to store their pupae there (or use it as a waste dump, whatever they like best). Not sure how to decorate it as it's tiny size severely limits decoration options.
Probably I'll put one of these shrimp tubes inside and a few snail shells.
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#22709
S, I was on a 6 day trip to Vienna and got home late yesterday from a THIRTEEN HOUR train odyssey because NOTHING worked out as planed (except for the Austrian trains because the ÖBB is actually competent, they even have actually working lifts in their trains).


That said, within the 6 days I was gone the ants did... not exactly much.
They didn't touch the big spider I gave them, they didn't touch the smaller spider and they barely (if at all) touched the dried red mosquito larvae. I assume it was a bit too cold for them despite their formicarium being at 25°C when I finally arrived home this evening - this or they're just very picky eaters and won't touch anything that's not super tasty unless they really need to.
They do however have a ton of brood again, especially pupae (at least three of them look dark and should hatch very soon).

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They just got a bee pupae though (which essentially turned out liquid when I tried to cut it into pieces) and they seem to be very interested into it - a worker is constantly working on it, first it slurped up the liquids and now it's munching on the head.


For the small outworld - I haven't decided how to decorate it yet (miniature houses seem like a fun idea though), in fact it's not even attached to the setup as I probably need a tri-connector and a plug with mesh because otherwise the air flow in the large arena will really suffer. Gonna look into that in the coming days.
#22754
NEW LAZY TUBE RECORD! Image
Three ants outside at the same time on Tuesday!


A friend of mine who's keeping bees had to cut a part of their brood off, that means tasty bee pupae (and some larvae) for Lazy Tube.
Here's a worker inspecting one (the other stuff on the dish is the remnants of the first one they got).
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They also managed to drag two of these medium-sized spiders into the tube over night which means they must have cleared out the entire entrance area and then piled it back up again. I also tried to feed them small crickets but they're not touching them. The grasshopper parts seem to spark some interest though.
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There's a ton of brood again and I feel they've developed way more in the week since I'm back than in the week I was away, most likely due to the difference in temperature (currently the arena is mostly between 28 and 30°C which they seem to like).
The front end of the tube is starting to look a bit messy, I wonder when these little buggers will start to take out all their trash or if they're just gonna be lazy and move out when they've piled up enough garbage. It's amazing though how clean the rear part of the tube still is after them living in it for more than half a year.
Also note how most of the new workers have a more reddish thorax compared to the first workers which were almost entirely black.
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#22878
So yesterday I made my regular morning outworld check, as it is tradition, and saw this:
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Lazy Tube has it's first dead worker. She worked hard, discovered the entire outworld, was always the first on foraging duty and finally gave her life for the colony.

It has been a sad day for Lazy Tube and therefore the world.



That allowed for some usually impossible close-ups though.
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Interestingly the nanitics have the same reddish middle segment coloration as the larger workers, just not as visible.




The colony's growth over the last days has been amazing, probably due to the warm weather.
As you can see they move the pupae into the straw at the front end of the tube (that's why they disappear from the later pictures).
I have no idea how many cocoons they have but that straw must be pretty full - and there's still more eggs.

June 30th
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July 1st
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July 2nd
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July 3rd
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July 4th
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July 5th
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#22954
July 9th

Well, I've been away for a few days and not much has happened. They still have larvae and eggs well as some pupae in the rear part of the tube and I'm pretty sure that the straw is now completely full from behind the dead spider they're using as a road block to where it reaches into the tube. In the last two pictures you can see the back end of the straw where one worker has grabbed a cocoon.
Currently they're even too lazy to come out and take some food. There's gonna be a lot of ants soon though, I guess the great eclosing will start in about a week, maybe two.

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#22977
Moar ants!

I wouldn't exactly say that they are exploding but it seems the colony slowly starts rolling.
There's at least 40+ ants, maybe they've already breached 50 workers (can't say how many ants and pupae are in the straw).
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Today I went out and caught some grasshoppers - it was a bit hard to catch them first but once you realize you can just stomp them and then catch them it's actually pretty easy (and no stomping usually doesn't kill them as grass is an incredibly good buffer, out of 6 grasshoppers I caught that way only one died immediately, the rest was just disorientated so I could pick them up although some got away still).
Other than the ones from the pet shop they really seem to like these. The wild grasshoppers are much more juicy that the dried-out versions you can buy at the pet store. Bee pupae are still very popular though and small spiders that can be dragged into the nest easily are still preferred above everything else.
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Here are a few more close-ups of these pretty girls. Note the large cocoon on the last picture. Also on that same picture you can actually see a worker feeding a larva, and just below that a slightly pale yellowish looking worker that may just have eclosed.
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#23084
scarletAsh wrote:great pictures as always Serafine. Really enjoying this journal. You make it very tempted to get Camponotus barbaricus for myself.

Well, they are definitely nice looking and easy to keep. You need a lot of patience though, mine are still barely active outside their tube. But then their colonies can become reaaaaally huge over the years.


They must have been really hungry yesterday though, there were three ants foraging.
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I upgraded their food supply but it's gonna take a while until I can collect the harvest. The reason for this is that most feeder insects you can buy at pet stores are in such a terrible condition (undernourished, dehydrated) that most of the time the ants will outright refuse to eat them.

Here's the Locarium featuring some locust nymphs. They are really nice - they don't chirp, don't try to eat each other and they like potatoes. The only issue with them is that they crap all over their setup. It's gonna require some serious cleaning before I can use it again after they got out.
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And here's the Zophobarium containing superworms. I'm gonna buy a toolbox because you have to separate them and put them into a dry environment for them to turn into beetles otherwise they will just stay larvae forever, but for now it's fine.
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For Lazy Tube, it looks like there are now so many cocoons that they have to pile them up in the back chamber. And that pupae hull garbage depot starts to become really large. They aren't showing any signs of preparations for a move to a new place yet but I guess when they decide to it will be quite a swift and quick night operation.
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#23132
Well, I just removed the cover of the tube and my first though was "HOLY CRAP! That's a lot of ants!"
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And there's some seriously big-headed girls among them. Yes, they have majors (smaller ones though, they can still grow a good bit bigger). I counted three ants with large heads, not sure if they're all majors though (one might be a media, couldn't get a good picture of her).
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I tried to feed them some various stuff over the last week like apple bits and a small potato slice - they're not interested in anything that's not bee pupa. Even spiders are hit and miss, half of them they just ignore.



The Superworms are doing fine. They sleep during the morning and afternoon hours and come out at evening (it doesn't need to be dark, they come out when light is on as well) which makes maintenance extremely easy.
Contrary to what people told me they're not eating each other, they like apples though - I've actually read this up and they mostly cannibalize on each other when they lack water, as long as you provide them with enough juicy vegetables, fruit or water gel it's unlikely to happen.
I can't recommend the water gel though as these guys dig a lot and will make any dish sink into the oat flakes after a while where the water gel actually makes the oat flakes wet and mushy (= not good). Apple slices work much better as they can't fall off the dish.
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I separated nine of them into a small tool box (one superworm per chamber) and three are definitely preparing to pupate, not sure about the others (can't see them when they're lying under the oat flakes).
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The Locusts on the other hand... they're dead. I froze what was left of them. If you ever think of breeding locusts as ant food or even just gutloading them, forget it.
They smell (not strong but pretty unpleasant nonetheless), half of them dies anyway - either they just die or they fail to get rid of their old skin and die in the process, which means you have to get the dead bodies out without having the others escape - and they crap all over their entire setup (even on the ceiling). I had to completely clean out the glass container and wash out all the substrate as well.

The good news is that means it's ready for this nice lady and her (hopefully) many children when they need it.
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#23149
Superworms pupate better if you leave them with no food at all (they'll eat the oats). Superworms pupate due to stress. I always leave them with nothing to eat or drink.

I did a test ages ago and they seem to pupate faster when constantly in darkness too but I only tested on about 30 so nothing concrete
#23162
Aug 4th

Those Superworms are idiots. They managed to lift apple slices off the dish by crawling under them, as a result the oatmeal flakes became wet, mushy and started to smell.
Now I relocated all of them to a new box and give it a try with a more advanced "hydration system". Maybe this works better.
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Huge foraging party of three ants outside today:
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A few days ago all the ants started congregating at the front end of the tube. This might be caused by the insane humidity (it's been warm and raining for the last days, humidity is above 70%) but it somehow looks like they're up to something. There seems to be a drag towards the front end of the tube, so maybe they are preparing for a move. They also have entrance security now, one of the majors usually does it.
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#23163
Aug 5th

Today the colony has burst into acitivity. There was a steady stream of workers consuming both sugar water and food with 4-5 ants out at almost all times. Additionally, over the course of the day they removed everything that was in the tube entrance area - spider roadblocks, pebbles, they even tore down the sand wall.
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Inside the tube they have moved up even closer to the exit, the eggs are now in the cotton ball. I think they are ready to leave.
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The smaller glass outworld was cleansed from all the dirt the Locusts had left and then given to this lady (she already has a bunch of pupae but they're all naked). If I'm gonna add another arena to the Lazy Tube setup I'll order a larger one becaue this thing is ridiculously tiny.
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#23164
Well... over the last few days the colony's outworld activity has exploded. They have eaten one of the bee pupae down to the exoskeleton but don't seem to be interested in the superworms (maybe they'll like the adult beetles more). This is what it usually looks like as soon as it gets shady or dark.
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However... they're not moving. At least not for now. It was probably the insane humidity that drove them towards the front end - since it got less humid (down to 50%) at least a part of them moved a bit back deeper into the tube again.
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The queen is still up front, always accompanied by at least one major. Larvae and pupae are pretty much mingled together with some of the eggs, the larger egg piles though are kept separated more at the back end.
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The Superworm farm is doing great, with the new "cup hydration system" and cucumbers instead of apples stuff doesn't get wet and smelly anymore. In the pupating station the first superworms are slowly developing into darkling beetles (they are surprisingly big).
Sorry for the blurry pictures, it wasn't visible on the cam screen and I didn't want to disturb them again.
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The Lasius queen is doing great as well, she has a bunch of larger brood (I think they're naked pupae but not sure) and a few smaller coming. She didn't seem to have laid any more eggs after the initial pile and is probably waiting for her first browncoats to arrive.
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#23185
Aug 9th

"The young must move out of their cramped tube and see the world! Travel to new places! Make new experiences and get some education!"
That might have been what my ants must have thought. Or the humidity levels were just bad. But the first one makes a much better story.


Anyway, over the last days I've recognized a bunch of ants outside the tube doing nothing. They just stood there, waiting for... something.
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Then, this morning they started doing this.
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They established a forward base in front of the entrance where they piled up most of the brood (larvae and pupae). The eggs and the queens are still inside the tube.
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Since they started to run low on food (they became quite hungry lately) I gave them two new bee pupae and a dead spider. The bee pupae didn't cause any reaction but the spider was encountered by two workers - one ran away instantly and caused a slight panic outbreak at the forward base (which lead to half of the brood pile getting transported back into the tube), the other one ferociously attacked the dead spider, dragged it away from the brood pile and "defeated" it with help from another minor and one of the medias.
Here you can see them tearing apart their prey.
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This last picture is a close-up taken about ten minutes after I dropped the new food into the outworld so it's only about half of the actually brood. Aren't they beautiful?
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I just checked, they already brought the rest back out again.
And no, they're not moving. At least not yet. It's probably just the high humidity that caused this.
However I've turned on the heating cable attached to the SimAnts nest and with a bit of luck they may find it and actually move in.
#23186
Aug 10th

Disaster struck!
Lazy Tube... is no more.
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It must have happened yesterday at about 9am, although it probably started a few days ago and was most likely the reason they decided to dump the brood into the outworld. My guess is that when the water chamber reached a certain point the cotton collapsed and the water leaked into the tube. Unfortunately JUST when I noticed it I had to go because we were about the start a 2 day trip to Neuschwanstein.
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However I still managed to catch one of the workers carrying brood to safety.
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Just a few tiny steps more...
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There we go! Brood saved!
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When I came back, they had already become familiar with their new home.
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The water tube was quite busy.
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Here's queen Barbarianna sitting on her pile of brood like Smaug the Golden on his treasure.
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One issue I've noticed with the SimAnts Nest is that you have to be veeery careful when lifting the lid to not cause immediate panic (I guess that's exactly the same with similar nest designs like the AC hybrids). More often than not the ants are already quite agitated when I'm trying to watch them. I guess they'll get used to it.

Now that I've turned on the heating cable all of them moved to the upper part of the nest - even the water tube is empty. I'm curious if this constant heat spot will speed up their development and how they are going to arrange the brood inside the nest.
Well, I guess we'll soon find out in another episode of Lazy... Tube? Nest? Cave? Hm... I guess I'll just stick with the tube, even though they're not really in a tube anymore (also, technically they still have one attached to their new home, so there's that)...
#23282
Holy moly, this is slightly otudated. Let's fix this quickly...


14th of August

This just a small foraging party but then it was quite early (few minutes before midnight) usually they come out in larger number after midnight. They're still eating a lot, about 2 bee pupae per 1-2 days. This time I'm trying a wild grasshopper but they're probably not interested.
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Looks like they really like the nest. They live mostly in the top and mid chambers with the pupae closer to the heating cable and the small larvae more in the mid chambers, however there's always a few ants moving between the water tube in the bottom slot. In the top right chamber you can see the size difference between minor and major pupae.
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They frequently bring the smaller larvae into the water tube. I can't see any eggs but there might be some hidden at the cotton or carried by a worker in the vinyl tubing part of the water tube.
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It doesn't really look like much has happened in the last few days however ALL the eggs have hatched into larvae, maybe because now there's more nesting space available.
I expect them to become more hungry now that they have that many brood. They're already a lot more active than before, although only during night times.
#23283
17th of August

The Lazy Horde now eats through 2 bee pupae in a night and even shows some interest in superworms. Honey however is not their thing.
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The larvae are growing well, there's a lot of big ones now and more pupae.
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There are two garbage piles, one right next to the pupa pile and another one next to the bottom right corner of the nest (which means I'm not gonna water that corner anymore). Let's hope they toss out the garbage at some point and don't make a mess like they did in the test tube.
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The water tube is busy as well with a lot of new eggs and small larvae. Their development speed picked up significantly since they are heated around the clock.
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#23284
21 of August

I have a feeling that there's more of them than last time I looked into the nest...
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Seems like the central chamber has become the main brood hub. Look at all those batches of minilarvae held by the workers.
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Most of the pupae is still in the top chambers but there's also quite a few of them scattered around in the upper half of the nest. They're not really sorting them that much anymore.
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In the water tube there's brood of all stages. I think they bring the brood into the water tube to feed them water and then carry them back to the warmer parts of the nest.
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Close-up of a major.
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#23285
25th of August

So today, this is a feature of all my ant colonies. You can expect additional journals if these colonies survive the winter (maybe even earlier).

First of all, Lazy Tube.
They are about 200 workers now and growing quickly.
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Central chamber (main brood hub, most of the young larvae are stored here).
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Left wing with the more-or-less-oval office (seems to be the queen's favorite spot).
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Right wing (main pupating chamber is located here).
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A major getting fed. Don't wanna get bitten by that one.
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The water tube is really busy. If they keep piling that many ants in there I'll consider adding a second one to the vacant port.
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While this isn't the most ants I've ever seen outside it is definitely the most I managed to catch on a picture.
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What I find interesting when looking at the way they approach the foraging area is that they do not seem to have a clear pathway to the food (which always is in the same place).
There are two main paths that are used most frequently (one along the edges of the glass tank and another one through an open area in front of the nest) but a lot of ants sort of stray from this path and use diagonal shortcuts and the way they move around obstacles is also pretty random. I wonder if they just navigate by memory as most of them don't really seem to follow a pheromone trail (not even in the dark).
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Looks like some workers wanted to build a roadblock at the entrance but then were too lazy or couldn't be bothered anymore so there's only a few pebbles in front of the tunnel now.
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This is the Lasius niger queen you've already seen a few times. She finally got nanitics (something around half a dozen, they're so tiny) and they just received their first meal, a fruit fly. The workers don't like light and get very freaked out, luckily the queen doesn't really bother and stays calm.
I have never actually seen them outside but they carried sand into the tube and stuck it to a pupa (left of the fruit fly). I assume they found the feeder with the Sunburst as well, so I filled it up.
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Hadn't really checked on my Solenopsis fugax queen and her 2 workers for quite some time. The queen took forever to get her first workers (think she laid her first eggs in June), when took a quick look a few days ago I thought they had eaten their brood because there was none to be found. They also got a fruit fly today.
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Turned out they had not eaten their brood. Instead they raised a couple more workers which then dug into the cotton to get a more moist space for the brood. They're supposed to grow pretty fast but this queens seems to have a some issues getting her colony rolling, although I think she's got it now.
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#23286
How to make a lazy tube go really active?
Just offer them some food they like.


August 27th
They got some spiders and were quite excited. They just love spiders.
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Here you can see two sporty ants, each one carrying a small spider towards the nest.
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I also found the first fruit they ever considered worthy of at least a few bites - a tiny strawberry that grew on the lawn (it's actually more of a meadow) around the house.
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August 30th
Today, they got two goldflies, a few spiders and some unknown bettle. Wow, I have never seen them so active and excited.

Here's an extra sporty ant doing some parcour exercises (because why go around the rock when you can go over it?).
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First fly in the nest (well, it took them about half an hour to get there, so it wasn't exactly fast).
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I'm not really sure what they're doing here. Teamwork isn't exactly their strenght, usually it's just one ant that grabs the prey and drags it into the nest - that is, if it doesn't loose interest half way down and drops it until another ant come around to pick up where the last one left. It's like the ant version of a relay race.
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A look into the nest tells us that they have a ton of pupae and a good amount of big larvae but less smaller larvae. I wonder when they are going into hibernation - in Spain it's still summer and around 30°C (20°C at night) but the brood takes around 4-6 weeks to go from egg to worker, so I expect them to stop rearing new brood in about 2-4 weeks.
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There's a lot of eggs or tiny larvae in the water tube but I'm no sure how much of them will still turn into workers this year.
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Here you can see some workers munching on a fly. These flies were very popular, in fact so popular that I now ordered a cup of goldflies (they come as pupae but quickly hatch so I'll have adult flies). I really enjoyed seeing them so active and excited, hopefully they will like the ones I ordered, too.
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