My ph. d. finally arrived today
between 50 and 100 workers, 3 small soldiers and 2 more slightly larger (probably a third of the size of the queen) a nice clump of eggs and larva
and, of course a very large and impressive looking queen
I am going to keep them in a fish tank 48"x12"x18" I have a flurescent tube in there to help with the heat and to make the plants grow as well as a ceramic heater fixed to a thermostat for a constant 27 degrees during the day and prob 24 at night.
the tank is filled between 2 and 4 inches deep with a loamy topsoil mix which i found at homebase and I have also carved a y-tong block that i hope the ants will use as their nest.
On removing the stopper from the test tube and laying it in the tank (with the opening facing the hole in the y-tong for some sort of pursuasive effort) the workers were immediately very lively, scuttling straight out the tube to scout around. the queen and the soldiers, it seemed, stayed behind to protect the brood.
Many workers entered the y-tong but unfortunately i think my design is slightly flawed. I now believe i have made the water resevior too big as ther are actually tiny puddles forming in some of the chambers.
After a few minutes the workers vacated the y-tong completely and i was saddened and slightly disheartend to realise 4 dead workers were visable in one of the dampest chambers
I`ve now drained the resevior to give the y-tong time to dry out and will persevere to fiddle with it until it is ant habitable.
Meanwhile the workers seemed to have taken a liking to a spot underneath a small ceramic plant tray and i noticed 1 or 2 of the workers had now picked up eggs and were carrying them towards it. All of a sudden the message seemed to infiltrated the whole colony at once, the activity level rose throughout the troop and they moved as one taking the brood in a long constant line to the new site.
The workers moved most of the brood only when there were very few pieces left did the soldiers pick up a piece to move (there was one soldier who looked to be patrolling just outside the test tube still staying very close) and the queen waited until the very end before she vacated the tube escorted by 2 remaining soldiers and a number of workers who rode on her back
Once i was sure all the brood had been moved i shook the couple of remaining workers from the test tube and removed it ( the ants had also been moving the few workers who had died in transit from the tube) I then dropped i live meal worm just infront of the nest entrance.....
I must admit i felt slightly sadistic and at the same time sorry for the worm when i saw it writhe in pain as the colony attacked it there were between 5 and 10 ants simaltaniusly trying to get a grip on the slippery worm and every time one got a pinch the worm twisted its body violently, it was clearly in very much pain
After a short while one of the soldiers surfaced to join in and she seemed to find it much easier to get a decen purchase on the worm with her larger mandibles. The contest turned into a tug of war with the soldier quite successfuly trying to drag the much larger worm towards the nest hole and every few seconds the worms body spasming and lifting the soldier from the ground and swinging her around although she never looked like releasing her grip....
strangely, once the worm had stopped moving the ants left it where it was. its tail had burrowed slightly beneath the loam making it harder to move although i believe the ants may have percieved the worm more as a threat to the nest and brood than as food at this delicate time of moving nest. who konows maybe it will be gone tomorrow...
Hope you enjoyed my first installment I will try to keep the diary updated as much as possible. unfortunatly if have no decent camera as yet for pictures. maybe later i will invest.
finally, I am a beginner at keeping ants so any informaation, tips, pointers and even critisism will be very much appreiciated.