Growing a Pheidole pallidula colony (the very beginning!)

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Growing a Pheidole pallidula colony (the very beginning!)

Beitragvon mbservices » 2. Okt 2017 16:33

Hi,

I wouldn't say I am entirely new at antkeeping, because I used to own two ant colonies (L.niger and M. rubra) when I was a little 17year old.

Now, so many years later, and after not being concerned with ants too much anymore, I have decided to try again. This time with another species though. Like many, I was attracted by the Pheidole species, because of the soldiers cast.

Now, I bought my colony of just under 20 individuals, because I wanted to see them grow. I didn't want there to be soldiers already, because I really want to see the evolution from a very little meaningless heap of ants growing into a great invincible army of ...... Well, you know what a I mean :)

I do have some issues, and I wanted to get clarification on something. I noticed there are some really savvy guys around here with some interesting knowledge and ideas. So, I am kinda hoping I will get my answers here.

As mentioned before, I got a really very small colony of just one queen and around 17 workers, if I counted correctly.
Already one thing I can say, and which is the reason why I absolutely wanted to look for answers : I am losing workers on a daily basis. Ok, I wouldn't say there is a death every single day, but I wouldn't lie if I said every two three days I see another dead ant body.
I am pretty sure these are all natural deaths, so I am not too much worried about that (unless someone would disagree?). The thing is, since there are so many ants dying of old age, but it doesn't look like there are many ants adding to the colony (there is brood, but that seems to be less and less too), I am getting afraid that I might be left with only the queen and some brood in a few days/weeks.
Should I be concerned? Or is it normal to loose some first, and only after there will be a boost to the colony? I don't know. Anyone got some experience in that field?

As I am pretty concerned about the stagnating growth of the colony, I am trying to add as much food as I can.
They will not attack large prey, and can't even seem to handle a dead spider, so all I can give them is dead little fruit flies (one time I gave a live one, and the fly simply ran around everywhere, even stayed IN the ant's nest for a while. They only took it once I killed it myself!
But, when I give them the flies, they seem to get fed up with them pretty fast as well. Often they don't touch them, or they take them into the nest only to throw them out very quickly right after.

They also don't seem to care much for honey (I gave them the honey from the Antstore's food kit), and even less for suger water.
I also tried some other products from the antstore's foodkit. Tried dry as well as wet. And still no interest at all.

So, at the moment it looks like they are only accepting fruit flies, and even in limited quantity. And nothing else.

About the nest itself : I left them in the test tube from Antstore, which I left open in a 20x10 outworld. And I use a heatmat that heats up the surface to between 25°c and 30°c.
After a wile I noticed the cotton being extremely dirty, and even saw that the ants went all sit on the "floor" of the test tube, so I moved them to another - clean - test tube. I gave them the exact same environmental conditions.

So, that is it. I hope someone will be kind enough to tell me some hints maybe. Some feeding hints, or just a few positive words to explain how things will turn around. I don't know. I hope to get some intel from someone who started with a small colony like me, and grew it into an amazing nest.

Any ideas, tips, and even questions are welcome! :)
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Re: Growing a Pheidole Pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon HarryAnt » 2. Okt 2017 17:46

hi,

how long you have this colony now ?


What I can tell you is that the first ~ 2-3 weeks after the transport and acclimatization usually some of the small pheidole die.
It seems this kind of ants are very sensitive for transport and so on.

But after this time the colony should be stable and slowly (later very fast :D) growing when all conditions are ok.

The fruit flies for the start are a very good idea - I have always good acceptance with them and even small & single workers can handle them :)

You may try very small drops of maple sirup. Mine usually like it more than honey and less problems with stuck.
But such a small colony really consume very less of it.


Be very carefully with the heat mat under your box. It may get to hot inside of the tube.
Did you measure it constantly on the floor near the tube ?
I always use adjustable heatmats or a socket dimmer and only heat a small part of the box / test tube directly so the ants can switch inside of the nest to cooler spots.


Also its important for the start to black-out the tube and give them some materials to reduce the entrance of the nest and dont look to often inside.
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Re: Growing a Pheidole Pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon mbservices » 2. Okt 2017 18:59

Great intel, mate! :)

This was really a constructive answer, and I already put into application your final tip : give them some materials to block the entrance of the tube.
I was actually thinking that way already, but never really did anything about it. But now that you mentioned it, I directly went out and collected some items (which I boiled before presenting them to the outworld!) So, thank you very much for this tip, which I think will definitely not hurt. I already see they are quite interested, and they seem to have some occupation now, other than simply roam around.
Just hoping they will realize what they can do with the stuff :)

I received the colony a bit less than 3 weeks ago. So, I guess you're right about them having a hard time with the transport. Maybe the stress is killing them? So, you don't think they died of age then?
I only hope there will be enough left to continue the growth eventually...

I read somewhere that it is best to feed the ants periodically, as opposed to constantly (like I have been doing). You say they accept fruitflies very well. And that is my experience too. But, present too many, and they get fed up with them. So, I guess feeding them only once every two-three days would be a good idea...

Thanks again for your kind feedback!
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Re: Growing a Pheidole Pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon mbservices » 2. Okt 2017 20:08

Sorry, I forgot to answer your question about the heatmat.

Yes, it is located only at one spot under the outworld. In fact, the back of the testtube (so, the water in front of the cotton) is really at the hottest spot of the heatmat. The ants have nested themselves on the cotton, so I suppose it is the right temperature there. Also, since the rest of the testtube goes away from the heat source, there is plenty of space for them to move further away from the heat.
The thermometer is located on the soil (hardened sand) right next to the tube where the queen etc. is more or less situated. And that is now showing a steady 25-26°c. So, I am guessing that is the right environment for them.
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Re: Growing a Pheidole Pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon HarryAnt » 2. Okt 2017 22:09

mbservices hat geschrieben:Maybe the stress is killing them? So, you don't think they died of age then?


If the mortality goes on for the next time you may have to check everything and post here again, best with Pictures. So may someone have a idea what is wrong.
But after your description I think its a aftereffect of the Transport and acclimation / stress.

Ist also good sign that you have brood. That its going less can be caused of the near small winter break.

So hopefully after the break they will start going crazy and eat you out of the house :D


I have some P. megacephala at the Moment - here you see what happends (8 months after starting with small colony) when a cockroach enter there nest area #-o :

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Re: Growing a Pheidole Pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon mbservices » 3. Okt 2017 13:58

HarryAnt hat geschrieben:

I have some P. megacephala at the Moment - here you see what happends (8 months after starting with small colony) when a cockroach enter there nest area #-o :

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I bet it didn't take long for the cockroach to be disected into little pieces :)
Well, like I said, my "colony" can't even handle a live not-flying fruitfly! :D I guess they have a long way to go still...

I just noticed another two extra mortalities just now. They really aren't doing well at all.
Also, the twigs and other stuff I put there for them to cover their nest hole, doesn't seem to be interesting enough. They are not using it at all, so the hole stays open.

Not sure what to expect. Should I maybe stop the heating and let them go into hibernation? Or what would be best to do? I am afraid that if let them go into hibernation, as the mortality stays the same, after hibernation there will be no ants left!

I hope I can get even more reactions from people who have more experience than me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are many many antfreaks out there! :)
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Re: Growing a Pheidole Pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon mbservices » 3. Okt 2017 17:58

There is so little activity on this forum! I saw many posts around 2012, and before that. But now, it seems like no one is posting here anymore.
Where are all these active users, like JimmyVe etc... ?
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Re: Growing a Pheidole pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon Jason79 » 5. Jan 2018 17:13

Greetings,

Having read your posts it looks like you have almost the same set up and problems I have had with my Pheidole pallidula. The only difference is I have a heat lamp and heat mat that keeps the environment at around 24 deg. I've had mine for three months and can't see any development. I have on more than one occasion made the assumption I had lost the colony only to then spot a lonely wandering ant. After 3 months I'm assuming that the queen is laying but I think it's at a snail's pace.
Did you ever find a good method of rearing this species?
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Re: Growing a Pheidole pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon smokejumper » 13. Jan 2018 11:01

The colony is/was inactive because they are trying to hibernate. Just wait 3-5 more weeks and they should start to become active again.
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Re: Growing a Pheidole Pallidula colony (the very beginning!

Beitragvon baumarkthammer » 16. Jan 2018 00:04

mbservices hat geschrieben:There is so little activity on this forum! I saw many posts around 2012, and before that. But now, it seems like no one is posting here anymore.
Where are all these active users, like JimmyVe etc... ?


Now that is a name I haven't heared in a looong time.
Generally the most activity is in shortlived but fast paced Facebook groups which in my opinion are rather full of misinformation... and hatred, all that hatred.
Also you have to take into account that it is winter, which is a very quite time in this forum.


What kind of brood do your ants have?
If they only have larvae I would hibernate them, otherwise I would not. Pheidole pallidula can be kept without hibernation for years anyway.
And how much brood do they have?

Workers dying of old age is also very unlikley. Even shortlived ants like Pheidole pallidula live about 2 years.
Why exactly ants are dying is very hard to tell.
Do you use talkum, oil or something like that?

Feeding such small colonies living food is not the best idea. They accept dead food much better and hunt it much quicker.

Kind Regards,
Kaj.
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