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!