I would like to introduce myself. I am Karline, 32 years, and I did research on the behaviour of monkeys in the rainforest of Indonesia and Africa. At the moment I am employed by the University of Amsterdam to set up a practical for 100 second and third year Biology students. The department traditionally works on mites and I thought it may be nice to do something new. Last year I did a few experiments on the use of chemical markers on food trails. We had dug out a couple of nests. I didn’t know about this site by then and I didn’t know that the colony had no way of surviving. In short, I know nothing about ants. I have read your site with a lot of interest. I think it’s a great site!
From reading all the messages on the forum I understood that it would be best if I would start to set up a Lasius niger colony. I selected a couple of questions (I have so many!) and hope that someone will be able to help me.
The practical is planned on the 5th of Februari till the end of May. I cannot change that. Its not the best period, since the ants will still be in hibernation. Is it possible to wake them up a little earlier?
I have learned from other researchers that in the lab you can simulate summer, with the right temperature and daylight hours, but some animals (like parasitic wasps (Nasonia spp) stay less active than during the summer despite this. Would this be the same for Lasius niger. We would like to do choice tests, where they choose between two trails, to test if they use the food trails of other colonies. But for this they need to be a little active…
Do you think that if I would order a colony of 100-200 individuals in September that this would be the same number in Februari if I do not let them go to sleep? I read that workers only live 1.5 months, do I figured the ants need to stay active to have any new ants still alive in February. How many eggs does a queen lay per day?
In total I would need 12 colonies of about 100-200 individuals. I read that only one fourth of the queens are actually fertilized/able to start a colony. Would that mean that I would need to order 48 queens?
Is it possible to cover the outside area with a net, instead of with anti escape products. (The housing does not necessarily need to look nice, as the ants are used for education and are not in my living room).
Is it possible to use boiled egg yolk instead of fruit flies to avoid fungi? Or can I maybe boil the flies before feeding the ants?
At the german website I saw that it is an option to buy honey that is colored, so that you can distinguish the ants that ate from it. Would this also work with lasius niger, or does it only work for more lightly colored species?
Lastly, I wondered if anyone knows the origin of the queens that are sold by Antstore. Do they all originate from the same colony and are they closely related? And is it possible maybe to get queens from different colonies, so that we can look at genetic variation?
I hope I did not ask too many questions and that someone will be willing to help me. I need some help, that’s for sure!