questions about research and starting a new ant colony

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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon Karlien » 7. Sep 2007 16:37

Hi, 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!

Cheers,
Karline
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon Kiam » 7. Sep 2007 16:46

First off all you cannot buy an ant colony off antstore with 100-200 ants off lasius niger and all antstore queens are fertilized so you will need 12 with colony and workers live up to a year the ants do not need to hibernate them you can i think hibernate them some other time... the outside area with a net I think you can do that about the fruit flies bit i do not know

And for your last one I aint sure but I think someone at antstore will have to tell you this ;)
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon miszt » 7. Sep 2007 16:54

Ants do not have to hibernate, and infact if they are kept at room tempreture they wont, however they wont be as healthy, and possibly wont behave in a natrual way which may influence your research, however, if you buy them now, and hibernate them early, then wake them up one month before you need them to be active, they should be fine :) be sure to change the tempreture slowly, they hibernate when the temp is less than 10C, so bring it up from about 8C to room temp over ~4-6weeks

Early workers generally dont live very long, but the second generation live upto a year, a colony of 100+ will be all second & third generation

Misconception about queen fertility there, if the colony has workers, then she is fertilized :) that % probly comes from the nuptial flights

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).


what do you mean?

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?


no, somthing to do with the way the protiens change when they are cooked, you would still need to remove the food daily to prevent mold anyway, also getting colonys to accept home made protien jellys is hard work, much better ot get yourself a box of crickets, freeze them, then drop one or two in hot water every day to feed them, removing uneaten food in the process

You can see the Gaster of the ants swell up when they gorge on food, so its possible you could die honey for research, be very careful doing this, there was some research similar to this a while ago, might be worth looking into to find out which colorants worked and which kill/damaged the colony
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon miszt » 7. Sep 2007 16:56

you need to be carefull letting ants forage in the same area, Lasius Niger are VERY aggresive, and you will have battles on your hands constantly, and possibly colonys wiped out
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon miszt » 7. Sep 2007 17:02

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).


sorry, i misread, yes you could do that, if you can find a narrow enough gaged net
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon JimmyVe » 7. Sep 2007 17:26

Off topic;
(i'm already dealing with this tread on the Dutch forum so i'm not going to write things here ;) ) lol
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon Karlien » 24. Sep 2007 18:41

Hello! :D
Im sorry for taking so long to answer. Thank you so much for all your advice!
I will just buy some crickets and freeze them then. My colleagues, who work on predator mites in the same lab, will be happy about that, because they were afraid that the crickets would escape!

One other question. So I thought I could buy a colony at the Dutch web shop that had 100-200 ants. But they told me that the information on the website is wrong. So now, Im trying to find colonies via the forum.
I now have one colony from the Netherlands, another will be send to me from Germany and some others from Belgium and France. It would be really neat if I could also get an ant colony from the UK. In that way we could investigate the effect of genetic differences on the recognition of trail pheromones.

But Im not sure how easy it is to send a colony from the UK to the mainland.

Does anyone on this forum have a spare Lasius niger colony that I could use for the ethology course at the University of Amsterdam?
I am happy to pay for the costs of transport or other costs involved.

Thank you,
Karline
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon miszt » 24. Sep 2007 19:41

ah, i thought you where looking for 100+ colonys, my colonys have ~20 workers atm, as they are this years flight queens :) should have 100 by march next year if they arent hibernated (although they will be if i still have them)
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon Kiam » 24. Sep 2007 19:47

I have one with 100+ but its in a formicarium and i have no intentions on taking them out the rest have like 10-30 :s
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon arthurnottheking » 17. Dez 2019 11:23




Hello Karline,

I study Ant Chemosensory Biology at Vanderbilt University. Could you please share the materials you used for your research? We work on a collaborative project with Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management program students:
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Re: questions about research and starting a new ant colony

Beitragvon Serafine » 17. Dez 2019 13:09

Date of last post:
-> Mon Sep 24, 2007 6:47 pm

Sorry, but I doubt she's still here.
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