Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 8. Apr 2011 16:01

Hello Guys , I am going to be building a new Leaf cutting ant farm ready for when i decide to purchase a colony. I have some experiance with keeping Atta cephalotes so i have incorparated what i know from that into the desighn and also added a few things along the way. All the materials have now arrived so i will be starting on this project tomorow.

Pictures will be put on and i will try to explain at each step what i do.

Regards

Adam :D
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon SteveUK28 » 9. Apr 2011 15:13

Looking forward to it Adam :)
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon Andie » 9. Apr 2011 19:19

Ill be reading this with interest as its also an ambition of mine since seeing them in Costa rica. Amazing how common they are there.
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 11. Apr 2011 10:27

Hey Guys well after a great drawn out desighn on paper and knowing in my mind how every thing goes into place im sorry to say the actual constructing and building went very bad. So bad infact i had to scrap the whole thing and start with my back up desighn. Well i have almost completed the Ant farm . I am just waiting for some more plastic containers to arrive from the reptile shop on ebay and then i can finish it. Here is my progress so far

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We made a tray to hold the Antfarm so if i needed to move it the whole unit could be picked up very easily.


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After the tray had been completed we started on cutting a plastic funnel , this later on will slide over the main entrence tube an i will cover the inside of the funnel with vasoline or talc or somthing else to stop the ants from escaping.

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While my freind was cutting the holes into the plastic containers for the tubes i started cutting the bisque tiles to lay in each container. The really great thing about bisque tiles is they absorb moisture like gypsum an then release it slowly. Great for leaf cutting ants because the fungus stays humid but not soaking and also the ants cannot cut into the tiles or tunnel like they might in gypsum or dirt. :D

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We used several sizes of acrylic tubes to attach the containers together.
Inside diameters as follows

10mm for queen containers.
28mm to attach each containers for the gardens
48mm for entrence to nest tube

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Once the tubes were cut we then started to fit them and glue them into place and slowly the nest is taking place.

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The almost finished nest , I just have to add three more containers and also build the foraging walkway to the food area for when the colony is up and running.

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This is the containers all connected (other then 3 )and mainly a picture of the queen chamber. Your notice the queen chamber is a different size and shape. This is done on purpose it is so i will be able to observe the queen in the colony and the narrowness with the height gives her ample room to move around the fungus but doesent allow her to move in to deep so i wont be able to observe her. This container also has narrower tubes attached so the smaller workers will move freely but stops her from leaving this container.Also in building this setup really it is more suited to a atta colony the acromymex. The Acromymex queen will be able to fit throu the smaller tubes.

Well thats my setup so far , i will add some more pictures next wekend when its complete and then i wait untill i can get my leaf cutting ant colony. :grin:
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon SteveUK28 » 11. Apr 2011 11:18

Looking good.. going to be great to see your ants in this :)
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon bugsy » 11. Apr 2011 12:47

Looking good mate, I guess you have experience in keeping atta. Are you going to expand the nest as the colony grows, from my experience the colony will slowly grow with the fungus then in a short period of time the colony size explodes. I know a guy who keeps many colonies, the only way he can keep the size in check is to remove boxes of fungus and ants making sure the queen isnt in any of them. I noticed your set up is in front of a radiator is this intentional?
Keep us posted, looking good so far.
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 11. Apr 2011 12:53

Hey Steve cheers buddy :D

hello Bugsy , Yes i have kept Atta before , started with a small colony and a golfball size fungus garden and then grew that to 3 football size gardens. I also had to remove a garden every now and then to stop them getting out of control. The queen will be isolated in her own chamber so it will be less worry to carry out population control. Also note the fact the set up is in front of the radiator is just coincedence. It just happens to be a empty spot there lol :D
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 14. Apr 2011 10:31

Hey guys :D I have decided to change my desighn. Im not to happy with the set up and i will be changing it, in the past i have had open foraging setups and have accidently learnt how bad a soldier biting your toes is. Also my current setup isnt expandible as i thought it would be and i know atta grows very quick. My new desighne is expandable but comes with a basic 12 clear boxes for them to fill :grin:. Well i will start building this weekend and i will be posting new pictures so it be good to hear what you guys think.

Speak soon and watch this space lol lol

8)

Regards

Adam
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 17. Apr 2011 03:09

Hi Guys well here is my new leaf cutter ant setup, its about 97 % finished all i have to do is wait a few weeks till payday so i can buy two more bits of tubing and a tank for the foraging area and link it all up. The nest construction is complete thou. Below is some photos during construction.


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This is one of the small bookshelveing unit that will be modified to take the Containers and tubing.

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These are the two bookshelve units now in place and lining the containers up to check spacing etc.

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We couldnt find any T piece tube fittings in clear so we decided to make our own :grin:

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We started to cut out the holes where the two T fittings would go and the L fitting me made.

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We have now linked up the three fittings with some smaller 50mm piping. This will be the main exit from the colony to the feeding area. All the nest containers link to this as you will see shortly. :D.

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It took us a very long time cutting angles and trying to figure out how to get the tube cut to bend in diffrent directions. I think it turned out very well. :)

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Here you can see the other section of tube going into a wall , (my bedroom lol :roll: ) This is where the foraging tank will be and as you see in the next picture.

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Here is another one of those L fittings we made , here it takes the tube along my bedroom wall to the tank , which is not there yet. Once connected this tube disappears throu the wall and back to the Setup in the shelving units.

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We finally got around after nearly a days work to start fitting the containers and linking them up. (These will hold the fungus gardens) :P. Your notice also a length of wood in the main entrance and exit tube , this has been scored alot with a small junior hacksaw so its nice and rough for the ants to grip.

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Here you see is the main air vent which will let fresh air in and let the fungus garden air out etc. I dont add vents to the Containers as i find the ants just block this up as soon as they can. There will also be vent holes all the way down the foraging tubing to the tank.


And here you will see the finished setup. All thats needed is a few more bits of long tubing to connect up the tank and then add the ants. :P :grin: Also as you can see on one of the pictures below , i have fitted a blind so when the colony is not being viewed i can lower it and darken their nest. Also its neat for when guests come over , all they will be able to see is a piece of weird looking furniture until they notice ants walking out of it :lol: :lol:.
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And finally here is the queen chamber, It is four smaller containers joined together. The idea is four small fungus gardens are here so the queen can wander between these but not go so deep as to not be seen. The containers also connect to the rest of the setup but do so by two smaller tubes that do not allow the queen throu. Therefore ensuring i know her whereabouts in need of any emergency or if i were to carry out population control. :D

Well theres my setup , hope you guys like it , feel free to comment or voice your opinions, it will also be good to see what your comments are. And also i will upload some more pictures once i get some more wages in a few weeks and buy my tank. And then i will update when i finally buy myself an Atta colony.

Regards

Adam :grin:
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon bugsy » 17. Apr 2011 12:23

Very nice, this is similar to something I had in mind. What size colony are you starting with and will the colony have full access to the whole nest or are you going to block it off. Also I am keen to know how your going to maintain humidity/temp etc. Are you going to use perlite or similar? Are you going to maintain humidity in the fungus chambers or in empty chambers and allow the the heat to flow through. Loads of questions sorry ha ha, these are some of the issues i came across when keeping them. Fantastic setup, love the hole through the wall idea, brilliant viewing. =D>
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 17. Apr 2011 15:01

Hello Bugsy i will be starting off with a small colony hopfully about 50-100 ants maybe. The humidity isnt really a problem ive found all the boxes are sealed and the ants will regulate the humidity by blocking up and narrowing the entrences. Also the containers are lined with bisque tiles these will be wetted to start off and then i will let the humidity from the fungus gardens do the rest. I found out with keeping my last colony that once the fungus garden was over a tennis ball size it wasnt necessary to add water , i only had to add leaves that had a higher water content or dryer leavs to lower the humidity. the ants really are good themselves at keeping the conditions right. As for heating the colony i didnt heat my last one, My bungalow is kept fairly warm throuout winter with my heating and during the spring and summer it gets warm enougth. Also once the fungus gardens get bigger they put out alot of heat thmeselves which will keep the chambers warm enought.

I may have been lucky with my first colony but i didnt really have any problems and other then adding leaves i left it upto the ants. The entrences were blocked one day then opened the next etc im sure they know what to do lol. The only problem i did have was when it gets too hot outside i have to close all curtains , blinds etc and keep my bungalow as cool as possible.

And finally i will allow the colony full access to the whole setup. But i will feed them via the chambers next to where the fungus gardens are to start off with. When the fungus is filling one container i will spoon abit off and place it in a new container and slowly this way i will fill up all the containers.

Hope ive answered your questions , if not feel free to ask away :lol:

Regards

Adam
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon bugsy » 18. Apr 2011 11:54

Sounds like its all going to work well, cant wait to see your progress. I also agree on an Atta soldier bite, it does hurt, wouldn't want them roaming freely around my living room. Have you decided on your sub-species yet?
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 18. Apr 2011 12:35

Hello Bugsy , im thinking Atta cephalotes as they are abit more easy to keep and more forgiven out of all the atta colonys i have looked into , plus my last colony was Atta cephalotes aswell.

The subspecies i would really like would be Atta texana , they are the only Attas known to be polygnes and mature colonys commonly contain more then one queen. I think thats a great advantage if adding a new queen was needed or you could start of the colony with two or three queens. Only problem is no one sells this subspecies :cry:

Regards

Adam
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon SteveUK28 » 20. Apr 2011 09:40

Excellent stuff mate, i have thought about making the same kind of thing myself... Stunning stuff.. i really cant wait now to see some ants in there :D
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Re: Leaf cutting Ant Farm Project

Beitragvon adam james » 20. Apr 2011 11:29

Hello Steve Cheers buddy , i cannot wait to buy my ant colony im just waiting till pay day in first week of may then i shall get them :P

Regards

Adam
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