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Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

I'd like to put mine in a terrarium but I don't know how I would handle their hibernation needs.

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Sharks Eat Bear
Dec 25, 2004

Ain't got half a what you thought you had

Goons Are Great posted:

Crazy ants are super special. [snip]

Wow, fascinating! Thanks. It sounds like the article is actually about a different species of crazy ant, the Nylanderia fulva aka Rasberry crazy ant aka tawny crazy ant. Not sure if the same genetic quirk applies, but also seems like their spread has still been "contained" to the Gulf coast rather than sweeping across the continental US... These are the ones that seem to be attracted to electrical equipment; the article mentions a few instances of people only discovering they have infestations after an appliance short circuits and when they go to suss it out, they find a mass of ants.

This might be a dumb Q - but why would it have taken this long for crazy ants to spread so far, given their ability to out-compete other species? I get that global trade & climate change are massive drivers of invasive species, but it seems like crazy ants are so successful that they should have been able to invade even without human intervention.

aphid_licker
Jan 7, 2009

eyebrowse


Pillbug

I was kinda rolling my eyes at what I thought was sensationalist reporting by the NYT, so fuckin lol at learning that they're really actually exactly that bad.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Raenir Salazar posted:

I'd like to put mine in a terrarium but I don't know how I would handle their hibernation needs.

It's fairly modest set-ups, size wise. I bought this https://bugzarre.co.uk/Ant-Housing-Arena-Vented and they accidently sent me two of the larger containers (which are actually different looking from the ones pictured here and look really nice). Despite the budget price, they're actually really nice containers. Fit cleanly in the gap between my stationary cupboard and the lowest shelf of my book case.

Since I wound up with two large ones, I made the jump and moved my two Tupperware colonies into them as nests. All I've done is put the test tube nests straight into them after half filling them with sand. The queens and young are mostly remaining in the tubes, which I'm happy with since there's no chance of collapse.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Sharks Eat Bear posted:

Wow, fascinating! Thanks. It sounds like the article is actually about a different species of crazy ant, the Nylanderia fulva aka Rasberry crazy ant aka tawny crazy ant. Not sure if the same genetic quirk applies, but also seems like their spread has still been "contained" to the Gulf coast rather than sweeping across the continental US... These are the ones that seem to be attracted to electrical equipment; the article mentions a few instances of people only discovering they have infestations after an appliance short circuits and when they go to suss it out, they find a mass of ants.

This might be a dumb Q - but why would it have taken this long for crazy ants to spread so far, given their ability to out-compete other species? I get that global trade & climate change are massive drivers of invasive species, but it seems like crazy ants are so successful that they should have been able to invade even without human intervention.

Yeah it does, the entire genus is, to a varying degree, capable of this mechanism, but only this one species is considered a world wide pest, the rest is more or less contained.

Human intervention was needed mostly because of the distances they needed to cross. These ants are basically surrounded by enemies that decimate them so successfully in their ecosystem that spreading is not really happening, hence why most species of this kind are usually endemic to one specific spot. Inside of this bubble they were under such intense evolutionary pressure by predators and the environment that they developed such new, adaptive way to react to it and thus managed to survive.
We exported them out of this bubble and into the world, where they had nothing to fear and found easy prey everywhere. Plus, they figured that human settlements in particular are ideal places to live, as we for some reason always keep our houses warm and don't tolerate cold, always have food around and do a lot of stuff they like, too. Additionally, research suggests that this special genetic mechanism that really tipped the scale in their favor is an extremely new development, probably from the past 400 to 300 years, which is nothing in evolution time.

It's like they grew up in a brutal level environment where they barely survived. Now they find themselves overpowered outside of their native habitat.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



I was in limestone country the other day, and was looking at an anthill directly above a cave. Most of the anthill was regular spoil, but around each entrance was a pinch of bright white sand. Were the ants actually chewing through the limestone to expand their hill?

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Depending on the species, yes, certainly! Many ants can chew through extremely tough materials, most can do it but don't use it unless they need to though. Ant mandibles and the entire mouth apparatus consisting out of the mandibles plus maxilla are extremely efficient at biting through stuff, as they can use a minimal amount of energy to put a maximum amount of pressure on a very small area. Most new world ant species, for example, have no problems chewing through hardened concrete. It takes time and a lot of ants, of course, but time is not a resource they aren't willing to spare and if there's a reason to do so, there always will be enough ants to do that. Regular minerals, like stones you find just lying around, are no problem for most ant species in general.

That said, limestone is relatively soft and easy to work with, hence why we use it a lot for our stuff. In that case, however, when laying it out on the entrance, there might be a different reason why they do that, since when burrowing they usually have a designated spot where they dump the soil they dig up. Depending on the origin of the limestone there, it might be that it has certain antiseptic qualities. Since the material limestone is made of, mostly calcium carbonate, is very vulnerable to low pH environments and water in and around caves often tends to be a bit acidic, they can use it to dissolve the limestone slowly, lay it out on the entrance and disinfect incoming ants. They can detect it, too, since when dissolving through acid, limestone produces a ton of carbon dioxide, which the ants are capable of sensing using their antenna.
That's a thing that is well known and researched from ants harvesting resin from trees, sometimes even by systematically inflicting minor wounds into the tree to provoke resin production and harvest it later. They then lay it in and around the nest and use its antiseptic quality based on the oils and carboxylic acids to kill of germs and treat infected ants.

It's just a possibility of course, there could be a lot of reasons they do that specifically at that spot, but it seems possible to me.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

Goons Are Great posted:

It's like they grew up in a brutal level environment where they barely survived. Now they find themselves overpowered outside of their native habitat.

Anime is getting out of hand!

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Anime is forbidden in the ant world

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

Goons Are Great posted:

Anime is forbidden in the ant world

*Sadly puts away gamedev concept art of anime style Norse ants*

Stoner Sloth
Apr 2, 2019




From what I've read that pressure cooker situation of "warring" ant species is why they developed their behaviour of treating fire ant venom too, they're one of the few ant species that seem to be able to deal with them well because they grew up in the same places and crazy ants evolved strategies to thrive despite them.



That's interesting. I'd wondered if it was to do with heat control of the nest - like darker stones will trap heat and keep it warmer, light reflective stuff will stop it heating up as much. Seen ants here do that to regulate the temp of their anthills/nests.

ninjewtsu
Oct 9, 2012



Why are some crazy ants attracted to electricity? What's beneficial about that/what other factors led to them developing that behavior?

Also I am tickled pink to learn that the secret that makes crazy ants so scary is "their queens can Go gently caress Themselves"

ninjewtsu fucked around with this message at 21:47 on Apr 7, 2021

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


ninjewtsu posted:

Why are some crazy ants attracted to electricity? What's beneficial about that/what other factors led to them developing that behavior?

Also I am tickled pink to learn that the secret that makes crazy ants so scary is "their queens can Go gently caress Themselves"

It's warm is my guess which means faster larval development, same reason the xenomorphs built their nest over the reactor. They probably don't sense the electricity at all.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Yup, it's most likely that. Technically we don't know if they sense electricity and it's not entirely impossible that they can using their hyper sensitive antenna, but it seems rather unlikely, simply as there is no observable reason for them to develop such a specific skill. Just like with pharaoh ants being driven to move into computers or start fires by chewing through cables, it's most likely the heat that they want to use or transport around for various reasons, not the electricity itself.

Even if they were able to sense it, and again it's entirely possible there are animals who can do that, our regular power levels are probably way too high for them to handle. Even eels who can do that and use and generate electricity use it at a very, very low level, simply as it's not efficient to generate, sense or handle that much energy, unless you want to power a city.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

You have no idea how pissed I was when it seemed like my 600$ computer monitor might have been bricked by dem' pharaohs. I could literally see them between the glass and the LEDs. A literal bug in my computer!

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



I am not entirely convinced that Pharaoh ants as a species specifically exist to annoy humans tbh, they are insanely effective at it.

aphid_licker
Jan 7, 2009

eyebrowse


Pillbug

Carpantry

https://i.imgur.com/mAYVlch.mp4

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice


Wow I've read they leave a pile below their nest but that's crazy.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Awww look at them go, they are so much better at organizing this than I will ever be

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

My myrmica rubra (new colony, 30 queens) seems to be giving no shits about the crickets milling about their outworld and are all just like huddled up in the nest. Hrm.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



That just happens. They only need proteins when they plan to expand or have to feed their young, so hunting is a waste of resources if they can't use it straight away.
Hell, it may not be ants, but I fed my scorpion some locusts around four months ago, he never touched them until they were fully grown up and already mating. Then, suddenly, in a matter of a few days, he went on a killing spree and murdered them all to have the nest back on his own.

I guess sometimes you just don't feel like having a hotdog, even if said hotdog is living right next to you, ready to be eaten.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Crickets can put up a surprisingly good fight. A friend of mine gave his mantis nymphs a serving of cricket nymphs, and the next day only about five of the hundred odd mantises hadn't been eaten.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

Bug Squash posted:

Crickets can put up a surprisingly good fight. A friend of mine gave his mantis nymphs a serving of cricket nymphs, and the next day only about five of the hundred odd mantises hadn't been eaten.

Hrm, maybe I'll crush them again; I thought Rubra seemed aggressive enough to take em' out but maybe not.

aphid_licker
Jan 7, 2009

eyebrowse


Pillbug

Bug Squash posted:

Crickets can put up a surprisingly good fight. A friend of mine gave his mantis nymphs a serving of cricket nymphs, and the next day only about five of the hundred odd mantises hadn't been eaten.

That's kinda inspirational tbh. WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

aphid_licker posted:

That's kinda inspirational tbh. WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT

Adorably I gave my campos a cricket once, saw that it wasn't properly dead when I gave it after it tussled with a worker who ran away; I took my tongs and re-crushed it and the worker came back and mounted it asserting its dominance; as if to say, "I did it, I killed the BEAST."

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Raenir Salazar posted:

Hrm, maybe I'll crush them again; I thought Rubra seemed aggressive enough to take em' out but maybe not.

They're probably a bit more caughtious as it's a young colony. Crickets are only a danger if they catch you moulting, in which case, hey, free protein. For ants this shouldn't be a problem as anyone vulnerable should be safely in the nest.

VictualSquid
Feb 29, 2012

Gently enveloping the target with indiscriminate love.


Hugs and greetings from the aliexpress thread:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000076135871.html

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice



Communist Ants.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



News from planet ants: My ants broke out and started a full scale invasion of my other pets. They figured that only a few meters right of them there is a nice, cozy enclosure full of tasty insects and launched a huge invasion force to get a snack of them. Took me a day to find and fix the spot they used to get out and I'm still collecting ants and throwing back in. Total casualties, at least three baby roaches and a lot of severely traumatized pets.

Keep your ant enclosures safe! They will not hesitate to eat your other pets!

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

Which pets other than feeder insects would be most to fear from an ant invasion? What species of ants launched the raids? DINOPONERA!?!!!???

New outworld for my ants:





Reorganizing my Ant room/shelf in general.

palindrome
Feb 3, 2020



When a colony is raiding another colony, do we get friendly fire incidents? I'm imagining that down in the enemy tunnels you may not be able to tell friend from foe with 100% accuracy. The chaos and confusion of the close fighting could lead to your buddy ant accidentally identifying you as an enemy and ripping your head off.

How do ant colonies distinguish themselves from each other when in close proximity, especially those of the same species? Do colonies have extremely unique pheromone profiles that are effective identifiers? Do they use visual or other sensory clues as well?

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Raenir Salazar posted:

Which pets other than feeder insects would be most to fear from an ant invasion? What species of ants launched the raids? DINOPONERA!?!!!???

New outworld for my ants:





Reorganizing my Ant room/shelf in general.

Oh no, it's my tame Lasius colony that launched the invasion and they tried to get a hold of my roaches and woodlice I keep together, as well as the baby locusts that currently are with them. Those aren't even feeder insects for them, the roaches are far too big for them, but apparently they were ravenous enough to engage them anyways. We're talking 8 to 10cm big roaches fighting off dozens of ants climbing on top of them, it was crazy!

That outworld is gorgeous, the recent incident also motivated me to redesign my setup and I'm getting new stuff soon got a full do-over of both the outworld as well as their nest. I hope they'll like it!!

palindrome posted:

When a colony is raiding another colony, do we get friendly fire incidents? I'm imagining that down in the enemy tunnels you may not be able to tell friend from foe with 100% accuracy. The chaos and confusion of the close fighting could lead to your buddy ant accidentally identifying you as an enemy and ripping your head off.

How do ant colonies distinguish themselves from each other when in close proximity, especially those of the same species? Do colonies have extremely unique pheromone profiles that are effective identifiers? Do they use visual or other sensory clues as well?

So ants identify each other almost exclusively via smell. Every colony has a very, very specific colony smell that is based on a specific mixture of pheromones (up to 23 different pheromones in one mixture so far were identified for this purpose, probably a lot more!) they can create. This smell is so unique due to the high number of chemicals mixed together and the really insane ability of ants to smell. If you think dogs can smell well, think again when it comes to ants!
If you look through the eyes of an ant, it seems likely that for them, the world is almost entirely smelling. They see their sisters and family in one color, foreign ants in a bright, different one, prey in yet another one, a potential danger, say, a mammal ripping up their nest, in even another. Honey smells different based on what the bees collected to produce it, honeydew changes its composition based on what plants the aphids are eating, ants change smell based on where they were born. Imagine, harvester ants that collects seeds are able to sort them by species, as they can smell what plant this seed will become!

This system is so efficient that there is rarely a case of friendly fire during ant raids. Army ants can do this en mass and distinguish between each other even when thousands of ants jump onto a single victim. The only case where they do get confused is when something begins to smell like their own, for example because it's literally covered in ant blood and parts of slain corpses, in which case they can still figure out how they act, where they are going, if they present a danger or not.

Parasitic ants use this setup for their own gain, too, where the parasites deliberately kill lone ants to bath in their blood over and over again until they start to smell like they belong there. Afterwards they carry the corpse of a killed ant on their backs or keep parts of their victim in their mandibles to appear like them, too, and act accordingly carefully. They sneak into the nest and kill the victim queen stealthily to also cover themselves in their smell and take their place without the other ants noticing. If they do notice, they kill them right away, or get killed by their sisters who fell for the trick and believe there's an ant attacking the (false) queen, resulting in a civil war between those who fell for the parasite and those who didn't.
Even still, these tactics only work in a fraction of the attempts made, around 94% of parasitic queens trying this get killed in the process as the smell they try to obtain is so specific that the ants can't be fooled. So even when someone tries to abuse this setup for their own gain, it rarely succeeds.

The same goes for other species of animals living alongside ants in their colonies. There are tons of bugs, spiders like mites or other arthropods living in their homes and they usually use a mixture of obtaining the colony's smell, not seeking any trouble and staying away from ants as much as possible to be left alone. Casualties still happen very often, though, so ants definitely have a very, very clear image of how their own family looks like and can clearly distinguish between them and strangers.

Goons Are Great fucked around with this message at 07:49 on May 21, 2021

palindrome
Feb 3, 2020



Cool, great ant facts. It's hard to believe that ants can smell pheromones with such accuracy that they can pick a single enemy individual out of the mob and attack it, but that's nature for you. If smell is your primary sense and how you interact with the world then it stands to reason that's how you perceive the world. Interesting how it can be exploited as well, thanks for all the examples. I still marvel occasionally how a simple individual animal like an ant can accomplish great things in great numbers. Obviously they evolved to do exactly that but it's fascinating. I've read about how one can conceive of the entire colony as a "single organism" but my mammal brain has trouble not identifying with the individual ants.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



That's entirely natural, mammals in general but primats in particular are made to think for themselves and act individually, we can't even cooperate when our life depends on it, unless given a structure (like a hierarchy) to do so. This makes it pretty much impossible for us to imagine how it is to be an ant and what their motivation is.

Imagine seeing the world through smelling only (there are various ant species that entirely lack eyes, for example, and ants in general have no ears of any kind) being able to smell friend and foe, hunt by smell, take care of your kids by smell and taste. In a more general approach, there's the epistemological approach asking the question "What is it like to be a bat?" due to seeing the world through ultra sonic waves, but the same, a bit more abstract question can be applied ants, asking "What is it like to be part of a collective?"
That's what fascinates me so much about these amazing animals, just observing their behavior and asking myself, what might drive this particular ant doing this specific job. Asking an ant colony this, it might be a bit like asking your arm why he does what he does and that's so exciting to think about, I think!

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

Considering the majority of ants are female and presumably virigins, is a parasitic queen basically Carmilla/Elizabeth Bathory?

"Hello fellow ants..."



By "tame" you just mean you happen to have them captive right. I don't think the tame vs domesticated distinction makes sense for most insects

A side note about ants/eyes/seeing iirc; there are some ants with very developed eyes/eyesight, particularly for vision at night. I think its bull or bullet ants? You can wave your finger around in front of them and you can see them follow its movement.

This morning loooooads of workers are all in their various outworlds, maybe its warmer towards the window?


Hey look at what my ants have been up to overnight:



vs:



It's not like the outworld is the nest right, why do they like to do landscaping?


Myrmica rubra aka my discount fire ants:



They're really liking the outworld it seems.



Ants are having a concert I assume.



Setup. I've ordered another one of the smaller outworld's you see with the aim to replace the tupperware container.

In general the outworlds that come with the minihearths I've found are a little unmanageable when there's enough ants in them, especially since the fluon has lost a bit of effectiveness due to humidity, so the larger outworlds let me use larger liquid feeders and its easier to clean I hope.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

My fire ants are doing some World War Z(ed) poo poo.





My campos are also preferring the tubes/glass for their hang out point, not sure whats going on there.

Ants in my tubes instead of my internets.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Raenir Salazar posted:

By "tame" you just mean you happen to have them captive right. I don't think the tame vs domesticated distinction makes sense for most insects

A side note about ants/eyes/seeing iirc; there are some ants with very developed eyes/eyesight, particularly for vision at night. I think its bull or bullet ants? You can wave your finger around in front of them and you can see them follow its movement.

No I mean domesticated, my ants are friends that do the household for me

I meant tame because it's "just" Lasius, you know, easy to go, care free ants that are happy with anything and usually aren't that much into invasions, war or anything, they just want to herd some aphids, get their honey, eat insects and grow, grow, grow with their one brave queen doing all the work.
However, yeah, there are ants with spectacular eye sight, but that's rather uncommon. Most ants rely on smelling via their antenna to move around, but of course, this varies greatly between species. Some ants don't have eyes at all, others have rather small antenna and rely on eyes instead, it entirely depends on the circumstances. Either way, the way an ant thinks about and perceives its own colony is probably very special!

Also, some of my ants decided, again, that the nest is a bit too moist for some selected (mostly major) babies, so they moved into the connection pipe. They do this every now and then to reach optimal humidity and temperature for the brood.
This allows some special insight in their every day life though, so I made a short video of them going about their business! You can see ants carrying in their most recent food (fruit flies), ants taking care of the larvae (the small, somewhat colorless beans on the left side) and, at the end of the video, the big pile of pupae on the right side of the tube, with brood workers all over the place in between. Cleaning, caring for the babies, covering them in saliva, you can even see two ants feeding each other via tropholaxis (the process of transporting food from one stomach into another) at the end, shortly before the pupae are visible. This is just a fraction of their brood and actual numbers, as they seem only to select a few specific babies for the tube treatment, the rest is inside the nest with the queen, where multitudes more workers take care of everything.
https://thumbs.gfycat.com/RepulsiveDeadAztecant-mobile.mp4

Nofeed
Sep 14, 2008


That's a really sweet video, still images don't really capture the sheer quantity of work that the colony is performing at any given moment.

Goons Are Great
Jan 1, 1970



Well yeah, but honestly..



Absolutely, I find it even inspiring to look into the nest or even just the outworld and observe them being busy at all times. They are never lazy, never slow, there's always something happening somewhere! Some take care of the brood, help the queen, feed each other, clean up dirt or food remains, some others scout the outworld, forage for new food, dig new holes or entire tunnel networks, manage the junkyard or bury deceased ants at the ant cemetery.
The ants are such a refreshing view to my other pets that usually don't do a lot, like my spider that hasn't moved out of her house in 4 months now, they're always active and creative. I wish I had this energy!

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Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

USNews: Biden approves $735M weapons sale to Israel


College Slice

My myrmica are lazy, otherwise why do some workers drag other workers around with them!

Also I think I've read something somewhere where about 30% of a given ant colony is in an "inactive" state and switches to "active" through attrition.

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