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Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


I'm am ant keeper myself! I've just finished feeding before I found this thread, but I can photograph my crappy sub 100 worker Lasius colonies next time.

I studied entomology for a while and even worked in a beneficial insectory. GAG clearly knows a lot more about ants than I do but I can tackle some of the general invertebrate questions.

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Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Organza Quiz posted:

I told my mother about this thread and she has a question! She's been seeing ants in her garden which appear to be carrying other ants. She thought it was just dead ants they were carrying at first but has noticed that they also carry other living ants. Why would they be doing that? We're in Australia.

There's a few possible reasons and it's hard to say exactly which is right. If most of the colony has decided to leave a part of the nest they can just pick-up any dissenters and bodily move them rather than wait for them to get with the program.

I sometimes see a chain of living and dead ants being carried in my garden when there's a fight between neighbouring colonies. The dead ants are probably being carried back as food, but I've never been certain about the live ants. I assume they're either crippled or else being carried toward the nest in so they can be ganked in safety.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Raenir Salazar posted:

I've been ant keeping for a while and love this content! I got some pictures over in the Ant keeping thread if you wanna look: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3880473#post507051775

I love ants, they're so smart.
e: hahaha I just realized you already post there!

e2: I am now super confused, I thought I was in the cold war thread, what happened?

e3: I figured it out now, I clicked on someone quoting you and it brought me out of the thread.

There's at least four ant threads on this goddamn forum now. We need to rationalise this.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


In the UK at least these are called nanitics. I've had a few live for a whole year, but mostly they do their job of getting another few batchs of larvae fed up and then die.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Here's a quick overview of my ants!

I have five colonies ongoing at the moment. One Messor barbarus, and four Lasius niger.

My set-ups are very humble at the moment as I have a small house (drat you Britain), and a very curious toddler, so everything has to be tidy and self-contained. This is also why my Messor colony is in a very bad way. The queens are very susceptable to stress, and unfortunately I lost the queen of a successful colony, and her replacement decided to eat all her eggs in responce to my kid bumping into the wardrobe she lives on. Currently I'm doing the desperation tactic of trying to introduce the new queen to the old colony, which is risky as gently caress since the workers will butcher her if she doesn't smell like the old colony. Right now she's sitting in a test tube with some gauze seperating her from the colony, which will hopefully let her pick up the colony smell.

I forgot to take picture of one of my Lasius colonies (never mind), but here's the remaining three. Diet is mainly fruit flies, but I'm adding in mealworms and crickets.




This is a real neat little set-up from antskit.uk . It lets you slot a test-tube nest directly into a slick modern arena. So far it's been very successful for this one year old colony.



What a crap photo! Sorry. This is actually a very successful colony, although you wouldn't know from the look of this. At one year old, they have somewhere between 60 to 80 workers. Test tubes and tupperware are annoyingly some of my most succesful set-ups.




These ladies are probably going to be hitting a hundred workers soon, judging by how many larvae they have. I've moved them into a 3d printed set-up from antsantsuk. It's... interesting. It has a perspex sheet held on by tiny molydynium magnets, which makes me very nervous but seems to work. The plan was that the colony would move into the new nest, and then I would create a foraging arena connected to it by tubes. My kid has gotten real grabby lately, and they aren't moving anyway, so the new nest is basically a playground for them at the moment.

I have big plans if I ever get a secure place to put them in, but for now I'm just building up numbers in humble containers.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Introduction of my Messor queen into the old colony has been aborted. They seemed to be accepting her, but one of the medium workers then latched onto a leg and started pulling. It could have been that she had been so accepted that the worker was forcefully dragging her to a new home, but I've decided to play it safe and give her a little bit longer in her test tube to gather up colony smell.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


I actually helped look after the only UK research colony for a bit. It was just a set of big plastic tubs that we threw wood into every so often. Whole set-up was kept in a metal temperature control room.

Technically, it was easy as pie. I would not recommend trying it at home since it would be illegal as all hell and an escape could permanently damage your home/neighborhood/country.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


My research colony came from a colony that had established in Devon for a few years until we wiped it out, so they can definitely survive temperate conditions, and European species are gradually spreading north with climate change.

These species that are easy to keep are also the species are a bit boring with less specialised castes, so it's never been much of a temptation for me.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


I've got a hunch that might be a slime mold rather than eggs, given the speed and location it's appearing at. Time will tell!

Since earwigs and parental care have both been mentioned, y'all might be interested to know earwigs are one of the few insects that engage in parental care. Females will look after their clutch until they hatch and are on their way.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Good news regarding my Messor colony! I left the new queen with the lesser workers while I went on holiday for a week, and it looks like she's been accepted. There's one worker that now chills with her in her tube, and the rest seem content to hang around not killing her. I've added some of the medium workers back into her enclosure along with some dead fruit flies and hopefully we can get egg production going again.

There's a major worker still in the old enclosure that I think I'll leave there in a quiet retirement. She attacked the queen last time they met, and she's got a set of jaws on her like crab claws. Frankly she intimidates me a little, and could easily kill the queen if she wanted.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Slime mold aren't actually a fungus, they are collection of strange groups that are entirely separate. In fact, plants, fungus and animal are more closely related to each other than we are to any slime mold group. Some of them act like one giant weird cell smeared over the ground, and some of them act like millions of separate amoeba up until they decide to clump together and sporulate. They are all very strange, and my rule of thumb if I can't identify something then it's probably a slime mold fruiting body.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Raenir Salazar posted:

Apparently there are "ant crickets" that join up with yellow crazy ants! The yellow crazy ants seem to think they're like long lost cousins or something and feed them and give them stuff to do.

"How do you do fellow ants?"
I know a lot of species that live with ants, never in my life heard of these ant crickets. Amazing.

Semirelated: A lot of stick insect species have the very first stage after hatching look like an ant. Lot of stick insect eggs get picked up by ants (some even have a little nutritious handle that gets nibbled off by the ants), so lots of stick insects hatch out in ant nests. They aren't particularly sofisticated mimics, so they mostly just run at very non-stick insect speeds and get out of Dodge as fast as they can before a real ant notices the difference. After the first moult they them slow down and look like a stick.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


OGS-Remix posted:

Well I guess I do have Argentinian ants because the baits were not enough to kill all the queens.

I'm going to buy some more bait and after their numbers die down, I'll seal up any holes I see with baking soda and silicone caulk.

For cleaning off ant trails, will steam cleaners wipe them out? I didn't want to use vinegar because the trails are on tile that I don't want to damage. I guess a baking soda mixture might work and be tile safe?

Soapy water should do the job just fine. Pheromone trails are by design fragile and temporary, and need constant reapplication by the ants. If they weren't, ants would be constantly following old trails.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


A dead ant is a potential threat to the colony. Mites, nemotoads, bacteria and fungus will transfer from a dead host to a live one. Transfering the body away from the colony is a good approach to minimise this risk.

Why they designate a graveyard/waste-tip rather than just carrying it a certain distance away from the colony, I don't know. My guess is that it's safer to have a single spot to put all your trash rather than everyone doing their own thing.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


My colonies tend to throw their dead onto the nearest piece of stale food, so my guess is all they're doing is bee-lining to the smelliest place nearby but not too close to chuck their dead and other garbage. Wouldn't be surprised to hear that there's some clever decision making going on regarding rubbish dumping.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Kanine posted:

im confused about something relating to ants and evolution

(correct me if im wrong here but) if natural selection is basically: animal gets born with random new trait -> trait is either advantageous/harmful/neutral -> if trait is harmful animal most likely dies before it can reproduce and pass on the genes, or if the trait is advantageous/neutral the animal has a higher likelihood of surviving and then passing said trait on

how do eusocial animals evolve into various specialized castes, etc?

if the queen has a single genetic sequence, how did she evolve to give birth to a bunch of different caste variations that themselves dont ever breed and pass on their genes?

edit: is there any known example of a transitional eusocial species?

So every ant contains the genetic sequence to create all of the castes in the colony, but only the queen and drones breed. So how do worker genes pass down through the generations? Quite simply, because they improve the chances of a queen reproducing and passing on those worker genes. A mutation in the queen that leads to her producing workers that are "better" in some way will go on to have more queens and drones, and so the gene becomes more common in the species.

You might like to think of it as a similar way to how your body is specialised into different organs. No liver or heart cell has ever created a new human being, but your germ cells (the lineage of cells that are set aside for reproduction) contain all the information to produce them. Better liver or heart cells lead to a better support system for the germ cells, so any mutation in the germ cells that has that effect goes on to make more humans.

There are indeed lots of semi-social animals, that you could think of as being "transitional". Some of my favourite examples are gall aphids, which produce specialised soldier aphids to defend their homes from rival aphids. Some species of parasitic wasp which lay their eggs inside insects actually have some of their young remain as larvae and grow larger mandibles to kill off the young of other wasps trying to inject into the same caterpillar.

Bug Squash fucked around with this message at 15:58 on Dec 22, 2020

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


A ruin storm has hit the UK, so I've brought my colonies in from the shed. They can tank a normal UK winter in there, but probably not -20 C crazy town winters.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


crazyvanman posted:

This thread is super cool, thanks!

A couple of antecdotes anecdotes relating to ants from my childhood that have always stayed with me. I wonder if you guys could shed any light on them?

First, when I was around 9 y/o I was digging a hole and caught a glimpse of some ants carrying what appeared to be a newt larva into their nest. This was only about a metre from a pond, so presumably they some how retrieved it from there and were taking it home to eat? Of course to my child mind I had actually uncovered an inter-species plot to overthrow humanity where ants were working with lizards and were going to work their way up the food chain until an animal conspiracy would take us down.

Second story happened around the same time, when I noticed a small patch of mud (it was rock hard as this was summer) with around 4-5 dead ants on it. What struck me was that they were just lying there, dead. They hadn't been trampled by something large, they weren't near a nest and were in good physical condition. Again at the time I marvelled at this site of undergrowth battle I had discovered, where doubtless these ant heroes had fought valiantly. But what might kill ants in this way and not bother to eat them?

Those ants were definitely dragging that newt home to eat. They are soft skinned and not very fast, so if one gets caught out of water by enough ants then it's toast.

Those dead ants were either the remains of a battle between rival colonies of ants, or a graveyard. Nearby colonies compete intensely for resources, and will fight each other to the death. If it's a graveyard, then it's a designated place that ants will carry dead siblings to. A dead ant is a potential infection risk to the colony, so keeping them away from the best helps keep it safe.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Good alternatives to feeder insects are
a) scraps of meat
b) bit of egg
c) protein jelly for reptiles

You can also get seed eater ants, like Messor barbarus.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


Meat goes off, unfortunately, so no giant steaks for the colony. Gotta change the food out at least once a week, if not sooner, or the ants will just start piling soil around it to wall off the rotting meat. I'll usually give them a little bit of beef mince if I'm cooking with it, or maybe a little bit of scrap chicken before it becomes stock, and it tends to be pretty popular.

I've seen people talk about using dried dog food, and I've given it a try but never had any success. Maybe I just have choosey ants, after spoiling them on fruitflies and offcuts.

Bug Squash
Mar 18, 2009


YOU CAN STOMP US!

YOU CAN SQUASH US!

BUT YOU'LL NEVER EVER STOP US!


I've been setting up some new formicariums, and decided to try out some play sand as a medium. The good news is that the small particle size means it can hold a lot of moisture and it's extremely easy for my ants to build and excavate. They've been building huge weird archways and structures with the stuff, and buried a few of the artificial plants in the nest box.

The reason this is a bad idea I discovered a week later when I pipetted water into the nest. Turns out any water flow causes the tunnels and structures to completely disintegrate, so now I'm forced to only add water to one corner of the enclosure and hope the ants mostly don't build there.

I'm gradually scooping out some of the sand bit by bit and I'll add in some soil substrate for the ants to mix in. I think once we've got a blend going in here to give some support that will be ideal.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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