It’s been two weeks since my last post and there have been lots of new developments. Firstly, I have had some new arrivals!
After taking a look around at various formicariums and researching where to buy Messor barbarus (because who doesn’t love harvester ants who can produce soldiers?), I soon stumbled upon AntHouse.es. This company has an unusual sales strategy – the ants are free so long as you buy a formicarium for them. They also had a reputation for being generous with their colonies, so I decided to give them a try.
Here’s what I got:
Quite a bundle
I’d placed a colony of Messor barbarus in the basket, but it also seemed as though the formicarium itself came with a colony of Camponotus barbaricus – I emailed to say that I wasn’t sure if I’d ordered both colonies or not, but I could house both if I had. On opening the package, I found that AntStore had not only sent both, but thrown in an extra tube of Camponotus for a total of three free colonies – bargain!
The colonies look healthy (to my untrained eye) and all came with a good number of workers, so I got to see them in action without delay. They also included a free vial each of protein syrup and mineral oil for escape prevention, which were nice surprises. I’ll definitely be using this company again.
I popped one of the Camponotus colonies straight into the enclosed formicarium but the queen took quite some persuading to leave her tube – I tried using an LED torch to encourage her to leave but in the end had to resort to tapping the tube.
I’m using a heat mat as they’re from Spain, but unfortunately this has a tendency to produce a fair bit of condensation inside the nest. A few stray grass seeds have sprouted but don’t seem to be doing the colony any harm.
Meanwhile, the Messor colony is in temporary accommodation (the foraging box). Unlike my Lasius niger, this queen is quite adventurous and often comes out patrolling herself:
Still, that’s not really fitting for a queen. I think she needs something a little more regal. Something like ekimmik’s design:
Not quite tothe same standard, obviously, as I’ve had less practice than him. Still, everyone starts somewhere. I decided to learn from my experience with the plaster nest I’m making (I’ve worn a grinding bit smooth on it and still only have chambers deep enough for something like Pheidole pallidula…) and cast the chambers in directly. I also used a rapid-set cement mix to see whether it works well. Here are the results:
Started to set within half an hour or so, but I left it overnight before turning out due to how runny a mix I used. Even so, the mix is still not fully dry and a bit fragile.
A couple of scratches – oddly, sustained while cleaning , not during release
Here it is with the clay removed and decoration added to the top. I’ve sealed the edges with PVA and the plan is to paint everything but the chambers and tunnels themselves to make it a bit more interesting – I’m looking forward to getting it all cleaned up and ready!
Finally, the Lasius niger are now in the temporary home I showed on this blog earlier. Not very easy to see, unfortunately, but I’ll have a proper home for them soon: