Acromyrmex Octospinosus Journal 5 months in

Let everyone see the story of your colony(ies) over time. Pictures, developments, success and failures, what works / what doesn't, and your plans for expansion as time goes by!
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Cheew
Egg
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:51 pm

Acromyrmex Octospinosus Journal 5 months in

Post by Cheew » Tue Apr 07, 2020 12:30 am

Hi,
I have been meaning to do this for a while.
I received my ants in October 2019 from Andrew, Royal mail kindly sent them on a mystery tour around the country, and instead of receiving them the next day before 1pm they ended up getting here after 2 days in the mail.

The ants themselves were fine but the fungus was all but gone. I was gutted as this was my 2nd attempt at leaf cutters.
The first attempt failing miserably.

I had everything ready in the spare room.

Image20191002_205348 by cheeew, on Flickr

The ants arrived, it was at this point I realised I had not thought this through.
I cut a hole in their box to allow them to get out for leaves and dump their waste.

Image20191012_125742 by cheeew, on Flickr

They quickly set about taking some bramble leaves back to the box.
The ants ignored the "perfect container" which I had provided for them , complete with temperature and humidity monitors, and continued to live from the chinese food carton they arrived in.

Image20191019_140746 by cheeew, on Flickr

I decided to half fill the "perfect container" with peat to entice them in. However the ants had a better idea, they started to move the peat into their chinese food container. (facepalm)

Image20191020_133503 by cheeew, on Flickr

Taking matters into my own hands, I opened their container to make their environment less than suitable and force them to move.
This had the desired effect and they began to excavate the peat immediately. They had basically moved everyone in in less than a day. So i removed the ugly chinese food container. (hooray)

Image20191105_084317 by cheeew, on Flickr

About a week went by ( i think) with the ants living hidden in the "perfect container", the monitors said the humidity was 100% and the temps fluctuated between 24-26C most of the time. The aquarium setup was working quite well.
I have found, keeping the water at exactly 29C still does not stabilise the temp in the aquarium. The temp will still be affected by the temperature external to the tank, with a window open in the room, the tank temp can drop as low as 22C and rise as high 27 with the window closed (before I open the window again).
I have alarms setup from the temp monitors which give me notifications on my phone if the temps go too high or too low. I monitor the real time temps on a widget on my android phone. (very handy)
Anyway, a week went by and I notice that they had cleared one side of the container and I could see some fungus for the first time.
This was the first time I had hope for the colony, although I still had not seen the Queen. (more on that later).

Image20191106_200656 by cheeew, on Flickr

Inside (I couldn't help myself)

Image20191110_114901 by cheeew, on Flickr

The fungus grew from a ping pong ball size to a tennis ball over the next couple of weeks and I was happy with the progress.
But.. I still had not seen the queen or any larvae, I was sure it was just a matter of time before they all just decided to stop working and die as there was no queen.

My previous attempt was with Atta and there was no mistaking the queen with them, but I decided to be positive and hope the queen was just smaller and I hadn't noticed her.

Image20191201_151907 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20191226_170859 by cheeew, on Flickr

Some random evergreen leaves they liked during the winter.

Image20200104_193429 by cheeew, on Flickr

Over winter the fungus filled the 1L container they were living in, and I noticed the first larvae!!!
The ants started to explore the aquarium more than ever probing every corner 24/7 so I decided to give them a bigger home.

ImageIMG-20191214-WA0016 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20200119_154247 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20200119_185744 by cheeew, on Flickr

Again, their new "Even more perfect container" was not of any interest to them.
So again I took matter into my own hands and using some kitchen tongs and lots of swearing, I took the lid off the smaller container and moved about 1L of fungus and an infeasible number of ants, more that I could have imagined could live in the container, into their new home.

Image20200121_175601 by cheeew, on Flickr

They Loved it. (probably)

Image20200121_175615 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20200122_170712 by cheeew, on Flickr

They rebuilt the fungus quickly, so quickly that it toppled over onto their doorway, restricting the airflow into the new container.
The restricted airflow caused the ants to gather all the larvae and drop them at the entrance, I assume to get oxygen.
So I pushed the fungus against the back wall of the container and all was good again.

Image20200127_200313 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20200127_200548 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20200203_161906 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20200211_054956 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20200211_055001 by cheeew, on Flickr

There is always one.

Image20200214_100443 by cheeew, on Flickr



Image20200127_200313 by cheeew, on Flickr

I was against the idea of getting any fish for the aquarium as It would only add complication to the maintenance etc, but I noticed the amount of tini silverfish going up. They would get washed into the water when I refilled the aquarium and float around on the water for days.
So I decided to get a few tini fish to hopefully eat them, which they did.

Image20200112_194032 by cheeew, on Flickr

Image20191111_225847 by cheeew, on Flickr

Some seasonal food in March 2020

Image20200307_191359 by cheeew, on Flickr

The ants are going pretty strong at the moment and although I still have never knowingly seen the queen, they are getting bigger in numbers.

Image20200404_142630 by cheeew, on Flickr

This last photo was tonight, I gave them some grapes as they had finished off the leaves and its hard to find excuses to go out during this Covid - 19 lockdown. It made me realise there are alot of ants for my spare room!!

Image20200406_223526 by cheeew, on Flickr

I have loads more photos and videos to share for anyone who is interested, I could also give a lot more detail of the setup and monitoring, again if anyone is interested.

Hope someone enjoyed this as much as I did, going back through all the photos.

Mat.

Cheew
Egg
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:51 pm

Re: Acromyrmex Octospinosus Journal 5 months in

Post by Cheew » Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:52 pm

I wonder if anyone knows why the ants might be doing this

Image20200407_194057 by cheeew, on Flickr

Yesterday, i turned the water heater off and the water temp has dropped from 29C to 22C, I have very slightly increased the ventilation in the nest, just to maintain a tiny amount of airflow. I believe it is impossible to to have humidity without some airflow, also fresh oxygen for the ants.

The ants have started carrying the larvae (not loads but some) on the surface of the fungus and this cheeky chappie has taken one outside the nest and is standing at the door.

I cant think of too many factors here which might cause this behaviour?

Temperature
Humidity
airflow/oxygen
light levels (same as always)
full moon.

Any ideas are appreciated.


Mat.

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