Our new Atta cephalotes colony

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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Andyj
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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Andyj » Thu May 24, 2018 4:14 pm

Damp encourages mites but if they are only in the dump and not on the ants they are probably not parasitic so not to worry about. Empty the dump and foraging areas more often to keep numbers down.

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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Jackie62 » Fri May 25, 2018 9:59 am

Andy, these mites are in the top substrate at the top of the nest tower, they are not in the dump tank at the bottom of the nest tower. I used to see mites in our Acro dump tank. I'll keep an eye on things, but the colony are still throwing wet fungus and other waste into the water....I can't see any mites on the ants. Been reading research on this and hope the Acari species is a mutualistic one.

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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Jackie62 » Fri May 25, 2018 10:01 am

Forgot to add that the forage area is changed and cleaned almost every day. The dump tank is hoovered out every couple of days.

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Andyj
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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Andyj » Fri May 25, 2018 9:15 pm

I keep meaning to ask how keepers with huge colonies go about adding the leaves for their colonies. Do they just keep piling branches on top until the area is full or do they take old stuff away each day or when its finished? Even with my meagre amount it takes a good 15 minutes just to separate the ants from the forage each morning. Do they even bother to separate the ants and chuck ants and waste away together?I would imagine there to be all kinds of nasties in the litter and a complete and thorough clean being the only way to insure against mites, thing is plenty of mites are probably useful anyway so providing you haven't noticed any attached to the ants all is well. Parasitic Mites are an ant keepers nightmare that i think can only be controlled by predatory mites which are easily obtained fortunately. Not that i have any experience with them though. :)

BTW i just bought the + version of your Lascar logger on ebay for £40 brand new.. :)

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Acromyrmexbob
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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Acromyrmexbob » Mon May 28, 2018 5:41 pm

I normally advise moving the old forage to the side and introducing the new. After a while the ants tend to leave the old completely and concentrate on the new. Thats when I remove the old branches.

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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Andyj » Tue May 29, 2018 11:50 am

Ah yes good idea or maybe have two forage tanks.

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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Jackie62 » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:16 am

Andyj wrote:I keep meaning to ask how keepers with huge colonies go about adding the leaves for their colonies. Do they just keep piling branches on top until the area is full or do they take old stuff away each day or when its finished? Even with my meagre amount it takes a good 15 minutes just to separate the ants from the forage each morning. Do they even bother to separate the ants and chuck ants and waste away together?I would imagine there to be all kinds of nasties in the litter and a complete and thorough clean being the only way to insure against mites, thing is plenty of mites are probably useful anyway so providing you haven't noticed any attached to the ants all is well. Parasitic Mites are an ant keepers nightmare that i think can only be controlled by predatory mites which are easily obtained fortunately. Not that i have any experience with them though. :)

BTW i just bought the + version of your Lascar logger on ebay for £40 brand new.. :)


Good price for the logger Andy.

I do basically what Andrew said, although the forage is mostly gone after 24 hours, just lots of sticks left! I move any old stuff out, or into the very bottom glass container which is surrounded by water. They seem to like climbing around in the old stuff. I remove this though on a regular basis. Once I've removed the old forage, I wipe the forage platforms with plain water and dry them. It can sometimes be a bit sticky, depending on what they've had (apple does this). I then place fresh forage on the platforms and then arrange their branches of privet and rose, they really love climbing up there! Also, flaked almonds go down extremely well.
When I hoover out the dump tank, I spend time removing all the live ones (most are still alive) from the hoover.

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Andyj
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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Andyj » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:40 pm

Cheers Jackie, well ive recently updated my forage tank and life has got so much easier. Wished i had done this ages ago as it was always a fight trying to put branches in the right place so they didnt get out.
So i got 2 loggers, one like yours and one with probes that only goes to 90 RH and was advertised for 99 RH so no good... I had to drill a hole in the side of the fungus tank to accommodate it. Slightly upsetting the ants is probably the wrong phrase. :)

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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Jackie62 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:08 pm

I've taken Andrew's advice at the moment as we have a serious dumping in the water moat issue. All waste going into it, but in particular, very wet, old fungus material and dead bodies. So, we've painted on fluon, which is working well, although they are extremely clever and find a way out if but a cm of glass isn't painted with it! Changed the forage to a dry type (written about this in my forage diary). The dump tank is perfectly dry, so we are thinking that the colony needs to be made to 're-learn' and dump in the tank. This change suddenly happened after hoovering out the dump tank the very first time. Not sure why they changed! We have high moisture in the nest tank so these changes should hopefully help to reduce it. I've also reduced the water heaters temp down to 22 degrees C. The ambient unit temperature is around 25 degrees C, so the nest temp is obviously higher than this.

Hopefully things will settle down soon and we can then go back to giving leaves. Their forage platforms look a bit like an Indian takeaway at the moment!!

Image

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Acromyrmexbob
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Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Post by Acromyrmexbob » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:33 pm

Hi Jackie, how are things going with the colony. Are things quiet because you are on holiday or because everything is settleing down now?

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