Leaf Cutting Ant Forum

Our new Atta cephalotes colony
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Author:  Jackie62 [ Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Hi Andrew, I've e-mailed you, but things are a little better in some ways, although they are still intent on throwing waste in the water. Still on the dry forage. I returned to work yesterday, but unfortunately the colony hadn't been taken care of in the ways I had hoped for. Forage depleted, the dump tank door not put on properly so they were escaping around it....but then I do have OCD and expect perfection!!!

Author:  Jackie62 [ Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

I should add that the ambient temp of the unit is now 24 degrees C, is that OK? I assume the temp inside the nest chamber is a couple of degrees higher than that....

Author:  Jackie62 [ Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Just watched some amazing behaviour. A soldier has been cutting bits of apple all day. As I watched, she cut some apple and moved away as if to get onto the rope and away. Before she got onto the rope, a large worker came over to the soldier, they had a bit of communication, and the worker took the apple piece from her and away down the rope! The soldier went back to the apple to cut another piece...not seen that before, they are fascinating animals. :)

Author:  Jackie62 [ Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Well, day 3 of NO dumping in the water moat! The colony seem settled now to dump waste in the dump tank....dry forage has helped I think (thanks Andrew) and not giving any leaves for two weeks. we will now continue to give a balance of dry and wet (leaves), as this seems to be what they prefer...the colony are happily cutting privet & rose as I type, but they are also taking red, split lentils and brown rice grains. The moisture inside the nest tank looks to have diminished, although some condensation on the glass of the nest tank, but they need some moisture. Flax seed plants are happily growing in the substrate, will they harvest these plants? I guess in the wild they would have plants growing like that from foraging seeds.

I've left the fluon around the top of the nest tank for the moment.

Anyway, I'm off home for the weekend, and fingers crossed all is well (and clean moat) when I get in on Monday!

Author:  Acromyrmexbob [ Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

All sounds very positive, Jackie, lets hope thats the problem sorted. Long term I think we should look at upgrading the nest tank as Alan suggested to give more space. This would certainly be the next step if they start dumping again. The real test will come if you stop applying the fluon and see what they do!

Author:  Jackie62 [ Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Yes, thanks Andrew. I'm sure we will need to upgrade the nest tank at some point, they have a little way to go yet before the substrate is at the top of the tank. I haven't applied the fluon for a while now and am a little anxious to remove it! I may try it next week and see what they do, and be on my guard with the bottle and paintbrush, just in case!!

Author:  Jackie62 [ Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Dumping in the water has stopped. Mind you, they can't get to it! The dump tank is dry and the waste looks far less wet, so all good. Fluon is still painted on around the top of the nest tank. The fungus gardens have diminished, so we are putting leaves back in from today, although the colony are still taking dry forage every day too. I can still see moisture inside the nest tank, but I think this is more under control now. The top three inches of substrate is bone dry, so I've tipped a small beaker of water in here, although I'm very conscious not to make the nest too wet. The colony are very lively and doing well, although I think we need to get the substrate built up a bit more now.

Water heaters are on 22 - 24 degrees C. The ambient temp inside the unit is around 25 degrees C. no humidity parameters recorded this month as my data logger stopped working! The water temperature when measured, is 25-26 degrees C.

What a learning curve this is for all involved, but well worth it because so many people love the colony, including me!

Author:  Jackie62 [ Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Hello all, long time since I have posted on here, it's been a mentally busy semester at work (uni), but calming down now.

Our Atta cephalotes colony continue to thrive...there have been days where we have been tearing our hair out because the little blighters are dumping in the water (DAILY water changes!). We painted on fluon, they found a way to continue getting over the top and dumping in the moats. They won, for a while, then they stopped the dumping in the moats. At the moment, all is well, they are doing great and behaving themselves. There is plenty of activity and foraging is good. The fungus gardens are looking good and some are very large. Feeding mostly privet at the moment (our uni Estates has planted new privet shrubs for them), and a bunch of bramble leaves goes in the nest tank once per week. They are also sharing their lives with some mites. I have had them ID'd and it turns out they are stored product mites (Astigmata). I have been advised that the ants may eat them (!). These have turned up as we also give the colony dry forage in the form of brown rice, flaked almonds, red, split lentils and brown flax seeds, all well taken, along with fresh apple. The mites don't seem to bother the colony at all. The colony still takes a mixture of dry forage and fresh leaves. We started on the dry forage to balance out the moisture in the nest, while they dumped in the water (the fungus waste was very wet). After two weeks of this, it seemed to do the trick! The dump tank is nice and dry and no more (at the moment) wet fungus material is being dumped in the water or the waste tank! To the point that I may remove the fluon from around the nest tank soon....but in the back of my mind, I'm thinking that they may start the water dumping again! You never know!

Today we decorated the forage area for Christmas, placing gold and red baubles for the colony to investigate. We can place sticks of leaves through the baubles, so it serves a useful purpose AND looks very Christmasy!!


It's nice to post on here again, and hello Andrew!! :)

Author:  HL_Nano [ Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

How do you prevent ants from climbing on fishing lines? :oops: :cry:

Author:  Jackie62 [ Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Our new Atta cephalotes colony

Hi Leonardo, with difficulty! On Andrews advice, I have painted on fluon. This works for a while, but they soon learn to climb over it, although it does put them off trying too often! Other than this, we just let them get on with it. They can't get out of their display unit (well, hardly ever), so we 've learnt to live with the colony wandering in the roof of the unit; they're very determined, particularly when leaves run out and they go searching for more.
What type of set up do you have?

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