The Lasius niger colony continues to grow, with 18-20 worker ants now present. As I type this there are two new callow workers motionless in the test tube; they were born within the past hour. The queen is looking healthy and I can see the pale elastic membrane between her abdominal plates. This means that either her crop (“dry stomach”) is full, or that she has a batch of eggs ready to lay. It could mean both. Whichever it is, she is looking well.
I am feeding them pieces of freshly killed cockroach, with some protein jelly and a tiny sliver of fruit (orange). I am giving them plenty of food so that the queen receives a good supply of protein, which she needs to lay lots of eggs. The larvae too will require protein to develop well.
I have seen a couple of workers exploring the foraging box, but as yet none have ventured so far as discovering the port tubing leading to the nesting box. I could just attach the test tube directly to the port, but I would like them to find it for themselves.
The Myrmica rubra and Lasius umbratus colonies are also doing well. I am giving them plenty of food to feed their larvae and to encourage lots of egg-laying by their respective queens. I would particularly like the rubra colony to increase in size. There were some males and at least one winged queen in the rubra colony this summer, and I was hoping they would mate so that an additional egg-laying queen would be present. Obviously, ants prefer to mate with ants from other colonies so as to get a good mix of genes spread about, but I did read something that Dr M.V Brian in which he witnessed a captive rubra colony having winged males and females. One day the males were killed off and there were additional egg-laying queens present. His conclusion was that the males and queens had mated within the nests. I am not sure whether ants are affected by inter-breeding gene problems, but I am sure that mating with ants from other colonies is preferable. The queens and males that were in the nest have since disappeared. I have not seen them flying about in the Ant room, so I can only assume they have been disposed of.