It’s Officially Spring! – Colonies Update – 7 April 2020

Hello everybody, I hope you are all doing well despite the current situation we all currently find ourselves in.  Well, it’s officially Spring in my eyes.  Yes, I know the official date this year was 20 March, however, for me, it’s not officially Spring until the wild ants in my garden are awake and foraging.  Yesterday I threw an apple core onto the soil of my garden in the hope it would provide some sustenance for any ants that might be out and about.  This morning I checked on the apple core and saw this

it's officially spring_niger
It’s officially Spring! Lasius niger workers from my neighbour’s garden, find an apple core in my own garden.

Yay!  It’s officially Spring!

There has also been some increase of activity in my own captive colonies.

Lasius niger.

A few of the Lasius niger workers have been eating from a large fly I put into their tank yesterday.  I can still see about 20 workers, some larvae and, of course, the queen.  No increase in population size as yet, but on the bright side, no decrease either.  It seems all the workers have survived the winter.

Myrmica rubra

The Myrmica rubra have been more active than the Lasius niger.  I rarely saw these ants foraging during the winter months, yet when I put food in their tank there would be ants on it within 30 to 60 minutes.   There is brood in the nest and the queen looks healthy.

it's officially spring! rubra
Some of my Myrmica rubra workers drinking honey water

Lasius umbratus

As usual these have been the most active of my ant colonies, but then again, they are a much older and more populous colony than the other two.  Saying that, though, there has been yet another sharp decrease in the number of ants in this colony.  I can see some callows (newborn ants), and a small number of brood present, but I am under the impression that the queen is losing her egg-laying prolificy (is that a word?) in these, her twilight years.  It would not surprise me if this colony only lasts another couple of years. She is almost 12 years old.

They STILL have not moved into the new nesting box that I proved them with last year. All that work they have done over the past few months, digging tunnels and chambers. I can see one or two ants moving about in it, but when will they move in? Come on umbies, it’s officially spring, start acting like UK ants in Spring! Get busy!

it's officially spring! - umbratus
My Lasius umbratus feeding on some honey water
Lasius niger in my garden eating an apple core

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