Summer Activities

My ant colonies have been very active so far this summer. There has been lots of foraging, but not much in the way of nest expansion.

Lasius umbratus

Despite the presence of the queen, the population size continues to decrease. A few years ago the nesting boxes were full almost to the brim with worker ants and brood. Now it is just a shadow of its former glory. The queen, who is at least 12 years old is still present and laying eggs. I obtained her from Antstore in April 2009, but she probably came from the 2008, or earlier, mating flights.

The colony has spread itself over the old nesting box, and the new one. When I look into the old nesting box I still see probably 100 ants and a number of small piles of brood. In the newer nesting box (added last year, nest excavated but, until now not occupied), there are now a small number of ants and brood present. If all the ants and brood from the two nesting boxes were put together, I am sure it would appear to be more numerous than they currently appear. There is still a lot of foraging outside the nest, and when I put food into the foraging tank a lot of ants feed. I am not sure which of the two nesting boxes the queen currently resides.

The old nest is looking very tatty and dilapidated now. I am guessing that they are reluctant to abandon it. The soil within the old nesting box has not been dampened by me for the past year in the hope that the conditions will become unfavourable, and that they will move out. So far this has only been partially successful.

Old Lasius umbratus nest
The older of the two Lasius umbratus nesting boxes. This one looking very tatty now.
Old Lasis umbratus nesting box
The old Lasius umbratus nesting box – still occupied – seen from a different angle
New Lasius umbratus nesting box
The newest of the Lasius umbratus nesting boxes – apologies for the reflections.
Egg chamber in the new Lasius umbratus nesting box.
In the new Lasius umbratus nest box you can see some brood.

Myrmica rubra

This colony has had its most active year so far, with a lot of activity in the foraging tank.  They seem forever hungry, and thirsty, even though plenty of food and fresh water is provided.

Oddly enough there have been no flying ants produced this year, when normally this is the only colony to have fliers within it.  Still, the brood chamber is very full, at least in comparison to the number of brood normally present. 

Myrmica rubra brood chamber
One of the brood chambers in the Myrmica rubra nest

Lasius niger

Not very much to write about this colony. They have completely moved into the new nesting box, allowing mw to remove the old test tube that they once resided in. Though they are nesting in the new box, I can not see any of their tunnels or chambers. They have dug in tight against the side of the nesting box so that no nest can be seen. The only evidence of their living in there is the excavated soil being dumped in the tubing connecting the nesting box and the foraging box. The presence of foraging ants also being a indicator.

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