Myrm’s Ant Colonies Journal – 8 Oct 19

Welcome to another Myrm’s Ant Colonies Journal update.

In my previous journal update, I informed you that my four-year-old “Magenta” Colony of Lasius niger suddenly died out, during the night. It was a complete mystery to me then, and it remains so now. Well, I had another, similar, scare a few days ago.

Myrmica rubra

I had provided my Myrmica rubra colony with a brand-new foraging tank. They had been using a foraging tank from one of the smaller sized Starter Kits. I felt that it was just too small for them, and as it needed a good clean out, I decided to exchange old for new. Last week I checked on my ants, which is the first thing I tend to do each morning, and I noticed many dead rubra worker ants laying at one end of the new tank. I picked them all up individually, counting as I did so. 61 dead ants!

As you can imagine, I was quite worried. Would this colony end up like the Magenta Colony, and die out suddenly, overnight? Well, fortunately, it seems my fears were not to come to fruition. There were two dead workers the following morning, but there have been none since. I was speculating as to the cause of this. Was this incident linked with the unexpected demise of the Magenta Colony? Was it a coincidence? If it was, what was the causative link? I thought this would be an interesting thing to discuss in this ant colony blog.

Natural life cycle

Therefore, I started to contemplate the natural cycle of ant generations. The queen ant tends to lay eggs in batches. She doesn’t just lay one or two eggs one day, then a few more several months later. No. The queen lays eggs as a job lot. This does have repercussions. The eggs are laid in batches, therefore that means the brood develops, and workers are born, in a likewise manner.

As a result of this, it’s completely plausible that the same generation will die out in quick succession. The same thing happens in humans, though because our life span is so much greater than that of the ant, the gap between people of the same generation dying is not so remarkable. Oh, what a depressing subject for this ant colony blog. However, because the ant lives a fraction of the span we do, it is far more noticeable. There are still a healthy number of ants in the colony, including winged males, and, of course, the parent queen. So, I am not too concerned. However, I will be keeping a close watch. Despite this, the rubras seem to be happy in their new tank.

Lasius niger

The Lasius niger colony is still doing well. No more workers have emerged yet, but on looking in the test tube, I can see a small number of cocoons, and a respectable pile of larvae. You can see the larvae in my latest video. As I have indicated just now, the niger colony is still in the test tube. They have not discovered the tube leading to the nesting box yet, but as their number grows, so they will explore further, and eventually will come across it. I wait to report their finding it in this ant colony blog.

myrms ant colonies journal
Lasius niger and larvae

Lasius umbratus

It was not only the Myrmica rubra colony that received a new foraging tank. My Lasius umbratus have too. Well, to be more accurate, they have a clean tank. The ants’ current tank had not been cleaned since last winter, and it was getting very messy. So, I decided to remedy that. It took a while to complete as many ants were foraging in amongst the sand, and I had to sift them out. But eventually I completed the cleaning, and I put clean soil in.

Thank you for reading my ant colony blog. I intend to upload updates every Monday. Yes, sorry, this one is late. I have been working hard on the behind-the-scenes stuff with the website. It has been hard work, and I have been frustrated by it several times.

Myrm’s Ant Colonies Journal – weekly updates about my captive ant colonies.

2 thoughts on “Myrm’s Ant Colonies Journal – 8 Oct 19”

  1. Very interesting read as always Myrm. I was worried for you when you mentioned the 60+ dead rubras. But you have processed a very reasonable explanation, and it’s great theres still a healthy amount!

    Well done with the website. Just reading these updates I am so surprised how much work goes into them!

    1. Hi JonnyF.

      Yes, I am hoping my reasoning on the rubra dilemma is more than simply conjecture.

      Thank you for your support, it is appreciated.

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