Approximately eight weeks ago I captured a newly mated Lasius niger queen from this year’s mating flights. I had not intended to capture any queens this year, but I was in my garden and saw this de-winged queen running about where I knew there to be an established colony of ants. Not wanting her to be caught by foraging workers, I picked her up and placed her in a spare test tube I had. She settled in very quickly, and within a few days had laid some eggs. I am glad I did this, as a few weeks later my only Lasius niger colony mysteriously died out in its entirety overnight!
Fast forward to today, some eight weeks later, and her first workers have emerged from their cocoons. I could see 4 workers. One was black, indicating that it was somewhere between 24-48 hours old. The other three have varying degrees of pale grey in their colour, meaning that they are less than 24 hours old. When an adult ant emerges from the cocoon (or pupae, according to species), they are pale and have soft exoskeletons. Over the course of 24-48 hours their exoskeleton hardens, and their colouration becomes like that of the older workers.
Two days ago, I ordered a new ant farm set up, which should arrive within the next 3-5 days. This will be their new home. Once it arrives, I intend to create a downloadable pdf guide on how to set up an ant farm, and how to place the ants in it. I also hope to do a video version of the guide that I can out onto my YouTube channel.