I currently have two ant colonies:
Obtained: 8 March 2009
This colony consisted of about 30 workers Lasius niger (the original host colony), one Lasius umbratus queen, a small amount of brood, and no Lasius umbratus workers.
Lasius umbratus start their colonies when a newly mated queen will enter into an established Lasius niger colony and make herself at home. Somehow she convinces the Lasius niger workers to turn on their own queen who then kill her, accepting the new Lasius umbratus queen as their own. The umbratus queen will then start to lay eggs producing umbratus workers which the niger workers raise as if they were their own. Eventually the niger workers die out through natural causes leaving a 100% umbratus colony. When I received this colony it was in the very early stages of takeover, though the niger colony itself was only very small.
3 August 2014
I have just returned home from 6 months out of the country. Before I went the colony consist of about 100 workers, one queen and loads of brood. Now the brood numbers have increased dramatically, though the colony population size is still much the same. During the four and one half years I have had this colony their growth has been very slow due to the fact I spend so much time away from home that they do not get the right amount of food. Hopefully over the next few years I will be at home a lot more and be able to get this colony to grow to its true potential. I am home for a good period of time I will be able to give them plenty of food which will cause their colony, hopefully, to flourish.
8 August 2014
This colony has been so active since I got home and started feeding them proper amounts of food, giving them; wax worms, flies, crickets and fruit beetle larvae, which are quite large – they loved that!
There are a huge amount of brood; eggs, larvae, and cocoons scattered throughout the nest. I can’t see the queen but she often hides herself away, but I will keep checking though. There is a new batch of eggs so I assume she is still doing well.
Obtained: 22 May 2013
This colony consisted of about 6-10 small workers, no brood and one fertile queen. I placed them into my glass ant farm and let them do their stuff.
3 August 2014
I have just returned home from 6 months out of the country. Before I went the colony had increased in size a little but not by much, and their nest consisted of one small chamber. However, when I got back home yesterday I checked their nest, not expecting to see much, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the colony had grown in size to about 50-70 workers, loads of brood, and the queen still reigns. This colony looks promising. I gave them a piece of wax worm, their first insect protein type food for 6 months, and they swarmed all over it. Now I am home for a good period of time I will be able to give them plenty of food which will cause their colony, hopefully, to flourish.
8 August 2014
This colony still doesn’t forage in huge numbers by they definitely are getting busier. I gave them some crickets, flies, wax worm and a large fruit beetle grub, all of which they eat from. I saw the queen yesterday; very photophobic but good to see her alive and well.