I am keeping this journal for several reasons. They are as follows.
1. It is one of the few Pogonomyrmex Badius journals on this forum. The information in this journal may be beneficial to those who frequent here and for those that try to raise P. Badius in the future.
2. I will need the advice and the support of this forum as I have read that it is difficult to raise Pogonomyrmex AND I am not an experienced ant caretaker.
I have been going out everyday since the 5th of June to look for P. Badius queens. It had rained heavily in Orlando the last few days and the forecast, for pretty much the whole month, was that it would be hot and humid (80s to 90s F), with rain just about everyday or every other day in short spurts. Perfect weather for P. Badius "mating balls." All colonies I have visited since the 5th have had both female and male alates running in and out or sunning themselves at the opening of the nest.
Anyway, in short, I have currently found several fertile queens and put all of them in test tube setups. All were found in the mid afternoon (3 to 5 pm) and were all found digging their claustral chambers before capture. They are being kept at 76 to 80 F.
Queen #1 (Fussy)
Queen #1 (Fussy) - Caught Jun 11th. This one wouldn't calm down until I put her in darkness for a few days. I then slowly got her accustom to natural light, and then my dim room lamp. Sorry for the dim pictures. I am not comfortable turning on all my lights for her as I do not know how she will handle it. But as you can see, she has been comfortable so far as to lay a small clutch of eggs. Also, I put enough sand/dirt in her test tube for her to dig a few tunnels. The yellow circles are her entrances/exits. She has been pretty active. She has been calmly digging around her test tube inbetween the time she tends her eggs.
She also got really fussy when I placed a heating pad under the shoebox her test tube was placed in. The temp rose to about 90 F. She started to run amok and bite at the cotton used to keep the water reservoir at bay. She was taking large, long bites out of the water filled cotton. I immediately disconnected the heating pad after that. Maybe she thought it was too hot and was trying to cool down.
It makes me curious about what the temp is in P. Badius natural founding chambers. It has to be relatively cool as they are out of the sun and the sands around Orlando are all pretty much moist from all the recent rain. I decided to not use the heating pad until they have reached the point in which I can move them into a formicarium. I am currently keeping the temp at an average of 78 F with a range of 76 to 80 F.
Queen #2 (Bitey)
Queen #2 (Bitey) - Caught Jun 13th. Not much to say about this one. She did get into a fight with Queen #3 on the way back from capture, of which she was always the aggressor. She is calm in her test tube now, and has been pretty inactive. Although I think I spy a single egg in the dark corner of her test tube where she is standing guard. NOT the white blob to her left, but the little white blob to her right. I would take better pictures but I'm afraid to brighten the lights or disturb either of these queens at the moment.
Queen #3 (Flatty - Deceased) - Caught June 13th. This ones gaster was slightly dented when I found her. It could be that I damaged her slightly when I dug her out of her founding chamber. She also got into a fight with Bitey on the way back home, as I only had one jar to put them both in. I was able to break of the fight most of the time on the way back, but sometimes Bitey just didn't let go. They were separated as soon as I got home. UPDATE - This little one did not make it through the night. Whether due to her injuries from me or from Bitey, or something else, she has passed on.