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  • stevecowles

Calming unsettled queen ants

I posted recently about the new queen ants I have captured, several of them seem to have had trouble settling in and have been very agitated and unsettled. How do I know this? They have been marching from one end of their test tubes repeatedly and pulling at the cotton wool plugs in an attempt to escape. What they have not been doing is laying eggs.

I'm planning to keep most of them in the tubes until next spring when they emerge from hibernation, only problems with their current environments may prevent this. For this reason, I've used the longer 150mm tubes and believe that is the case of their unrest.

Ants are not keen on big open spaces and would far rather live cramped together (within reason) and I believe the space they have is simply overwhelming them and stopping them from feeling safe.

In an attempt to overcome this, I've created some dividers which can easily be removed at a later date when they develop into fledgling colonies. I've done this with a paper drinking straw and some cotton wool as shown in the photo. The straw has been cut into small sections and placed on the base of the tube and held in place by cotton wool, the 'partition' can then be carefully pushed into place with the bottom of a pair of tweezers and this creates two smaller chambers although the queen can travel between the two if she wishes.

I did this for several of them a few days ago, the tubes were then placed in a quiet location with the chamber furthest from the top being in the dark. The effect was immediate. The queens scuttled in and, apart from a couple of trips out for a look (like the Lasium Flavus queen in the photo), they have stayed where I want them to be and look much happier, I'm expecting eggs to be produced very soon and have left a few tubes as they were to act as a 'control group' in this experiment.

I will now leave them undisturbed for as long as I can.

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