Humble beginnings

So…now that a new blog about ants has been born, why not link that to another exciting thing: the start of some ant colonies!

It’s been a long time since I kept ants. I used to keep many colonies (Lasius niger, Messor barbarus, Crematogaster scutellaris and Aphaenogaster senilis) when I was still studying in the Netherlands. During my Ph.D. in Copenhagen this stopped. Now that I’m doing my post-doctoral research in Helsinki, we go out in the field for about 4 months every year. This year, while sorting through Formica fusca colonies to use in my experiments, I also found some queens of other species.

I decided to keep these, and keep track of them, in order to slowly record the progress of the colonies. I have a Formica fusca queen, as well as a Camponotus herculeanus (Carpenter ant) queen. I caught them 2 weeks ago. Today I checked up on them, and the Camponotus queen has about 10 eggs, while the Formica queen has about 6. Humble beginnings indeed! Hopefully they will hatch successfully! This first stage is extremely important, and also very sensitive, so I will disturb the queens as little as possible, so at first progress updates will be slow.

Camponotus herculeanus queen 21 May 2013

Camponotus herculeanus queen 21 May 2013.
You can see her eggs under her abdomen.

Formica fusca queen 21 May 2013

Formica fusca queen 21 May 2013
Her eggs are above her hindleg

Just so you can see what the workers look like once the colony (hopefully) gets started:

Formica fusca worker close-up

Formica fusca worker close-up

Camponotus herculeanus worker

Camponotus herculeanus worker

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