Before you start reading this post, make sure you have checked the most recent post on this colony (https://ants853.com/2020/01/27/weaver-ants-first-120-days/)
January 31st 2020
Friday is finally here and its time to update you all on this beautiful weaver ant colony! They still continue on the same nest, their 4th weaved nest. The 3rd is still present but seems to be empty. I can only see one shadow inside, on the bottom, most probably from a dead roach.
The temperatures dropped considerably this week. The lowest my ant room thermometer recorded was 16.9C at night. Normally is stays around 18.5 and 19.2C during the day.
I am not planning on using any type of heart source unless temperatures drop below 14C. These ants are widespread all across Asia, and in China, there are distributed mainly on the South but also a bit further up North where the winter is much colder, so I am expecting the ants to be able to withstand these temperatures.
Even with the drop in temperature, I have seen the ants continue to forage to their honey water dish. I have continued to feed them baby roaches every other day. They continue to accept them readily, but sometimes instead of bringing the roach inside the nest, they will drink some juices and then drop the roach body into the ground. Not sure what it means, maybe the roach is too large for the entrance, or maybe they know the amount of larvae doesn’t justify bringing it inside… not sure.
I think I ended up not reporting this on the video and on the previous post, but in many instances I found in the lemon tree branches some silk threads, signs of a jumping spider presence! SCARY!! For quite some time, I have been looking around to see if I could find the spider, I honestly didn’t want to loose any workers to the spider, and if they were sensing the presence of the spider, that would also surely inhibit their foraging, which could also be a reason why they were so confined?
Finally on January 29th 2020 I found the evil spider!! She was lurking on the bottom, around the pot.
After few attempts I managed to catch the evil spider. Sorry girl, I can’t let you go around eating my beautiful ants! I feel more relaxed now, and just hope no more spiders decide to make the tree their home. I have a few house spiders on my ant shelves racks, but they normally don’t move out, so hope all keeps that way.
But this spider wasn’t the only mystery resident I found on the tree! There are more, yes plural!
Ants!! More ants! Isn’t this great?! An arboreal species and now a terrestrial one, what a great combination! And I swear I didn’t put them there! Like I wrote on my first post, I had even asked the plant shop guy if he was using any chemicals, or if there were ants on the pot, which he said no way! Well, that turned out to be quite false didn’t it Mr.NoWay 😀
Quite some time ago, I had seen some tiny Pheidole worker going up the tree stalk, and decided to see if there was a colony living on the potting soil, so I brushed the dead leaves aside and dropped a roach, and surprise surprise! Quite a good amount of ants came out! I suspect its Pheidole parva because of their size. I have been feeding them (not so regularly as the weaver ants) roaches and a drop of honey on the dead leaves. One thing I cannot avoid, and to be honest don’t think too much of it, is the tree watering. Well I have to dump water on the soil, I did it many times already and the Pheidole seem to keep doing well nonetheless. They are quite hardy ants!
But the alien invaders don’t end up here! Today I got the biggest unexpected surprise of them all! I kid you not, as I was writing this post, and looking at the tree thinking of how I would structure the post, I saw for the first time ever two weaver ant workers coming down near the bottom, and I thought, that’s interesting! And took a photo to put it on the post.
Then I took my ruler out to measure the distance, and it showed around 40 cm distance in the vertical from the nest, which is quite significant, since they did 30 cm horizontally only.
And then when I looked at where those two were station I saw a white ball. I initially thought it was the jumping’s spider egg sack, but the workers on top of it, so it couldn’t be otherwise I think they would get caught.
It a Citrus Tree Mealybug or an Scale Insect of some sort. And although my camera couldn’t pick it up, I saw a droplet of liquid in one of the workers mandibles.
I tried to look for more but it seems its the only one. I have never seen the ants come down, but now that they seem to have discovered this mealybug, they are keeping always close-by, one is always on top of it, bashing her antennae on it. Other workers are seen going up and down the branches.
I shall name it Anthony the Mealybug. I googled mealybug parthenogenesis, and it seems some species are capable of doing it, as well as scale insects, so although they are citrus trees parasites, I would love to have a small population of these insects on my tree, so that I could witness the farming and milking of these insects by the weaver ants. Hope this won’t turn against me in the future. But even if they grow out of hand, I am confident I would be able to pluck them off, and lower the populations. Conspiracy theories 😀 … maybe I should go back to the plant shop and see if I can find more there, and pluck a few for myself 😀 What do you think?!
Well, this is all for this week’s updates! It was quite unexpected to be honest with all of you, I never imagined I would have so much happening this week ! Thank you for taking the time to read the posts, and leave me a comment if you want, and see you next week!