Moving Day

February 13, 2010

After their 15 (more like 20) minutes in the fridge, I was ready to transfer the lady ants into their new home.

Most of them were quite lethargic from the cold, but one was raring to go and I barely got the tube over the habitat in time.  It was actually quite difficult to pull open the cap to the tube and I think I warmed them up a bit with my hands.

Here’s the first shot of the ant farm with ants.  They’re all in kind of a pile in the middle.

Welcome Home, Ants

The water droplets are there because one of the preliminary steps to setting up the ant farm is watering down the “tunneling sand” (I’m pretty sure the tunneling sand is actually just broken down perlite).  The ants are pretty dazed and confused.

For the first hour or so, most of the ants tried to find a way out of the habitat.  They can climb the farm structures pretty well, but have some trouble on the clear plastic sides.  They fell a lot.  One or two did make it to the top before falling though, so I will be wary of always replacing the caps at the top very carefully.

Aside from looking for escape, they went right for the water droplets.  Some spent what seemed to me to be alarming amounts of time with their heads stuck right into the droplets.  I was starting to think that perhaps they preferred suicide to a life of confinement, but what I am coming to realize is that ants are strange creatures, and I can’t judge their behavior by mammalian standards.

I suppose with ant life must invariably come ant death.  The AWM (Ant Watcher’s Manual) points out that they ship more than enough ants, so if one or two die in transit, or of old age, there will still be enough.  Apparently each individual ant will be busier if there are less ants overall to do the work.  There was one clearly dead ant in the tube and a couple more that seemed unwell compared to the others (not moving, or barely moving).  The only way to tell for sure, though, is when they are curled up completely into a ball.  My limited ant watching experience seems to be that the living ants actually curl the dead ants into ball shapes.  This particular behavior is not discussed in the AWM.

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