I know you’ve been dying to know how Eleanor is doing while I’ve been Saint-Simoning with formicarum building. Well, she has been preparing for a right wind of winter by settling down and reading the classics. I found her curled up in the deepest part of her lucubrium with an original edition of Das Kapital and a cup of tea. Now, I know that she does that during unfavorable political climate but I also know how hard the political landscape in antworld is affected by temperature so I got out at terrarium heating mat and hooked it up. So instead of a cold, heartless right wing autumn of the soul she is experiencing a balming twenty five degrees of Communism summer. She is more active building her cadre, cleaning her eggs and generally taking care of her brood. Any movement needs these times of introspection and study and normally ants do this during the cold hard winter. This is quite normal but I want her to have a small nanitic cadre before hibernation. I don’t want her starting up spring party building with no organisation.
So, I found a small picture frame for next to nothing. This is the result:
The formicarium is about right for a first founding chamber, I think. One lesson is that I found out that cooking oil is a much better mould release than soap water. This formicarium won’t open up for cleaning but the entrance is quite large and I think I’ll be able to clean it when I have to.
Since this is an old frame the glass is slightly domed. I wonder if this will help viewing the tiny ants.
So we need a formicarium. It’simportant to get the right look and feel för the budding commune. What’s the ultimate commune architecture?
Concrete. Lots of concrete!
I got a cheap photo frame and some clay. The idea is that the Lasius Flavius especially is a small and shy species I thought I would make her a small cave for her first home but also use the entire glas plate. So I have a small room and a corridor at the bottom of the formicarium. There is a an exit to the out world at one end and another that will be blocked to start with but that can easily be connected to the rest of the rooms with a short tube. There is also a water reservoir at the bottom left side. I dusted the area with crushed expanded clay to try to increase the moisture in that corner.
This is he negative, that is the clay mould on glass. It was surprisingly easy to separate the mould after the concrete hardened.You can see how I tried to shape the tunnels into a triangle cross section so that there is a flatish floor and a sloping roof.
I’m thinking, this is a nice first try. I’m not sure if I’ll use it or if I’ll redo it from scratch. After all, she wont have a cadre large enough for some months.
So I’ve constructed a small out world. I found an old iPod nano case. It’s made from clear acrilic and it’s easy to cut and drill. A few holes and some concrete, two small decorations and it’s done.
I use concrete as a floor because I want a built up surface to place my decorations on but I don’t want her to start a burrow. The decorations are a small aquarium plant and a Star Destroyer (just to give a sence of scale and importace). In the future I’ll remake the box into a test tube dockingstation but the time when I need to dock multiple watering tubes and feeding tubes is a couple of years away.
That ‘almost’ is the tricky part. Ants are small and airholes are big. That is why so many antkeeping pics, tips and tricks, include cotton balls. A cotton ball is like an impenetrable forrest of tiny fibers but it still lets a tiny trickle of air through. Since I’m new to this I try not to over consume and buy loads and loads of expensive formicanrias and out worlds. (Beware of crappy pictures below.) I’ve been experimenting with airholes in my up coming mini out world. First i stretched a rubbery plastik over the air intake and poked it with a needle. I wasn’t very pleased with the result so I decided to, instead, drill holes in clear acrylic. This could have been so much better looking but I’m fairly happy with the result.
0,8mm drill and aquaium grade silicone sealant.