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Posted by Lester G. Milroy III on June 28, 2002 at 19:03:08:
In Reply to: How to care for my Harvester Ant Queen's posted by D Wallingford on June 28, 2002 at 18:38:45:
: Good Day.
: I live on 11 acres in the hill country of Texas. I miss seeing our native Horned toads like I did when I was young. We are blessed to have three very large Harvester Ant Mounds on our land. I have been keeping the fire ants at bay within 200 feet of each mound, and have been pleased to see the little fellows busy reproducing. Whitch brings me to my question. Today, while doing my daily round of the mounds, I was amazed to see over 50 winged queen's climing to the tops of the surrounding grass twigs and flying off to start new colonies. I now have two queens to use to start a mound I can place in an area that we can watch from our porch.
: I need a it of information to give these ladies a good start. Once they have a good healthy population, I will attempt to tranplant them into the wild.
: 1. How should I house them?
: 2. What should I feed them?
: 3. Will two queens cooperate in one "location?
: I have built a "ant farm" out of an old window frame, but have not moved the queens into yet.
: Any professional, or experianced assistance will be followed to the letter. (I am a middle aged Engineer, and will ultimatly try to reintroduce Horned Toads to our little piece of heaven)
: Thank you in advance.
: D Wallingford
: Hello D. Wallingford. The first thing you have to realize is that the winged "princesses" have to leave the nest and be met in the air by their male counterparts. If you capture the "princesses" prior to their courtship fight, you basically only have winged ants and nothing more. The courtship flights may take them 100s of yards, if not miles, away from their original nest. Two "queens" from the same nest will not cooperate in establishing nests. It is competition and survival of the fitest. If you have a fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, problem, your ant nests that are already in place do not need more competition at this point. Establishing an ant colony is extremely difficult. The ants themselves are very picky as to where they establish a nest. The survivability of the "princesses" is another matter in itself. Typically, 1 in 50 may actually survive to establish an active colony. The odds are greater against a colony lasting past two years. This also depends on the ant species. The ants you have are probably Pogonomyrmex barbatus or Pogonomyrmex maricopa. I have no recommendations other than to protect the nests you already have from the Fire ants. Once you are past that problem, the next season after ample rain, you may see an increase in ant populations. If you want to try to reintroduce the horned lizard to the area, the fire ant problem must be cleared. You can then contact Texas Parks and Wildlife for assistance with a possible reintroduction project. Reintroduction of the horned lizards is another situation. Lester G. Milroy III