[intro] Oh boy! AC family, I have some news. The Golden Empire, our yellow crazy ant colony, is still battling with mites! We’ve tried the lemon therapy, and after four weeks The mites are still around! and so, we are ready to enter our next phase To help our Golden Empire here win their war against the hungry parasites! Introducing… Hacienda Del Dorado The Golden Estate After we uploaded our video four weeks ago, I was able to get in touch with some experts on ant mite relationships These biologists, all said the population of mites is unatural and endangers the colony, so, the ants must be moved out of their set up ASAP so I instantly fled to Twitter and asked you guys what new home we should give our Golden Empire and by 40% margin You guys chose for them to move into a big planted terrarium. You won’t want to miss all this crazy ant action ahead, So keep watching until the end AC Family, let’s caravan together into these new lush territories As we continue forward in this golden empire saga with mites In this episode of the AntsCanada ant channel! *whisper* Please subscribe to my videos, And hit the bell icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Enjoy! These four weeks have truly been an eye opener For those of you who mite be new no pun intended Our Golden empire here, our Yellow Crazy Ant colony has been struggling with a frightening mite infestation The mites swarm in their setup, they swarm in their garbage, and they cover the ant’s bodies. These foreign invaders appeared one day, and we had so many questions about if they were harmful, and where they came from. We tried using lemons to battle the mites but they have proved ineffective over four weeks. However, thankfully, I was able to get it touch with Dr. Kaitlin U. Campbell, from UNC, Pembroke, North Carolina, A mite biologist. Okay, so here’s the lowdown on these mites. These mites are Astigmatid mites, probably in the family Acaridae or Histiostomatidae. Turns out these Astigmatid mites have interesting life cycles. They are free living, and highly mobile as Larvae, Protomyphs, Tritonymphs and Adults but get this: They have a special life stage, between Protonymph and Tritonymph, called the deudonymph stage. The mites at this deudonymph stage, are phoretic on other Arthropods, which means they hitch rides on other insects and such and look highly compact and tear-drop shaped. These Deudonymphs are what we see on the bodies of our Golden Empire. Dr. Campbell said she doesn’t think these phoretic mites are directly harming our ants of the Golden Empire because these types of Astigmatid mites, as far as their records show, are Fungivores, Bacteriavores and Scavengers. Oh, what a relief, right guys? Additionally, get this: these deudonymph mites riding the ants don’t even have mouths or anuses at this life stage! They are specially designed , at this stage, to simply ride the ants, and disperse to a new area. So why did these mites, which normally eat ants garbage or stuff caused by our ants’ garbage decide to enter this deudonymph stage in the first place? (who knows?) and attach to the ants? Well, Dr. Campbell said the mites entered this, deudonymph dispersal stage, due to enviromental cues. *Pause* Either related to the host, our ants, or their hosts’ habitat our ant setup here. She said that often one sees unhealthy mite loads arise when the host is suffering already from other issues, or if the environment suddenly experiences drastic droughts, over-watering, or changes in food resources. Meaning either too much food, or too little. Wow, that made for a lot of possible circumstances. It means that the mites somehow entered our setup, and decided to enter this ant body attachment phase because either our ants were somehow weakened or sick, or because our setup was too dry, and note we do not water our AC out world, in order to keep the ants nesting in the hybrid nest, Or our setup was too moist. And note, our hybrid nest is moistened every few weeks. Or there was either too much, or too little food My goodness, all such great info but so many more questions. It would of be really hard to tell what really caused these mites to become ANT body mites These… deudonymphs.. But what this DID tell us.. was that the typical setup that works for most standard ants, (meaning the dry outworld/moist nest arrangement of most ant keepers) was NOT working out for our Golden Empire. Now I was also able to get in touch with Raymond Mendez, an EXPERT in keeping captive ant colonies, and designer of some of the world’s GREATEST museum ant displays he said that in the wild, many ants colonies just.. simply move when mites appear From harvester ants to tree ants, colonies move out when these natural cleanup crews show up. He pointed out that if one goes and
digs up abandoned ant nests, or cuts into wood of wood-boring species, one will often find midden piles full of mites
and other predators or parasites. This ability to move, however, is not available
to captive colonies. So ants kept in captivity just have to live with whatever conditions the ant-keeper provides for them and the mites. So what this meant, then, was that our Golden Empire and the mites can actually co-exist! But they require the space to be able to migrate accordingly. Our ants needed the ability to move away when the mites came to eat their garbage. And mites needed the opportunity to find their garbage, stay around it, but at the same time have conditions consistent enough, hydration- and food-wise, so that they don’t enter this bothersome deutonymph stage and attach themselves to our ants. So the next step was to offer our Golden Empire a setup which allowed this movement and migration behaviour away from the mite activity. On our Twitter page, we set up a poll and among all the choices, you guys chose for the ants to move into a huge planted terrarium. By the way, if you guys aren’t following us on Twitter, please do follow our official Twitter account so we can stay connected during times like this where I need real-time feedback between video uploads. So a huge planted terrarium it was. And it was going to be called
Hacienda Del Dorado: The Golden Estate. And an estate it certainly was going to be. I went out and bought a massive 75-gallon tank and, using a variety of different plants, soil media, rocks, and driftwood. I was able to create our new home for the Golden Empire. The construction process took about an hour. The new Hacienda del Dorado, with its new semi-tropical habitat, was now ready for our Golden Empire. AC family, let’s take a tour, shall we? Here you will see air plants, Tillandsias, which are great plants because they don’t require soil. They are called air plants because they absorb water from the moisture in the air, and they are epiphytic, which means they attach to branches of trees. Here you’ll see beautiful bonsai trees,
which give the ants a nice area to climb, and they’re actually blossoming! Perhaps the ants will enjoy some nectar. I have also included a small bush of the most beautiful blue fern. I love ferns for terrariums because they require low light levels and grow well in tanks. Same as this ficus plant, which is great for vining. Let’s take a look at my favourite part of our Hacienda del Dorado: the driftwood. We have three large ornate pieces of driftwood which add dimension to the territories. The one of utmost significance is this piece,
which I anticipate the Golden Empire
will choose to inhabit. I chose this driftwood piece because it offered an amazing cavity underneath it, as well as some good holes for entrances. Despite this, the Hacienda del Dorado offered many ideal locations where the ants could nest, including under rocks, around the plants, and inside or around the various driftwood pieces. With plants in the setup, the lighting needed to be good. We fixated two full-spectrum fluorescent tubes as well as four spot lamps for sunning spots over our plants. It made for a very attractive display of the new territories. Now here is why I really felt this Hacienda del Dorado was the best new home for the ants. First, the amount of space was perfect to allow for this “astigmati-regulation”. Let’s just invent that term for now. The ants could establish a nest somewhere in this terrarium, and then simply move to another area when the mites decide to swarm their garbage. Or the ants had much more space to create a garbage pile far away from their nest, and isolate the mite population in that area. Second, this setup also offered the ants with digging medium, which meant the Golden Empire now had the freedom to bury their garbage and further isolate the mites. Third, with digging medium and plants present, we didn’t have to worry about the environment being too dry or too wet. It could stay constant, and hopefully keep our astigmatid mites from becoming deutonymphs and attaching to our ants’ bodies. Theoretically, the deutonymphs attaching to our ants now will enter with the ants into the Hacienda del Dorado, be exposed to the new ideal environment, and develop into adult mites, thereby detaching themselves from our ants’ bodies.
Let’s hope this happens. So here we go, AC family. Here was the plan: First, I had to apply our ant barrier.
Luckily, this tank was created with an upside-down lip like our AC outworlds, which was perfect for applying our baby powder and rubbing alcohol mix. I was going to detach this tube here. Remember our control tube, which had no lemons in it? Well, it was the most infested part of the Golden Empire’s territory. So I intended it to be as far from our new portal into the Hacienda del Dorado as possible. I assumed the mobile non-deutonymph mites weren’t as quickly-moving as our ants. So with this tube being the furthest section from the Hacienda del Dorado, the least amount of mites would migrate into the new home. Now attaching to the nest would be this brand-new tube, which was also covered at a section with baby powder and rubbing alcohol, so the ants wouldn’t be able to climb up and out of the setup. I would then expose the nest by keeping the cover removed and shining a bright light into the nest. The light and warmth would force the colony out, down the new tube, and into the Hacienda del Dorado. So here we go, AC family. Let’s watch the Golden Empire move into their new brand-new territory: the Hacienda del Dorado, the most lavish and natural home we have ever provided for our ant colonies. Behold: the mass migration of the Golden Empire. Detaching the tube and placing cotton into the tube, and attaching our new tube to the opening of the nest. The ants wander out instantly. Here comes our very first brave explorer into the mighty Hacienda del Dorado. The entire colony instantly began travelling to their new lands. And as soon as I saw them carrying brood, I knew the migration of the colony was officially under way. And they’ve chosen our driftwood as the ideal new home base! What I didn’t know was if the Golden Empire’s three queens were indeed still alive. They were the most important members of the colony, as they were the primary egg-layers. Let’s watch for them. Yes! Here’s the first queen moving out! She travels through the tube, escorted by a cohort, and enters the Hacienda del Dorado cautiously. They escort her into the driftwood. Yes! Our second queen officially makes her exit from their old nest! She is escorted swiftly and secretly into a hole in the driftwood. Thankfully, the ants trying to climb up our tube could not get out of our setup due to the band of our baby powder. Now where was that third queen? I tried looking into the nest, but couldn’t seem to find her. For a good hour I scoured the entire nest looking for her. But she could not be found. She’s done this to us before. Could she truly be dead this time? Did our mites kill her somehow? No! Though the colony could survive on just two queens, or even one queen, it was sad to think that we had lost our third queen. But lo and behold, as she has done to us before, she was hiding. I found her nestled in the AC test tube portal. I shone a light into the test tube portal, and it wasn’t long before she too began to move out and head straight for the Hacienda del Dorado, which was now the new talk of the empire. With the three queens now inside, this new home we chose for them was officially Golden Empire territory. Long live the Golden Empire. The next morning, the ants had clearly been busy customizing their new space. They had constructed new anthills around the driftwood pieces. Initially, I thought these ants weren’t diggers, but turns out they’re quite crafty around soil. Our barrier from the new tube was still effective at keeping ants from escaping. One thing that caught my eye, though, was that the Golden Empire seemed to be subduing and preying on alates! Fire ant alates! Hey, these were Fire Nation alates! Apparently the Fire Nation with their new open Fire Palace seen in our last video was having nuptial flights last night in my room! And the lights were attracting the alates into the Hacienda del Dorado, where the Golden Empire awaited to catch them and bring them home to eat. Oh, man. The Hacienda del Dorado was actually an insect death trap! I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. But it meant I really needed to make a cover for the Fire Palace. There’s something for you guys asking me to put two of my ant colonies together. I also spotted the ants lugging around old garbage, bringing it into the Hacienda del Dorado. This, to me, meant that the ants truly had intentions to bury their garbage which further supports our theory that this new environment was good for the ants. I loved watching the ants explore the new territories we provided to them. After their first full day in the Hacienda del Dorado, as is AC tradition, I offered the colony a housewarming gift. A massive cockroach, bigger than they’ve ever had before. A species of roach native to the Philippines, which they relished con gusto. It was truly magnificent, watching the Golden Empire in these new lands. It really allowed me to appreciate the ants a lot more, seeing them in a natural setup like this. A setup which allowed them to showcase more natural behaviours. As the ants swarmed their new cockroach meal, I realized that even though the setup no longer allowed me to have a view of the colony’s internal nest, it was enough for me to know that the ants were probably happier in this kind of setup. And that the ants had a better chance of combating the mites. Perhaps even working with them amicably. Although our old setup was perfectly sufficient for most commonly kept species of ants, it seemed this formiscaped terrarium was much more ideal for this species. We will have to see if this proves to be the ultimate solution to our mite problem. I would like to thank our new friends, Dr. Brian Fisher from the California Academy of Sciences, who passed me along to Dr. Campbell and Raymond Mendez, who were a great help to us for the purposes of this video. I will continue to update you guys on the progress of the mites over time. Forever hoping to provide our ants with the best of captive care, AC family, I consider this day a triumphant advancement for our yellow crazy ants in this Golden Empire saga with mites. So, AC family, what did you think? Do you think this will help get rid of our mites from our ants’ bodies? For you Inner Colony members, I have placed a hidden cookie for you here if you would just like to watch the Golden Empire consuming their new housewarming gift, our huge native cockroach, and exploring their new territories. I also included a long video of the formiscaping construction process which we livestreamed on our official Facebook page. Hope you can also like our Facebook page for these periodic livestreams. All links in the description box. And of course, it’s time for the AC Question of the Week. Last week we asked: What does the term “eclosing” mean? Congratulations to ND Gaming, who correctly answered, Eclosing is the process where the ant comes forth from its pupal stage. Congratulations ND Gaming, you just won a free e-book handbook from our shop. And for this AC Question of the Week: Name the two life stages between which the deutonymph stage occurs in the Astigmatid mites found living among our Golden Empire. Leave your answer in the comments section and you could win a $25 gift card to our shop. Stay tuned next week for a special Valentines Day episode of the AntsCanada ant channel, where we also announce our annual Grand Ant Love contest. Hope you can subscribe to our channel as we upload a new ant video every Saturday at 8 a. m. Eastern Standard Time. Until next week, AC family, it’s ant love forever.