August 8th, 2019
I received my Pogonomyrmex occidentalis queen on the 8th of August, 2019. I was stoked to be able to finally keep this species as it was the first time they were commercially available within Canada.
She arrived in a little test tube set-up filled with some sandy substrate, I connected it up to a brand new bamboo tube and set her in my insulated box, set to 30 degrees celsius overnight.
August 9th, 2019
The day after she arrived, I eagerly checked her setup and was ecstatic to find out that not only has she moved into the bamboo tube, she also laid a small clutch of eggs! I counted 8 myself.
The test tube is full of condensation, so the pictures did not come out well at all, bare with me please haha.
August 10th, 2019
The third day of keeping this species! She is doing great and laid even more eggs overnight! I can’t even properly count how many she has laid!
August 16th, 2019
8 days after she arrived, she has her first few tiny larvae! I was so surprised at the pace this species grows, especially for a founding queen! She also laid tons of eggs, I estimate at least 30.
August 19th, 2019
I left my queen alone for three days after the first larvae were spotted, and checked up on her again on the 19th of August, and to my surprise, the larvae have grown quite a lot and are no longer minuscule. The queen has been busy tearing apart the cricket I left in her outworld and bringing in the pieces for the larvae to consume, I’ve also noticed millets being eaten by the larvae.
Note: one cool thing I’ve noticed about Pogonomyrmex larvae, is that the larvae feed themselves! The queen only has to place the food item near the larvae’s mouth area and the little grubs will chew into it happily. This is different from many other ant species where the queens or workers have to consume the food first then feed it to the larvae manually.
August 23rd, 2019
On August 23rd, the very first pupa was spotted, it was a very white and just morphed from a larva into a pupa. The larva stage only took 7 days compared to 8 days for the egg stage. I was very pleased with the pace this colony is developing at that point.
Notice the 4 prepupae in the photo above, those still look like larvae but are completely milky white, without a trace of food inside them. That’s how one can tell if a larva is getting ready to pupate.
August 26th, 2019
4 pupae now, 3 days later, with a bunch more to come. It seemed like the queen ate some small larvae, but laid some more eggs in return. To be honest I prefer larvae over eggs :p
August 31st, 2019
I didn’t check up on the pogo queen for 4 days and was pleasantly surprised when I did again on the last day of August. She had 10 pupae and one of them was very orange! It meant it was close to eclosion and the first worker will be born soon, very soon!
September 1st, 2019
FIRST WORKER!! Yayyy!
I knew the first worker would be emerging very soon after I saw how orange the pupae was, and I was right! I checked up on my queen the day after I last did because I was so excited to see if the pupa has emerged or not, normally I wouldn’t bother her that much but I was too impatient to wait another day.
The newly emerged worker was very yellow and pale in colour in comparison to the queen, but she will darken with time.
NOTE: In the picture above, you can clearly see some smaller larvae chewing away at a piece of cricket by themselves.
September 8th, 2019
5 workers now, the condensation was very annoying to take pictures through.
I fed the pogos a singular peeled sunflower seed, they brought it inside their test tube and the larvae wen to town on it. It is the big chunky thing in the middle of the photo above.
September 20th, 2019
Around 20 workers now, the colony is growing at a very fast pace.
September 21st, 2019
The pogos have quickly outgrown their previous founding outworld and count at 22 workers as of the 21st of September. I definitely need to make a new one for them to explore. But 22 workers in 44 days of being with me? Heck yea!
September 27th, 2019
I made a desert-themed outworld for my pogo colony today. Like I said above, they have quickly outgrown their previous outworld and deserve a newer, and prettier version. I was very pleased with how it came out and attached up their current bamboo tube into the container.
October 2nd, 2019
Loads of workers now, they are definitely enjoying their new outworld.
October 8th, 2019
Brood pile is looking very nice indeed.
October 14th, 2019
One of my favourite Pogonomyrmex occidentalis photos was taken today, it displayed the queen amongst a crowd of workers and brood, quite majestic if you ask me.
October 22nd, 2019
Literally swimming in brood, after this batch of pupae, we definitely would hit 100 workers.
November 16th, 2019
Exactly 100 days after I received my wonderful queen, I gave them a brand new bamboo tube as a present. I think they like it 😉
November 29th, 2019
Pogos now have at least 200 workers and loooooads of brood, I’ve decided against hibernating them this year but I definitely will next year. I decided that because I’ve learned that hibernation is not 100% required for this species and they can do just fine without it for a year or two. The reason being I noticed they still had lots of fresh eggs and pupae, while larvae can survive through winter, eggs and pupae cannot.
December 12th, 2019
At least 300 workers, what can I say
March 7th, 2020
There has been lots and lots more growth throughout the last three months, but nothing out of the ordinary. So I’ll just share a few pictures I’ve taken of these wonderful creatures.
May 23rd, 2020
Well well well, 3 months after the last update, alate pupae spotted!! they appear to be males but hopefully I get some female alates as well.
June 2nd, 2020
The pupae have darkened significantly and are easy to tell they are males due to the body proportions, I am super excited to see how he will look like as an adult ant.
June 4th, 2020
Will you look at that! The first-ever alate produced from my colony! Even though it’s a male, it is still very cool looking and definitely a great achievement for me! Getting Pogonomyrmex alates in under a year! Super hyped!
June 8th, 2020
The male alate has now fully darkened, it really looks out of place in the colony compared to the red workers. He is a lot skinnier and slightly larger in build, has a matt black head and thorax while the gaster is shiny orange, just like the workers.
I also noticed something else that’s very interesting, the first-ever female alate pupa! I can tell that she’s a female alate due to the body composition and how she’s a bit larger than the worker pupae. As well as the three eyes in the middle of her head.
June 9th, 2020
Aha! Look who eclosed! The female alate emerged a day after I saw her as a pupa and is a beautiful pale yellow colour. It almost makes her seem like she’s glowing! I managed to get a picture of her next to the original queen. Mother and daughter moment 😉
June 12th, 2020
The brood-pile is ever-growing, and the pogos have outgrown their outworld and are in desperate need of a new one. So I set to work constructing a new outworld for them, much much bigger than the last.
June 16th, 2020
The grout for the new outworld has completely dried by now, and I connected up the three out bamboo tubes into the brand new arena. They eagerly explored their new territory.
During the commotion, the female alate ran outside into the outworld! She has fully hardened by now and is looking fantastic! I managed to capture her and put her in a test tube for a few quick photos, then promptly released her back into the colony.
Isn’t she just a beautiful ant?