Test tube feeders
We've been struggling to find a way to conveniently feed some of our founding colonies still in test tubes. Small drops of honey water on foil has always been the go to. But we're sick of cleaning test tubes when our queens flip the foil over or wander through the honey water and make a sticky mess.
Our solution? Well, we won't claim it's revolutionary but it does seem to be working quite well. Looking through the photos above it obviously borrows the tried and tested method of saturating cotton wool. But look closer and there's more than meets the eye.
Firstly the cotton wool. It's not the conventional cotton wool like you're used to using. They're actually dental cotton rolls and they're exactly 10mm in diameter. That's important because we're using them inside 10mm flexible vinyl tube. More importantly these dental cotton rolls are sold sterile. Assemble the feeders using clean hands or rubber gloves and they won't attract any mould for weeks at a time. When you do spot some mould simply slide the dental roll out some and cut the end off. We picked these up from a dental supplies store. Approx. AUD$24 for 2000.
Second, the plastic plug. Because we wanted to keep them streamlined we wanted a plug that fit snugly without increasing the profile too much. These are plastic plugs that are actually designed for steel tubes. However, they work great inside the 10mm flexible vinyl tubing.
So that's basically it. Put it all together fill it with honey water or your choice of ant food. Most importantly these feeders slide straight inside a 16mm test tube replacing the cotton wool plug that you would normally have in the end. The dental rolls are a lot more absorbent than regular cotton wool and will stay somewhat dryer. So much so that even if your ants choose to walk over it they won't create a huge mess.
In an unfortunate case of bad timing, a live TV interview in Australia has been interrupted by a mating swarm of ants during their nuptial flight.