Adding A New Queen To Our Myrmecia Pilosula Colony
We recently had the unfortunate passing of a Myrmecia pilosula queen of a colony of 25. The colony was now destined to die a slow death, but we did have an idea. Introducing a new queen.
Typically introducing queens to an exciting colony would be cause for a swift death. However, we knew that this species was polygamous in the wild and it was possible they would accept her. What we didn't know was whether or not the new queens grouped together at the founding stage after they'd flown, or joined existing colonies.
We thought we would try and introduce a lone queen that we had had for over a month into the colony that had just lost it's queen a week earlier. What happened next was a big surprise.
In the video above you can see the method we used to introduce the new queen to the colony. We started by placing the queen in an empty container with some cotton wool and sugary water. We then placed, one by one, workers from the colony, allowing them to inspect the queen individually as we added them. We started filming after we had already introduced 4 workers.
The sugary water acted as a distraction for the hungry workers as they were added. You can see in the video some of the workers nip at the queen with their mandibles, but despite our overly dramatic music, generally it was very uneventful. So much so that it would appear that the queen was already part of the colony. This type of reaction would lead us to believe that it's possible that new queens join existing colonies after their nuptial flight.
It is worth mentioning that our colony and new queen were found in a similar area so it's possible that they are related. Perhaps this genetic link tells them to accept the related queens.
We can also report that after a day or so the queen is still happily alive in the colony.
Check out the action above.