Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Ant Cricket Calamity...

Unfortunately my Myrmecophilus cf. manni died off about a month ago... Around September 18th or so, I noticed there were a lot of predatory mites in my Myrmecophilus jar, like a lot, which I assumed were eating the springtails and oribatid mites that had been plentiful in said jar for the last couple months... I saw a few of the cricket hatchlings through the sides of the jar, so I thought they were OK.  But September 23rd, I checked the jar, and there were predatory mites EVERYWHERE, crawling all over the walls of the jar and the substrate, and I didn't see any crickets... So I just checked the jar thoroughly, and yup, all my Myrmecophilus were dead... 😭 And the springtails in there had nearly been wiped out. 

I think what happened was the predatory mites went to town on the other microfauna in the jar, not the crickets themselves, and it was the tactile contact and swarming behavior of the predatory mites that stressed the Myrmecophilus out and killed them all... Because the ant cricket hatchlings are about the size of Compsodes hatchlings, and I never saw any predatory mites eating Compsodes hatchlings, so I think that prey that size is just too big for these particular mites.
In any case, my culture crashed, and predatory mites seem to blame, because they had their boom, and then my crickets crashed... 

Unfortunately, I've been looking for more the past couple weeks, but it seems the cooler Fall temps have sent most of the ants around here deep underground, so none of the spots I've seen Myrmecophilus before have active ant colonies under them anymore... Oh well, hopefully in the Spring I can catch more and try again.

Well, that's gonna do it for this post, hope everyone enjoyed, thanks for reading, stay safe, and I'll see you all next time! 😉

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