Care for newly mated carebara diversa queens; colony founding

C. Diversa & C. Affinis colony founding is claustral, meaning that the queens don’t require to be fed during founding.

Deby Cassill wrote a 2002 paper entitled “Brood Care Strategies by Newly Mated Monogyne Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Queens During Colony Founding“. Based on my own personal observations, Deby’s documented observations about the claustral monogyne founding of Solenopsis Invicta colonies has a striking resemblance with C. Diversa – relevant extracts below:

“Apparently, half the initial batch of eggs laid were trophic eggs employed to sustain the newly mated queen and feed the larvae. Additional trophic eggs were laid by the newly mated queen to supplement larval nutrition. After laying a trophic egg, newly mated queens pierced its cuticle, ingested its contents, and then regurgitated those contents to larvae … Newly mated queens also ingested the gut fluids of molting larvae (anal trophallaxis). In addition, newly mated queens assisted in the molting process of larvae and pupae, and recycled the molted cuticle by feeding it to other larvae…

Newly mated queens and founding colonies experienced no shortage of adult labor for brood care. During the first phase of colony founding, newly mated queens employed several compensatory strategies for rearing brood without worker assistance. First, queens were hyper-vigilant, providing round the- clock brood care. Second, queens avoided the cost of foraging for food by rearing their first batch of offspring on body reserves in the form of trophic eggs that queens laid, ingested and then regurgitated to larvae. Third, brood developed in a synchronized sequence from egg to larva to pupa, such that newly mated queens generally had one brood type to care for at a time. Because the high-maintenance larvae hatched as a cohort, newly mated queens synchronized the production of additional trophic eggs to feed them.”

Newly mated (delate) queen’s first clutch.

Delate with her first lavae.

For newly mated queens, I tend to prefer to use burnt soil (aka, red sand) in my test tubes. Queens appear to feed safer with the presence of the movable substrate, thus significantly enhancing the founding success rate.

Fertile queens tend to lay eggs in a clump within 2-3 days of mating. Eggs are not laid one by one, but rather, in a clutch of 5-7 eggs per lay depending on the state of the queen’s ovarian development.

A healthy and fertile queen will lay approximately 40-50 eggs over the first week after mating, and the eggs are opaque/white when laid.

Infertile queens will lay eggs in a scattered manner, like such:

If the queen is fertile, lavae should start to develop by the 7th to 10th day after the first clutch is laid.

Lavae are obvious- they are yellow and elongated.

Incessant checking on the queen and suboptimal conditions (stress, lighting, noise) may cause her to eat her first clutch, delaying the appearance of lavae beyond 7-10 days after laying.

C Diversa Delate with lavae.

Pupae will develop within another 7 days or so.

And the first nanitics would enclose within another 7 days.

Total egg to worker duration appears to be between 23 to 24 days at 28-30 degree celcius.

The author believes that C Diversa is not pologynous. However other sub species of carebara such as Affinis and Cf Affinis may be polygynous. Discussion here.

Double queen young colony of Affinis observed in Henderson Stream Park.

3 queen Affinis colony that founded in a test tube.

4 queen Affinis colony that founded in an AAC formicarium. 1 queen died along the way, leaving 3 queens.