We have less than 5 months to reach 10,000 signatures, I know its a long road, I believe in all of you to help make this happen, if a dog chew was poisoning dogs, if a reptile product was harming reptiles, these petitions would get so much support, this is the same thing, these products are harming our pets, they promote poor husbandry, this is a campaign that can bring light to our wonderful hobby and show people that we truly care for our pets, like all pet owners care for theirs, please keep telling people about the petition, together we can make a change, together we can show we want responsible products designed around the welfare of the ants!
Don't give up, keep trying to get the petition signed!
For those that follow my social media or know me within the community, may know my current employment situation has changed, The position I held for 2 years, which gave me the stability I needed to create my content, came to an end, so I'm back to contracting on a temporary basis across the country or globe, I will be creating content every chance I get, for the foreseeable future it will be very sporadic opportunities.
This will not affect the operations of the hobbyist shop I have set up, a new way you can support the channel, by purchasing some items I may have for sale, these items will be sent out regardless of where I am, as I have help to ensure any sales will be honoured! currently have some isopods for sale and will be adding some new items this week so keep an eye out!
we have petitioned the uk government!
Starting this petition, I was not even sure it would pass the government standards, I had worried they may of felt it was a hoax or a prank petition, but it passed the standards and now we are really in for the long road ahead! the campaign has started, the word is being spread about the cause to ban gel ant farms, 10,000 signatures is the bench mark to get an official government response, but we want change, we want this debated in Parliament, our society has made huge steps towards, ecological and environmental thinking, other pets and animals are offered protections for their welfare, but gel farms are regularly profited from by companies that have no interest in the welfare of the creatures being housed, they are sold for the enjoyment of the people to watch workers, removed from a wild colony, digging tunnels until they die from a horrific death, the gel farms drown them, the old style uncle Milton's ant farms, slowly become a decaying mass of harmful bacteria from the ants own waste, with nothing to clean or cycle the soil, death is the only out come, some Queens can live up to 30 years, some colonies can live even longer depending on their natural reproduction cycle being able to replace egg laying productive's in the colony for their cycle to continue.
Housing should be adequate to house species, housing should focus on providing the best care and comfort for the creatures housed within them, these gimmick nests do not focus on the ants welfare, they focus on providing short term entertainment at the suffering of living creatures.
Many of the gel ant farms have instructions to collect wild ants which could be a legal offence within the UK protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
A product being sold in B&M depicted Formica rufa as a species to be collected and kept in a gel farm (A species on the near threatened list) Gel that needed a science degree to make, none of the products guarantee that it is the same gel that was created by Nasa for the Ants. regardless the gel Nasa created was for an experiment to get ants safely into space, it was never designed to long term sustainably house a colony. Ants do not have lungs they have "spiracles" on the sides of their bodies that take oxygen directly to the trachea which branch through out the ants body, Gel farms block their spiracles and drown the ants as the gel breaks down, the gels also are quick to harbor mold and harmful bacteria, whilst ants do require humidity, they require a variation of humidity and arid sections in their nest to regulate their bodies and biological needs.
We aim to reform the corporate perception of ant keeping and demand a better standard of products that care for the ants health, we have various hobbyist shops that provide suitable long term housing focused on the ants welfare and still giving enjoyment and viewing access to the keeper.
I have opened the door to make a change happen, but I need you all to be able to make this change a reality, even if your not an ant keeper, perhaps your just someone who cares about the environment and the planet we live on, Ants are major contributors to the health of our ecosystems, protect them by standing up against this out dated thought process, against these nests that were designed in 1956, when people viewed our wildlife & nature in a totally different light, as a purpose to serve our needs, not as creatures we share this planet with.
it takes a minute to sign the petition and share it with your friends, you can make a change that can have impacts across your entire life time, be the change you want to see in the world, take the time to make a difference, stay legendary!
Click this link to sign the petition:
Ban the use of Ant Gel Farms as part of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
We want to ban the practice of unsuitable housing being promoted to the hobby of ant keeping. Gel farms and similar style ant farms, promote destruction of the local wildlife, their barbaric and not designed for the welfare of the creatures being kept, promoting poor husbandry practices.
These nests promote damaging practices to the local wildlife, their not designed to care for the welfare of the creatures being housed, most often the Ants die a horrific death, drowning in the gel as it breaks down, becoming infested with mold and harmful bacteria, these are gimmick nests profiting from improper care and welfare practices.
Join me in this cause to have Gel ant farms legally banned in the UK the start of a new dawn for the ant keeping community, no more will new keepers waste money on a product that will kill the beloved pets, I need 5 people to sign the petition to take it live, I need 100,000 people to sign the petition to get it in front of the government!
I believe in you all, together we can do this, one big ant colony working together to do better for the community! lets get rid of this monstrosity of a product once and for all!
Kicking off this weekend with the Formicast Podcast crossover, unfortunately I was attending a family emergency and was unable to make the show, however it was action packed with Esthetic Ants taking the stage and informing all of his #WEDONTAPPROVE the hashtag to represent current issues within the community, in the hopes of improving the quality and experiences of those within the hobby.
I released a 5 minute special on the movement this Sunday, with many more follow up videos on the topic to follow.
For my part of this movement I have decided to focus on getting gel farms & gimmick nests banned or replaced with products designed for the welfare of the Ants they house.
Stay tuned for that #savetheants
I've started a project to collect data to better understand the populations in my local area, whilst my primary focus is on Formica, I will be recording all the data of formicidae found in the area's of survey.
My hopes are to begin this project by creating a local database, I then hope to expand this project on a national scale, using Hertfordshire and the surrounding area's as my test sites for this data collection project to scope how viable this type of survey would be to replicate and roll out on a national scale.
For reasons I cant yet disclose, I have highlighted Formica rufa due to a research project that is currently underway, out of interest to that project, the database will focus on the genus of Formica, a genus with species in decline, Formica pratensis becoming extinct on the UK mainland by 1988, existing only on the Channel Islands, Formica rufibarbis & Formica exsecta are endangered on the verge of extinction according to UKBAP (UK Biodiversity Action Plan) offered protection as listed under section 41 of the NERC Act for England (E).
The majority of Formica are seen as near threatened, this means they are on the verge of being on the endangered list, as so they are offered protection status under these legislation guidelines.
These are just some of the legislations, schedules, sections & guidelines that offer a variety of ant species across the UK a protected status the full list is as follows.
On the priority endangered lists within these legislations:
On the near threatened list within these legislations:
When they say the law is there to be interpreted, it certainly applies to the patchwork guessing game of what possible legislation could be used for removing these species from protected habitats, a host of infractions, could be levied, your individual case and circumstance taken into consideration, for example removal of a single Queen from a protected habitat or listed species Vs removal of multiples of Queens, then intent, for personal keeping or for profits, the legislation varied depending where in the country your being prosecuted, use of The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (As amended) this legislation covers a wide range of protected species and habitats, giving legislative frameworks for designation of sites, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) Special Protection Area's (SPAs) Special Area's of Conservation (SACs).
Amendments in 1994 implemented two pieces of European law bringing together the designation of "European Protected Species".
At the very least you could find yourself facing a charge of theft or disturbance of wild animals, plants or habitats.
I feel through this journey I have some how become an intern in a law firm, it has not been easy to translate the legislation and track down a concrete answer to the protection status of this species.
Much of the work and data is still to being collected, as part of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 the next major update has been provisionally planned anytime now in the summer of 2021.
I expect the lists may be updated as small surveys began after the 2019 Strategic Plan.
This is pretty much a visual representation of the project that I am proposing, now remember I have no formal qualifications in the sciences, I'm not backed by any academic or scientific institution, I am a hobbyist, certainly I will say I feel I am at the point of my educational journey, that I feel confident enough to tackle a project such as this, voluntarily, in my own time, my way of contributing to these creatures that I adore, In the wider scope hoping to aid a wide spectrum of interested parties, conservationists, ecologists, myrmecologists, those who can use the data collected to make an impact and a difference to the survival of these species.
I will offer up the data I collect from this project for educational & scientific use, a small piece of a much larger puzzle, I hope to contribute to.
If you would like to show your support, for these projects, or the content I create, please consider checking out my Patreon.
The first of the free courses I have started to work through to improve my understanding and increase my professional learning portfolio, my personal ethos over a career compared to a job, a job is something you do to make money & pay bills.
A career is your life, your dedication, your passion, a career can be started from the bottom, where you go is down to what you create, how hard you work, how much you learn, knowledge is a powerful tool, in life I've learnt, its not always the means, the same knowledge taught by a teacher in an academic setting, is available to be found, to be read, studied & understood, I'm passionate about self education, platforms such as the Open university, other academic institutions are a great resource. I honestly recommend checking out what is on offer by clicking the OU logo above.
Professionalism, are the standards you hold yourself to, set the bar high and always set your standards a little higher so that your striving to achieve more.
I'm dyslexic, in life it has caused me to always find another way to achieve my goals and my aims, I may not suit the mainstream route, but with dedication and never taking no for an answer, I have found there are always ways if you apply yourself, think outside of the box, never turn down an opportunity to prove your passions, educate yourself further.
My mum is a great inspiration in my life, she is also dyslexic, she has never stopped achieving, she has always achieved it on her own, she is a very strong person, fearless of the unknown, when one door has closed or a wall in her life has appeared, around it, under it, over it or through it, she has always found a way, when I was born, she was a professional make-up artist for film & TV and even taught in one of the most prestigious schools in the country, but she found she could not keep the career she loved & be a single mother to raise me, she evolved, she turned her skills in special effects make-up and created a successful home business, making garden ornaments, then moved on to making stain glass, she trained and became a reflexologist, then she moved in to her final career studying for an initial 5 years, working & continuously studying for a further 15 years becoming a psychotherapist/counsellor specialising in bereavement and mental health. She taught me that no matter where you are in life, where you go, what you become, its never too late, if you work hard, train hard, find ways to educate yourself, you can evolve, adapt & overcome any obstacle or fear, I owe my mum my ethos on life, work & professionalism, the tenacity to keep going, no matter how impossible or unlikely, it may all feel.
I've decided to keep blogging on a personal level about my journey & decision to change careers, my route, perhaps unconventional, I hope may inspire others to make a change in their lives, I appreciate so much of what I have & the career I been building over the last 8 years, my passions in life have evolved, I am passionate about making a bigger change, protecting & understanding the world we live in, humans have to learn to co-exist, with our dwindling wildlife & ecosystems, I hope my eventual path on this change can lead me to become a myrmecologist, working in conservation, for now I'm focusing on starting this career path, learning ecology, wildlife (flora & fauna) management, I'm aiming at hands on positions such as forest & wildlife or conservation Rangers, I'm confident that I have a solid set of cross over skills, I can bring into my new career one of my strongest sets being my mental attitude & sheer determination, as a close protection operative we say, "We always have to be lucky, the threat only has to be lucky once". Going forward I only need to find that one opportunity, no matter what adversity may be ahead of me, no matter how many set backs or people who turn me away, you have to break a lot of coal to find a diamond, right now I'm mining for my diamond, my opportunity to shine, my opportunity to create and forge a new path in life.
Never let the perception of failure knock you back or stop your goals, take everything positive or negative as a lesson, re-evaluate, plan a new route or try another way, keep focused on your eventual goals, see yourself in your position, in your dream, create it, I have faith I will create mine, one way or another, I have faith you can to.
Influence of queen phenotype, investment and maternity apportionment on the outcome of fights in cooperative foundations of the ant Lasius niger.
Authors - Serge Aron, Nathalie Steinhauer, Denis Fournier.
"Cooperative colony founding (pleometrosis) in social insects is an ideal model for investigating how cooperation and competition shape social behaviour among unrelated individuals. In many ant species, foundress associations are more competitive and the colonies survive better compared with single-queen colonies. However, cooperation among queens breaks down at the time of emergence of the first workers, and all but one queen are eliminated. Because no sexuals are produced in incipient colonies, the surviving queen will monopolize the future reproductive success of the colony, while defeated queens will have zero fitness. We examined factors affecting queens' survival prospects during reversion to single-queen colonies in cooperative foundations of the ant Lasius niger. By combining phenotypic and genotypic analyses, we determined how queen's size, individual investment and maternity apportionment influence the outcome of fights. Larger queens were more likely to survive fights. However, smaller queens survived up to one-third of the fighting. By contrast, neither weight loss at the time of a fight outbreak, a measure of queens' relative investment in brood production, nor maternity apportionment influenced the outcome of fights. Moreover, investment of cofoundresses and partitioning of reproduction were not adjusted to queen's size, suggesting that reproductive competition among queens does not occur before the emergence of the first workers. These results lead us to consider pleometrotic associations in L. niger as a ‘best of a bad job’, whereby the benefits of joint founding and the probability of surviving the conflict might be sufficient for smaller queens to embark on cooperative foundations."
Taking this paper into consideration, I have decided to attempt to measure the Queens that are in the experiment, I am also considering adding another approach to the experiment, Ant Holleufer is currently doing this exact same experiment using Camponotus Ligniperda, should i keep a test colony of 3 Queens individually in tubes, within the same set up, a gap only big enough for the workers to fit through, this means the Queens will never meet, will the workers form a co-operative colony?
We know the test colonies are expected to have a 66.6% loss rate, from 15 founding Queens in theory, unless a rare decision of co-operation is made 10 Queens wont make it in this experiment.
The experiment is not to compare the relation of loss between co-operative founding and single founding but to gauge the benefits of this process, its effects on the colonies long term survival and ultimate success. the real data will be collected towards the end of the experiment when we find out how they faired over hibernation, we have looked at other studies that boasted a higher immunity to disease when co-founding, a capacity to produce a large work force in a short amount of time, Lasius Niger nuptial flights occur not long prior to the onset of winter, they do not have long to establish a work force and prepare to lock down until summer returns.
I've already had a few comments regarding the losses of Queens, losses over the founding period of Lasius Niger colonies are high, this species has some of the largest nuptial flights recorded, their flights can be tracked from space, pleometrosis is a tactic this species had adopted, the experiment is not forcing un-natural behavior, or creating any higher losses than would be created through the founding process both in captivity and in the wild, if 5 colonies in the wild formed with 3 co-founding Queens, eventually they too would suffer a 66.6% loss of Queen population.
Ultimately this experiment could put an answer to the question which method is better, single founding or co-founding, with hard data to suggest & prove in some cases why it could be the superior method despite the calculated loss, a loss which is negated by nature, and the natural losses this species endures in the continuation of its species life cycle. taking advantage of a process they use for survival.
This experiment is exciting because it seeks to document and collect data that could aid or be taken for other research, documenting, diet through measured portions, brood production & numbers/growth per colony, Queen sizes, temperatures, humidity, this experiment will be carried out over a much longer period than previous studies I have encountered that focus around pleometrosis, to my knowledge of the experiments i have read, none, seem to compare the long term survival or effect post hibernation between single founding & co-founding colonies, I will record the lifespan of the Queens in the test colonies and the single colonies, I expect losses with single Queens, but with so many possible factors it would be impossible to sumise the expected percentage, I aim to document any behaviours in regards to pleometrosis, if I can observe any. or find a way to record the test colonies 24/7.
Ants & The Colonialist