I Stuck My Arm into Thousands of Weaver Ants

I Stuck My Arm into Thousands of Weaver Ants


Before we begin today’s episode I wanted to
let everyone know that AntsCanada.com is having its big AC annual holidays Promo: the 20-2020
sale. That’s 20% off all Hybrid Series ant farms
and gear packs from now until January 2020, plus a free copy of our newly updated “Ultimate
Ant Keeping Handbook”, right now at AntsCanada.com. Click the link in the description to get your
AC ant farm today! And now enjoy today’s ant episode! Speaking of trees and being vigilant, making
sure everything was in order, I noticed the Canopy of Vortexia, our tree-top forest home
to our aggressive Weaver Ant Colony, The Emerald Empire was in need of some serious maintenance. First, the piping of the rain system had unstuck
from the glass. Also, the trees have seriously overgrown and
they needed to be cut back big time! But there’s just one problem, the only way
in was to open these front glass doors and well, it seems the weaver ants had decided
to fuse its main leaf nest to the glass. Oh boy! This whole maintenance operation was going
to be interesting! Last week, we had a fun-filled journey exploring
various kingdoms in our AC Antiverse. We visited Pacmania, this moss-adorned home
of our Surinam horned frog. Also, we prepped the moat surrounding Skull
Island, home to our ghost ants. And of course, our biggest accomplishment
last week, we crafted the greatest vivarium we’ve ever created in the AC Antiverse, a
multi-species, bioactive domain for the Dark Knights. These exciting journeys of discovery and adventure
around the ant room certainly don’t end there. This week holds yet again, another exhilarating
episode as we continue to dig deep, climb up, and experience first-hand the marvelous
territories of our beloved ant colonies. AC Family, without further ado, let’s begin
this week’s exploration! Standing tall in our collection of ants and
other animals, here in the AC Antiverse, is the Canopy of Vortexia, home to the extravagant
Emerald Empire. This savage colony of weaver ants, scientifically
known as Oecophylla smaragdina, has shown us their brilliance through the building of
their cool leaf basket nests in the trees, their collection of protein sources, and even
through their apparent understanding of sustainability and growth management of the Vortexian trees
on which they live. It seems that we have seen practically everything
these mighty and hard-working arboreal ants can do. But, this time, I wanted to push the boundary
of what is possible for the Emerald Empire’s housing, and it involves sticking my arm and
even my face into their highly guarded territories. Yup! It’s totally crazy, but hey, someone’s gotta
do it, but don’t worry. I have a plan, so stay tuned for that. But before we get started, for those of you
who are new to the channel, let’s catch you up to speed. In celebration for reaching 3 Million subscribers,
I decided try keeping these highly popular ants in the ant world – Asian Weaver Ants. Native to Southeast Asia, these Weaver Ants
are known for their arboreal life as they build their nest atop trees. To create their homes, they use silk produced
by their larvae effectively gluing tree leaves together. The transpiration from the leaves helps naturally
humidify the insides of their leaf nests, and as the leaves wilt, the ants go on to
create new leaf nests on the same tree. They seem to know when to start new nests,
which they do well in advance before their current nests wilt, and appear to somehow
have a feeling for how much their able to build sustainably so that their host plant
doesn’t die out. They’re surely one of the most captivating
ant colonies I’ve ever kept. Three months after the creation of the Canopy
of Vortexia, this is what the territory looks like now. Look! The trees had overgrown. Seems they had been working on plans for this
money tree to grow much taller and their plant management initiatives have been working! This money tree has grown leaves that extend
up to the top mesh, but here’s the very concerning problem with that: if I leave this tree unchecked,
I know for certain that its force would eventually push through the mesh, destroying the terrarium,
and setting the ants free. Hey, wait a second! Could this be the Emerald Empire’s master
plan of escape? OK not gunna even go there! Also, there were other tuning and maintenance
issues that needed to be dealt with like dislodged piping from the rain system, glass cleaning,
a hanging dead leaf nest which drove my OC mind insane, and this stray plastic cup that
fell from their feeding plate, which I’ve been dying for months to pick up and dispose. Given these major and minor concerns, it was
no doubt in my mind that maintenance was needed, but due to the way their enclosure was designed,
the only way I could get in was by opening these two front glass panels, so going into
Vortexia wasn’t something I could do every day. Vortexia maintenance definitely was something
I intended on doing as infrequently as possible and only when necessarily needed. Now AC Family, check out what else I was thinking
regarding all this! So the Dark Knight’s new bioactive planted
vivarium home we made last week, full of creatures like millipedes, bagworms, jumping spider,
etc living with the ant colony, made for a very self-sustaining ecosystemic environment. So I figured, then, if Vortexia was also made
much more bioactive, theoretically it would mean that I’d have to open the terrarium less
often and perhaps even improve the quality of the Emerald Empire’s life by making their
home much more natural, much more bioactive! And so AC Family, after careful thought, it
was then that I decided, while doing maintenance on Vortexia, it was also time for us to upgrade
the territories a notch, and transform Vortexia into a multi-species, bioactive vivarium. But before I tell you how I’m going to do
that, and what creatures I plan on adding to Vortexia, there was a neighbouring ant
kingdom that was also in need of some maintenance. To the West of Vortexia, sits the mystical
double floating islands of Avista, home to our Big-Headed ants, the Bobbleheads. You, the AC Family, named them after the big
heads of the supermajor workers. Take a look at how some of these supermajors
sport rather comically enlarged heads, compared to the ordinary workers. The big heads specialize in cutting things
up by the way! The great jaw force of the colony! Of the entire AC Antiverse, the home of the
Bobbleheads stands out because it is our only truly open-concept, glass-less ant setup. As you may see here, the potted bonsai plants
are rooted down into the soils which extend into these two jars which hold the island
up. Meanwhile, these jars are placed in the middle
of a glass enclosure, whose short walls are covered in baby powder, thereby keeping the
ants within the premises. From afar, the home of the Bobbleheads look
like floating mini-gardens. A second island is situated there in the back,
but we’ll visit that island in a sec. At the center of the main island grows a bonsai
red banyon tree, that we call the Great Tree of Life. The tree gets its name because it provides
life to the Bobbleheads in a few interesting ways. First, the tree offers the Bobbleheads shelter
as they nest beneath the solid tree, protected among its roots. It also houses herds of mealybugs, which the
ants farm and milk for their sweet honeydew excretions. Finally, the tree also eats up their ant poop,
a great fertilizer! In fact, this partnership between ant and
tree has been going so well, that the tree has grown profusely, and I’ve had to continually
trim the tree back almost once a week. In fact, I am about to do it now. Here we go! I started with the outer leaves. Now, watch this, guys! Every time I snip or fiddle around with their
sacred Tree of Life, the Bobbleheads get super mad! The ants never back down from defending their
precious tree! This has become a weekly ritual now. And oh boy! Here they come! The Bobbleheads came rushing out of their
nest with a sole mission to bite and attack my giant hands from the skies. Sorry Bobbleheads, but this process is essential
for the maintenance of your sacred Tree of Life. Hang tight! Ok, I’m done! Sheesh! No need to get feisty! Now, trimming the tree was not all that needed
to be done. First, the second island’s tree had actually
died. This once luscious bonsai tree of a different
species was now withered and dead. I suppose the species of tree did not fare
well in the semi-shaded conditions of my window, so it died. However, I couldn’t just get rid of the island
because ants were still nesting within its soils, as well. I needed to plant a new tree there to replace
the dead tree, because it does seem trees happen to be the Bobbleheads’ secret to success. I mean, look at how big the colony has grown
over time! You can truly appreciate the sheer size of
the colony every time I water the islands. They always come rushing out with their brood,
and I even get a glimpse of the royal queens surfacing at times. It was clear that this supercolony was now
bigger than ever. And so AC Family, aside from restoring their
second island by planting a replacement tree, I felt it was finally time to also give the
Bobbleheads a third floating island. Back to the Vortexia, I knew making the territories
more bioactive meant introducing more organisms to Vortexia, and so here was my plan! First, I knew I needed to increase the ground
cover vegetation. So I felt this gorgeous-looking heart-leaf
philodendron, scientifically called Philodendron cordatum, one of the hardiest terrarium plants
I know, was perfect. Next, I wanted to add some awesome leaf litter,
scooped up from my neighbourhood. It contained tonnes of springtails, isopods,
millipedes, and beneficial mites that would help breakdown organic waste to help fertilize
the plants in Vortexia. And hey look what else I found: this leaf
litter also contained a miniature species of forest roach. How cool right?! Speaking of which, check out the next creatures
I wanted to add: Dubia roaches, scientifically known as Blaptica dubia. These roaches, as you may or may not know,
are my feeder roaches, meaning I pre-crush them and feed them to various animals of my
Ant Room. But, after thinking about it for a bit, I
figured these roaches would be an awesome addition to Vortexia! They can eat decaying leaves that fall to
the floor, plus possibly the dead leaf nests from the trees. If you wish to know more about these underrated
and seldom recognized Dubia roaches, here’s a video I made about them and their home. Plus, I have been noticing that every now
and then, the Emerald Empire has been catching darkling beetles in Vortexia. The mealworms and superworms that we feed
to our various colonies in the Ant Room are actually larvae of darkling beetles. I guess sometimes the superworms survive my
pre-crushing somehow and manage to escape the deadly mandibles of their ant predators,
seeking out safe locations within the terrariums to proceed with the process of pupation, and
development into these shiny black darkling beetles, and it seems the Emerald Empire has
managed to successfully hunt these survivors at ground level. I’ve actually seen this happen with the Fire
Nation and Dark Knights, as well. Given these past experiences, I figured, why
not try to allow insect prey to populate the floors of Vortexia, reproduce on their own
while eating up decaying matter like they would in the wild, but also provide the Weaver
Ants with a supply of prey items. Now wait! I know what you guys are thinking! Ahhhh AntsCanada has changed his ways! He’s now condoning live feeding! Let’s cancel him! Hold on! I still make it a personal rule to never feed
live prey to animals like ants, that don’t need to eat live prey, because it’s a slow
and painful death for the prey item, but in this case, the prey animals would have a great
chance at escaping and avoiding the ants, by burrowing into the leaf litter or into
the ground, and can otherwise feed, breed, and live normally as they would in the wild. It theoretically would be an equal playing
field for prey and predator, in my mind anyway, so the cruelty factor isn’t technically even
an issue both for the Dubia roaches and darkling beetles living with the Emerald Empire in
Vortexia. The ants could simply wander around the forest
floor below their leaf nests to hunt for prey, which the ants do in the wild. I am sure that the co-existence of Vortexian
prey and predators would make for a very interesting bioworld. So first, I needed to remove this dead tree
on the second island in order to replace it with the new tree for the Bobbleheads. I removed the entire island from the island
network. Taking the island off its foundation base,
you can see that the jar is filled with soil in which the Bobbleheads were still nesting. I knew that removing the tree from the pot
had to be done with the utmost care because surely there were still ants nesting in the
soils. I was already expecting a tonne of Bobbleheads
to come rushing out once I they felt me touching their dead tree. So, here goes nothing! I carefully removed the rock from the island
then proceeded to cut the tree off at the roots, then attempted to firmly but carefully
pull the dead tree from the pot. Pop! The tree broke right off, and I made a bit
of a mess, but thankfully, no ants came boiling out. Perhaps they didn’t care about the tree much
since it was already dead. Good! Now, in its place I wanted to plant this baby
Schefflera plant, which also happens to be the same species as one of the trees used
in Vortexia. I feel this would be a better adapted plant
to the conditions next to my window, seeing as it’s done so well in Vortexia. I planted the Scheflera plant in. OK, so THIS WAS THE CRAZIEST THING I’ve ever
done in my life! I know you’ve heard me say this before, but
No, this is! As you may or may not know, although these
weaver ants don’t have stingers like the Fire Nation, they still possess some powerful mandibles
and a bite from these ladies combined with a painful formic acid spray is enough to make
any trespasser scream! Plus, what made this operation extra scary
was that the Emerald Empire had decided to fuse their main leaf nest to the door of their
terrarium. Could this get any more scary? I worry that as soon as I open this glass
door, it would rattle the nest, setting the weaver ants into an angry frenzy. I needed to prepare myself and make sure I
had a plan of attack. I needed to know what things I had to grab,
cut, pull out, and add before I went in to the territories. There was no time to think as soon as those
glass doors were open! I ran through the motions and checklist of
tasks in my head many times, as I knew it was imperative to get things right the first
time so the tank would be open for the shortest amount of time possible. It wasn’t a matter of if the weaver ants would
be attacking and escaping, it was a matter of how many! So AC Family, here was my plan. Are you ready? So, apparently there’s a superstition or tradition
among mango farmers, who have to deal with these ants when harvesting mangoes. Legend has it that if you whisper to the ants,
telling them that you are a friend and aren’t going to harm them, the ants will leave you
alone and allow you to pick the fruit without launching an attack. If the legends were true, this told me then,
that it was possible to work around these ants as long as I was gentle, and not just
obtrusively moving in shaking things around like a predator. Boy, did I hope I was right and the legends,
true! I put on my gloves and covered my hands and
arms with baby powder. There were ants that were already showing
signs of wanting to tear my skin up at the earliest opportunity. Why so aggressive, ladies? You can even see them here congregating at
the door opening, ready to greet trespassers with mandibles and acid. But I had no choice. Vortexia needed maintenance and there was
no other way. I took a deep breath… and looked down at
the key that would unlock the door. AC Family, behold, the new island I planned
on connecting to Avista. Isn’t it cute? It had three bonsai’d money trees, also one
of the two trees in Vortexia, so it was bound to do well as part of Avista. Green moss grew like a carpet along the front
of the island. I prepared the tray on which the new island
would rest by mixing baby powder and rubbing alcohol and painting it along the walls. Once dried no Bobblehead would be able to
scale these vertical surfaces. I then proceeded to add the two new islands
to Avista and arranged for the driftwood to create the connecting bridge between the three
land masses. And there we have it, Avista is now officially
an archipelago. Aren’t these islands beautiful AC Family? Looking from afar, the islands were a luscious
garden of greenery. I couldn’t wait to watch the Bobbleheads explore
their new territories, and of course, as always, in celebration of their new home, I provided
them with a tasty bite! “Please don’t bite.” I whispered softly, summoning up the most
calming words that came to mind: “Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel…” OK just kidding. That’s not what I said. Ahem… “Emerald Empire, I come in peace. I’m a friend, your Creator of Worlds”. The ants menaced me from the edges, watching
the tape being removed from the doors. “I am not interested in destroying your home.” With the tapes removed, I unlocked the door
and slowly opened one of the panels. Oh, there! The glass panel opened and to my surprise
the leaf nest detached quite easily without too much fuss — thank goodness! While some brave ants decided to wander out
and escape, I decided not to mind them for now, and focus on the task at hand, moving
as slowly and gently as possible. It seemed to be working. The ants weren’t rushing in a mad panic, but
were strangely standing quite still watching me. First things first. I went in and wiped the glass and the sticky
pads of the piping to improve its suction. Reattaching. There! Pipe reinstalled. One task down. Next, it was time to go into the canopy! I went in carefully and snipped away at excess
leaves. It tripped me out to see the weaver ant nests
so exposed to the outside world for the first time since they were moved in. I had to be extra careful not to touch any
of the main branches or groupings of ants. All it took was one startled ant to hit the
panic button, which would set off the release of thousands of angry weaver ants onto my
body and ultimately out into the ant room. Snip, snip. I placed the clippings on the ground. As these leaves decay, they’d contribute to
the bioactivity of the vivarium. This would also make sure that we keep any
weaver ants still clinging on to these leaves. I could feel some weaver ants crawling on
my neck now but surprisingly not biting me yet. They even crawled up my legs. The weaver ants were now all over the immediate
area and on me. The whole time, I felt like I was performing
a complex medical surgery, with guns pointed at me, ready to fire at any moment. I was holding my breath and made sure to be
unwaveringly present in mind and body. My movements needed to be precise and accurate. Every moment was crucial. My heart was beating loudly in my ears the
whole time. I noticed so many ants were already wandering
out of the terrarium, and it was in that moment that I received my very first bite Ahhhhh! (add reverb effect, we may need to
film this) The Bobbleheads were biting the superworm
housewarming gift, I gave them with such joy and gusto. It wasn’t long before the Bobbleheads had
discovered the two new islands we had prepared for them. It was so awesome to see! Ants traveled across the driftwood bridge
to check out the new territories they could call home. It was moments like this that made ant keeping
just so fulfilling! Ahhh! I brushed the biting ant away. Despite the bite, surprisingly, the majority
of the ants were still calm. I had to keep going and not be bothered by
the pain. I proceeded to carefully remove the dead leaf
nest and rest it onto the floor. Gosh, I had dreamed of removing this hanging
piece for months, I can’t even begin to describe! Now it was time to add the leaf litter. I made sure that every bit of the ground was
covered in this magical medium sauce teaming with bioactive life forms. I proceeded to add the plant. Then, I dumped the Dubia roaches. I threw in the superworms to join the party. And just when I thought everything was complete,
I remembered there was one last suction cup to restick onto the wall to fixate the pipe. But to reach this, I had to open the other
glass door panel. Now, all of the Canopy of Vortexia was exposed
to the outside world. Reaching deeper into the terrarium to restick
the pipe onto the glass, I found myself face to face with the Emerald Empire, just inches
away from my head! And when I thought that I had experienced
the worst part, there came another big surprise. Another bite “AHHH!” While the Bobbleheads were enjoying their
superworm, another battle was happening. Just nearby the Bobbleheads had seized a trespasser. A wandering weaver ant had somehow managed
to set foot on the new island. Of course, there was no hope for the weaver
ant against the Bobbleheads, who pulled at the weaver ant from all sides and mauled it
to death. A second weaver ant had also been unfortunate
enough to land on the island, and the Bobbleheads were quick to capture it. I suppose the weaver ants managed to climb
up into the lighting fixture above Avista and fell down to their demise into the foreign
ant kingdom. There was just no hope for them though, as
they were greatly outnumbered. The Bobbleheads were indeed savage! Arghh! The Emerald Empire was indeed savage! I had to finish up now! I restuck the last piping found on the other
side of Vortexia, and just like that I was done. I had only been bitten twice during the ordeal,
which is not bad! I sealed the tank up and the mission was complete! I was happy to know that it would be months
until the next maintenance visit into the Canopy of Vortexia was due. And just on time, the great typhoons arrived
to cool off the lands! Over the past 4 days, the Bobbleheads had
settled into their new network of triple islands quite nicely. I ended up swapping out the base to one large
shared glass pan for the two smaller islands, as this was much more space-efficient. My dreams of Avista becoming a huge archipelago
of floating islands were coming true. As were my dreams of Vortexia. AC Family, look! It was now a multi-species vivarium. The roaches lived happily in the forest habitat
provided by Vortexia. They occupied the leaf litter, huddled in
spaces within the driftwood, and even were daring enough to climb up into the treetops
and congregate along the screen mesh. Escaped ants were collected one by one by
hand over the passing days and inserted back into Vortexia. The rest were hunted down by the house geckoes
that run loose in the Ant Room. Speaking of hunting, I did also catch the
ants hunting the roaches. Look at this! They caught a huge adult male! I had no idea they could seize prey this big! Or maybe it had already died and they were
opportunistically making use of the carcass? Whatever the case, now that these tree-dominated
territories of Vortexia and Avista were restored anew, and the ants residing in these lands
we created, enjoying upgrades to their homes, it filled my heart with so much joy. One thing’s for sure, I learned today how
intimately connected my ants were to the trees that lived in their territories, how protective
they were of them, and just how much the health and well-being of the ant colonies inherently
depended on the health and well-being of the plants they live with. Isn’t that something we continue to discover
every time we step into these microworlds of our ants, AC Family? That to truly appreciate one organism, one
must understand the bigger picture, understand how its connected to other organisms around
it, and when you do, understand why its important to tend to, clean up, restore, respect, and appreciate the interconnected-ness of
life and the environment in which it is contained. And due to this great interconnection, Mother
Nature has set up, I learned this week, that in caring for life, we inherently care for
ourselves. After a long and successful day, I looked
down at the clippings and dead tree I had collected from our projects. Ordinarily, I would throw these away, but
suddenly an awesome idea came to me, an idea that I felt could completely change and affect
the lives of every creature and terrarium in the entire AC Antiverse! AC Family, it was time to embark on a new
and exciting biological engineering project! AC Family, did you enjoy this week’s episode? Trees are indeed integral parts of some of
our ant colonies. And like last week, this week’s episode is
in part, the AC Team’s collaboration with Mr. Beast, Smarter Everyday, Mark Rober and
thousands of other YouTubers in their quest to plant 20 million trees by January 2020. So, be sure to be part of the team trees movement,
by visiting TeamTrees.org to help out! It only costs $1 per tree. This simple gesture will make such a big difference
globally! Also, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please
be sure to hit the SUBSCRIBE button so you don’t miss out on the epic real-life stories
of the ants and other creatures of the ant room, and don’t forget to hit the like button
every single time including now! If you’re new to the channel, and want to
catch up on all your AntsCanada Lore, feel free to binge watch this complete story line
playlist here, which traces the origins of all the ant colonies of the ant room, so you
can follow their stories and better appreciate how these ant kingdoms came to be, and why
we love them so much! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie
for you here, if you’d like to see some extended play footage of me working within Vortexia,
as well as the aftermath. The new Vortexia is just awesome with all
its new creatures and modifications. Go check it out! And now it’s time for the AC Question of the
Week! Last week we asked: Why do we need to cycle our tank before adding
in our great water beast? Congratulations to 9Hashbrowns who correctly
answered: You have to cycle your tank because if an
animal went inside without cycling it, it would be filled with poison, namely ammonia
from waste. Congratulations 9Hashbrowns, you just won
a free e-book handbook from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week, we
ask: Name one of the bioactive creatures found
in Vortexia. Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could also win a free e-book handbook from our shop! Hope you can subscribe to the channel as we
upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, and
SUBSCRIBE if you enjoyed this video to help us keep making more. It’s ant love forever!

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