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The Woods Upcoming Project: Making Strides

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

We have a wonderful update to share with you, PA Woods and Forests Community; we have made incredible strides with the creatures featured in this project. We have updates about the American toads, wood frogs, canyon isopod colony, greenhouse, and the upcoming carpenter ant colony. We have many important topics to cover and many pictures, so let's get started.

Pictured above is an ant colony from Tar Heel Ants. Mack Pridgen shared this image. He showcased the Camponotus chromaiodes, or "rusty red carpenter ants," which; is a common nickname for this species. We have been in talks with Tar Heel Ants for a few months now, and we are getting ready in the next few weeks to welcome a new colony of these rusty red ants to the PA Woods and Forests Community. We have been making last-second adjustments in preparation for the predecessors of the Laurel Highlanders (late carpenter ant colony). We are very excited to see the personality of this new colony, and we are eager to start the process of growing the ant colony. They can feed on inverts already according to Mack, so we will have some fascinating opportunities to showcase the workers feeding on dead inverts. This species was hand-picked by AAron because of the beautiful coloration of black and red, and because these ants are native to Pennsylvania and could have been prey items for the toads and wood frogs when they were still wild.

We might be willing to invest in a second colony, and it would likely be a different species of carpenter ant. There are some colorful species, and the pennsylvanicus carpenter ants are also possible.

Check out Tar Heel Ants for ants and accessories:

Our canyon isopod colony is finally together with the new members we purchased from Josh's Frogs joining this four-year-old colony; We hope to keep growing the isopod colony with new and unrelated specimens. The isopods are in a plastic bin with moss, cork bark flats, and hides. The soil is deep in many areas and, these isopods are one of the favorite meals for the four frogs and toads. The great thing about these isopods is they eat what the crickets eat, meaning the gutload we use, but they also eat the crickets that have the gutload in their system after dying. The isopods will have the opportunity to eat dead crickets and carpenter ants when they die and are of no use to the frogs. We are trying to introduce the isopods to plants and moss that they will see in the enclosure, and then know where to take cover once placed in the upcoming habitat. As we said before, these isopods are not just feeders for the amphibians. Just like the ants, they are pets and respected by all of us in the PA Woods and Forests Crew.

The isopod colony is finished, except for adding plants, new members to the colony, and; working to grow the colony in numbers. We are estimating around one thousand isopods are in the colony currently. We have very far to go for the impressive ten thousand member colony we are hoping to create. The isopods are succeeding in their new home and love being in the greenhouse.

Check out the feeder inverts for frogs and toads at Josh's Frogs:

The plants are thriving in the greenhouse! We recently added bare-root plants like Black-eyed susan, New York fern, and sensitive fern. The three plants are in the middle section of the pictures in the pots. The sphagnum moss, dewberry, and cranberry are all thriving. The pitcher plant in the images above is not joining the rest of these plants in the upcoming enclosure build because it will be used for a different enclosure in the Wild Vivariums Show when the updates happen for the gray tree frog enclosure. The smaller plants to the left of the black-eyed susan are a bog violet and Philadelphia fleabane. These are just a few plants we have waiting for the 225-gallon Pennsylvania vivarium construction. Another plant in the greenhouse is a hybrid blueberry bush, "Top hat blueberry." As we said before, we are hoping to grow berries in-situ to benefit the invertebrates living in the habitat. We are talking with the Carnivorous Plant Nursery to get a few more plants, like more dewberries and cranberries. We are also excited for the flagship plant for the 225-gallon enclosure, the albino northern purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea heterodoxa). This pitcher plant is one of the most anticipated plants. This pitcher plant is all green and is found in nature in Pennsylvania but is more uncommon.

The pitcher plant will be fascinating to observe. Will we be able to get it to flower in the enclosure? How many inverts will it eat, and will it compete aggressively with the frogs and toads? What will the plant do when the conditions change? Many fascinating questions await.

Check out Carnivorous Plant Nursery:

We have fantastic news! Both the wood frogs and the toads tested negative for parasites! We have one fecal more test for both groups, and if we have a third negative, then; we can put together Ace, Pious, Esther, and Oracle. All four anurans have slowed down because of the cold wintery conditions. Esther has burrowed down and is sleeping (not brumating) in the soil somewhere in the wood frog enclosure. Pious is doing nearly the same thing, but he comes up after the enclosure gets sprayed and food is available in the toad enclosure. Ace is not interested in crickets as much: and she prefers slower moving prey like isopods, waxworms, and hornworms, among other feeders. Oracle is still active, but he is not interested in crickets either. If we drop the prey in front of him, he eats, but he has stopped hunting prey.

We are not worried because this happens every winter. We are very excited for the project to be moving forward because it means both pairs of animals will have an incredible home. It may be easier in the large enclosure to use slower-moving prey and entice the frogs and toads to eat more.

We are excited to be working on a new YouTube series that will provide updates and documentation of major events happening in the building stages of this project. One of the next steps is to begin filming this new series to tailgate for the upcoming docu-series. The GoPro a6300 and Pocket 6K are ready for filming. We have so many exciting updates involving the progress of this project. We are very thankful for sponsors and supporters of this project like the three businesses mentioned above, and the other sponsors and supporters still to be individually named.

Make sure you keep checking in for more exciting updates!

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