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I live in Hong Kong. Typhoon Hato hit yesterday and a whole bunch of Carebara queens decided to take their nuptial flight. I caught close to 20 of them within 15 minutes.

I'm pretty sure they are Carebara affinis, though they can also be Carebara diversa. They are also known by their old names Pheidologeton affinis and P. diversus, respectively.

In any case, I have read from multiple places that both Carebara affinis and Carebara diversa are polygyne, which means they can found a large colony with multiple egg-laying queens.

So I decided to temporarily put them into the same lunch-box-sized plastic container.

However, soon after I put them into the same container, I discover that some of them would get their legs and even their antennae bitten off. I thought maybe it's because they found the container too crowded and wanted to eliminate some competitors, so I added two layers of toilet paper to give them more surface to crawl around. That didn't really help. Tonight, after coming home from work, I found most of them have been completely amputated. They aren't dead yet though; they are just left there wiggling around without legs. A few of the queens come out intact so I suppose they are somehow dominant. The ones who get amputated tend to end up in a pile. I'm not sure if the "dominant" queens decided to drag them and pile them together.

Is that at all normal? Is that how Carebara ants start a polygyne colony? Basically one or a few dominant queens amputating their sisters to turn them into egg-laying slaves of some sort? If the dominant queens wanted to kill the weaker ones, why not bite their heads off? I'm pretty sure they had the jaw strength if they wanted to. So, supposing that the amputated queens do survive, I'm not sure I see how that helps in the evolutionary sense. Unless that's actually how it works: one or a few dominant ones amputating weaker ones to force them to lay eggs together?

Does anybody know how to properly start a polygyne Carebara diversa or affinis colony from scratch?

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I don't know about their polygyne nature, but carebara diversa queens are between 20-25mm and carebara affinis queens are between 14-16mm and are slightly lighter in colour. Hopefully that should help you identify them.

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They are not polygynous, they just participate in pleometrosis. This means a colony is founded by multiple queens. The workers select a "dominant" queen and execute the others, so after a short time the colony has only one queen.

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