Discuss keeping ants in here. Including what to feed them, hydration, development, disease and everything in between.
New members should post your questions in here.
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By Jacob Beddow
#23744
Hello all !

Back in june of this year, i ordered my first queen ant ! A lasius niger queen, native to my country, england. Ever since she arrived i have had her in a test tube inside of a box with a thin amount of boiled dirt substrate and another test tube that i fill with water. Vaseline on the sides of the box of course to prevent escapes. Since i got her i have probably gained around 30 ish workers. I feed them all Jelly protein and honey. Sometimes i throw in the occasional bug i find too and a tiny amount of various fruits.
I have a small acrylic nest, but have not moved them into it yet.

1: When shall i move them into the nest and how?

2: How fast can i expect the colony to grow? so far it doesn't seem very fast, and with winter dawning the colony will be hibernating. Is this a normal growth rate or am i doing something wrong here?

Thanks in advance!

-jacob
User avatar
By Serafine
#23746
Jacob Beddow wrote:1: When shall i move them into the nest and how?

Not before hibernation. During hibernation humidity is of major importance and test tubes are much better at keeping humidity than nests are (this is especially true if you keep them in the fridge).

Jacob Beddow wrote:2: How fast can i expect the colony to grow? so far it doesn't seem very fast, and with winter dawning the colony will be hibernating. Is this a normal growth rate or am i doing something wrong here?

Growth rate is different for each queen, some grow faster than others - on Formiculture there's a Tetramorium journal of some guy . all queens caught in the same area at the same day, after 2 months 2 were dead, 1 had pupae and larvae, 1 had 4 workers and one had 30+ workers.

Around 30 workers sounds fine. Lasius niger can grow very fast, they can reach 1000+ workers before the end of year 2 (and they can grow to a massive size of up to 50000 workers over the years).

I caught one in August, it has around 50+ workers and a ton of brood (and doesn't want to hibernate :-/ ).
Image

For food I recommend fruit flies, small spiders (they're a delicacy!) and also some sugar water or maple syrup (in addition to the honey). You can also try different fruits (apples, strawberries, raspberries - just make sure they're not poisoned), fish flakes, red mosquito larvae (fish food) and shrimps.
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By Antlove4ever
#24955
Hello Jacob!

Good job for keeping them in the dark and protecting them from getting out! This is the first rookie mistake most first timers make (to be honest i almost let a whole colony of wood ants out last week so your already one step ahead ;-))

Anyway, the colony will grow very slowly so you will have to be patient for a couple years. It will get to be about the size of a large test tube in a year if you’re lucky, so this hobby requires a lot of resilience. It really depends on the Queen, every experience of the same species is different, so you’ll have to wait and see.

You’re doing the right thing by asking when to move them into a formicarium (nest / habitat) because this is a very important stage in an ant keepers journey. I would recommend when they are pretty cramped into the test tube. This would be up to 2.5 years after the founding stages, so you’ll have plenty of time to do some research into the right formicarium. These can be fairly pricey once they get into the larger ones, but I use ytong habitats because they are strong and can be used for multiple different species. I would start off using ones with 1 or 2 chambers in them to start off with, gradually building up as they start to grow in size. To move them out of the test tube, you can purchase a low heat wire (used for reptiles) and secure it around the end of the test tube. They will gradually move away from the heat. Move the wire again down the tube and do this until they are out the tube. Hope this helps :-)

Kind regards
-Ella
(AntLove4Ever <3)
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