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What is the Best Beginner Species?

 :: Bugs N Stuff :: Ants

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What is the Best Beginner Species?

Post by dermy on Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:56 pm

                                 Tutorial#1- What is the Best Beginner Species?                                                        

There are many different ant species that can be kept in Captivity, but some aren't as easy to care for then others. Here I will discuss a few ant species that I feel are good for beginners, some aren't available everywhere so bear with me.
 
Lasius niger
This is the most common starter species for most ant keepers in the United Kingdom, sadly they don't occur in Canada so I don't know much about them, all I really know is that they are very hardy, good starter species for anyone wanting to get into the hobby. Very large, and some would say very Naughty Smile.
They are black and have very large queens compared to workers. They are prolific and colonies can get very large, often 10 000 workers are in one colony all from the one single queen, although in captivity they need lots of space and food to reach this, usually a few thousand is a good guess as to how large a normal colony can get.

Camponatus sp. 
These are very large ants, the queens usually fly in the early spring, usually May around me. They are almost everywhere in North America. The starter species status of this ant is debatable, some say they are great starter species, where-as others [including me!] don't think so, I've had very crumby experiences getting them to first workers and beyond. Yet some get 1000's in a colony. These are a good species to at least try, since they are abundant enough! They require multiple nests [they make sati-light nests in nature] and have one super huge queen and an awesome caste system, which includes major and sometimes even Super Majors! There colonies reach about the same as Lasius niger, a couple thousand isn't uncommon in the first 4-5 yrs of growth, Although the first few years are rather slow, and don't expect majors in the first season, or even the 2nd season!

Myrmica sp.
These are everywhere, I haven't met anyone yet who hasn't said that these make good starter ants! They do pose a sting in some species, but it doesn't hurt too bad. They make colonies with multiple queens [polygamy] and often get a lot less workers then other species, but reach the full size faster then Carpenter ants. They seem to have big boosts in brood in some species, especially Rubra, they like to have "batches" of eggs so don't be surprised if they don't lay for some time and all of a sudden explode with eggs! The one thing I like about these is their adaptability, they will nest in almost anything! That and the fact mine seem to take almost anything from me! They will give almost anything a try [even if it can kill them sad like what happened to mine earlier in the season, I lost 50% of my population because of it sad ]
I don't know much about when they fly but from what I've read July-September and even as late as October is common. The queens are much smaller then carpenter ants or Lasius species but if you find them they are usually quite prolific. I have a colony right now that has 7 queens! Very Happy

Formica sp.
Formica species are a lot like Lasius niger, some are even black like them, only thing is that some are Polygamy where-as Lasius niger is strictly Monogamy [meaning only one queen rules the roost!]. I like Formica, they are large and yet they are skittish! It's cool to see such a big ant queen run like mad when you disturb them. The fact that they are later fliers then most makes them a last resort species [for someone starting later on in the season this is great species to collect,] only problem is that they require hibernation before they will start laying eggs. Most species fly around August, September or even as late as October. I just caught a few queens about 1 month ago, they are in hibernation. Can't wait to wake one up in about another month or two! Formica colonies grow to about a few thousand in the more common ones, to up to 100 queens and 100 000 in a species commonly called Wood Ants, Formica rufra, which fly in June, and I've heard are hard to keep because of the size of the colonies.

So that's just the few species I know that are good for beginners, if you want to add anything feel free to comment below!


Last edited by dermy on Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: What is the Best Beginner Species?

Post by Luke on Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:17 am

Very good, informative post Dermy for people collecting their first queen(s)

You should sticky this or maybe put the tutorials in a subsection in the Ant section. That'll teach me for not looking properly, noticed that it already is stickied Embarassed

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Re: What is the Best Beginner Species?

Post by Guest on Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:10 am

I agree with Luke. This is certainly worthy of being a sticky.

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Re: What is the Best Beginner Species?

Post by dermy on Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:58 pm

Okay I will sticky it and maybe more people can add their expertise to the mix.
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