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Space requirements

 :: Bugs N Stuff :: Ants

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Space requirements

Post by Blake on Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:30 am

Hi guys and gals,

I am looking to start keeping ants and was hoping for some advice with regards to my plans for the habitat, and in particular the space they will need.
I have been looking at various "farms" online and frankly none of them cut it for me. I want something natural with plenty of foraging space and no tubes running around the place.
The upshot is that I have decided to build my own habitat for them as I am quite a skilled bodger (modest too!)

What I can't seem to find out is how far apart the walls of the farm should be. I would have thought this was a key dimension, but I can't seem to find anything on this.
Obviously I want to restrict the volume of the farm to encourage them to tunnel down the walls for visibility, but I don't want to make them uncomfortable.

I am thinking of starting with Lasius Niger as everyone seems to say they are a good place to start.

Blake

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Re: Space requirements

Post by Guest on Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:51 am

Hi Blake.

Welcome to Dermy's Bug Forum.

My favourite ants are Lasius Niger. I'd make the gap about 1- 1.5 cm in width. I have an ant farm with Lasius Niger in and that gap seems to be fine. Smile

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Re: Space requirements

Post by dermy on Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:10 pm

Hello Blake! Welcome to The Forum!
A few things I'd like to ask:

1- Will you be getting queens from the Nuptial Flights [long ways away sad ] or Buying them?
2- Lasius niger seems to be the "Go-To" Ant for Beginners, but I've never had any experience with them. I've heard they are pretty easy to get on with though.
3-The size of gap would depend on the type of ants, I wouldn't use a 1" gap for Carpenter ants as the queen might get stuck trying to move around. But since you've stated your going for Lasius niger, that shouldn't be a problem at 1" gap. Don't feel too bad if they cover the glass or when the colony gets larger "swarming the queen" [my ants do this and I don't even use substrate they do it to protect the queen since she is the most important member of the Colony and lays all the eggs]
4-Foraging space isn't an issue if you connect the Nest to a Foraging tank. It doesn't have to be a tank, can be a simple container as long as the tubing you use fits snug into a hole made in the material and there is not big gaps for ants to get out [Lasius niger are notorious for being Naughty ants and finding a way out of tiny holes, especially in younger colonies where the workers are smaller then later generations] As long as you keep it escape proof you won't have any problems, until they get bigger but by then I'd suggest adding another larger Foraging Tank to the Colony.

Feel free to ask more questions I'll help anyway I can!
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Re: Space requirements

Post by Blake on Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:00 am

Thanks, glad to be here!
Found my way over from your site Myrm, got to say I enjoyed reading it.

As for Dermy's list (gotta love lists):

1. I will be buying a queen and workers from an online store. While we have AMAZING swarms here, I am just not patient enough to wait another 9 months!
2. Seems to be what people are saying. I have not kept ants before, mainly going on recommendations of people like Myrm.
3. Makes sense that the gap needs to be big enough for the largest member to turn all the way around with some room around her.
4. I really want to avoid having connected parts. I am a bit of a perfectionist at times and really don't want to settle for tubes and tupperware. My design is for single unit made of fiberboard and clear acrylic with a large foraging box on top and a 3-sided nest space below. This way they can forage above the nest and a cover can be placed over the front to keep it dark. I am designing it in sketchup at the moment and will be posting the design to Instructables when it is done.

Talking of escaping, would L. Niger dig through fiberboard?
Rather than build a complete tank out of acrylic I was hoping to make the back walls out of wood with plastic sheet bonded to it for waterproofing.
I figure they would rather dig the substrate for their tunnels than dig through solid wood, but if not I will make it a double wall of acrylic.

I'm sure this all sounds a bit excessive, but that's me I'm afraid!

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Re: Space requirements

Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2014 6:55 am

Hi Blake.

I'm glad you found your way here from my site. Dermy is an awesome friend of mine and so I'm trying to get his forum recognised out there as he rely does try his vary best to get this forum out there. Smile

I'm pleased to hear that my web site has been of use to you. Smile

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Re: Space requirements

Post by dermy on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:31 am

Blake wrote:Thanks, glad to be here!
Found my way over from your site Myrm, got to say I enjoyed reading it.

As for Dermy's list (gotta love lists):

1. I will be buying a queen and workers from an online store. While we have AMAZING swarms here, I am just not patient enough to wait another 9 months!
2. Seems to be what people are saying. I have not kept ants before, mainly going on recommendations of people like Myrm.
3. Makes sense that the gap needs to be big enough for the largest member to turn all the way around with some room around her.
4. I really want to avoid having connected parts. I am a bit of a perfectionist at times and really don't want to settle for tubes and tupperware. My design is for single unit made of fiberboard and clear acrylic with a large foraging box on top and a 3-sided nest space below. This way they can forage above the nest and a cover can be placed over the front to keep it dark. I am designing it in sketchup at the moment and will be posting the design to Instructables when it is done.

Talking of escaping, would L. Niger dig through fiberboard?
Rather than build a complete tank out of acrylic I was hoping to make the back walls out of wood with plastic sheet bonded to it for waterproofing.
I figure they would rather dig the substrate for their tunnels than dig through solid wood, but if not I will make it a double wall of acrylic.

I'm sure this all sounds a bit excessive, but that's me I'm afraid!

Hi Blake, you don't need an Out-world it just helps with maintence. If you plan on feeding on the soil, I recommend putting it on a plastic cup or lid of some sort or mould will quickly grow and stuff like that isn't good for the ants.

I don't know enough about Lasius niger to know if they'd dig through Fiberboard, since they do not occur here in Canada. Myrm might now more on that. If it was Carpenter ants then I'd be more worried, but as long as their needs are met they shouldn't bother with the wood.

Your current "design" seems a lot like Myrm's designs where he puts a black garbage bag around the nest so it's dark but keeps the surface light for a feeding area.

Good Luck with the Colony when you get it!
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