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First post.... lots of questions probably!

 :: Bugs N Stuff :: Ants

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First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Mon Apr 20, 2015 2:54 am

Hi all, first post and a total novice so please bear with me!

I have just purchased this ant farm from Antstore in Germany and have followed Myrm's instructions as to how to set everything up. I purchased a queen and about 10 workers.

I have done exactly what was suggested and am now about 4 days in. However, the queen has not left the test tube (which is in the foraging tank) and the ants have built her a nest into the tube. Bit worried as I just read that once a queen is in her nest she rarely moves out of it. None of the ants seem to want to venture into the nesting area so I'm wondering how a nest will be established in there?

A few of the ants have ventured about halfway up the tube but then always seem to turn back, I'm assuming the steepness of the tube should not be a problem?

I was wondering if, once I'm sure all the ants are in the tube, I should attach the tube directly to the nesting tank (I'm not sure that's what it's called!) so they have no choice but to enter it and start nesting there? Or do I just need to be more patient and hope they eventually migrate?

Many thanks, look forward to using this forum and hopefully one day being able to answer other peoples questions!

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:17 am

Hi Swishtony, and welcome to the Bug Forum. A big thank you from me for supporting my awesome buddy, Dermy in getting his forum as active as possible.


What species of ant did you get?

First let me reassure you that it is perfectly normal for your ants to be displaying the behaviour they are currently doing. Chances are they have spent their whole lives (the queen post-flight) inn that test tube and so consider it as home. Therefore they may seem reluctant move out.

My biggest bit of advice to you is not to try and force them out. Instead allow them to leave at their own chosen time.

I have several similar ant farms and I normally attach the test tube directly onto one of the ports on the sides of the ant farm. You have to be careful though as the weight of the test tube can try and drag the end of the tube down so it has to be secure. Failing that just leave the opened tube in the foraging box of the set up. They will eventually get bolder and go exploring.

To help the ants gain access to the tube from the foraging box I put a small piece of brick (anything will do) with a disposable nail file (like the ones women use on their finger nails) which acts like a slope going up to the tube.

If you watch this video clip of mine you'll see what I mean:



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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by dermy on Mon Apr 20, 2015 3:25 pm

swishtony wrote:Hi all, first post and a total novice so please bear with me!

I have just purchased this ant farm from Antstore in Germany and have followed Myrm's instructions as to how to set everything up. I purchased a queen and about 10 workers.

I have done exactly what was suggested and am now about 4 days in. However, the queen has not left the test tube (which is in the foraging tank) and the ants have built her a nest into the tube. Bit worried as I just read that once a queen is in her nest she rarely moves out of it. None of the ants seem to want to venture into the nesting area so I'm wondering how a nest will be established in there?

A few of the ants have ventured about halfway up the tube but then always seem to turn back, I'm assuming the steepness of the tube should not be a problem?

I was wondering if, once I'm sure all the ants are in the tube, I should attach the tube directly to the nesting tank (I'm not sure that's what it's called!) so they have no choice but to enter it and start nesting there? Or do I just need to be more patient and hope they eventually migrate?

Many thanks, look forward to using this forum and hopefully one day being able to answer other peoples questions!

Hello welcome to the forum Swishtony!

As myrm has said it is normal for them not to move for the first few days or even weeks. They will move when they are ready to move. What I'd suggest is to just leave them alone [don't try moving them yourself because that can stress out a colony which isn't good] As you've said Patience is a must in Ant Keeping, soon you'll be busy feeding them and watching the colony grow right before your eyes. Now is the perfect time to learn more about ants and how to take care of them.

May I ask what species you got? That can really determine how long they take to grow and when they might want to move [some are really stubborn and like their tubes until they are just full of ants, others magically move over-night sometime]

Just make sure you feed them and make the nest moist and they should move in about a week or two.


Good Luck with the Ant Colony!

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:43 am

Thanks for the useful replies! I have the Lasius Niger on recommendations from here and other sources, seems the best choice for starting out.

Can I at this stage over feed them? I have mainly fed them the dried insects that came with the kit and I've topped this up a few times in the last 5 days now.

Seems to be plenty of water left in the bottom of the test tube behind the plug of cotton wool. What do I do once that water runs out? I do have a water thingy in the foraging area so presumably the ants will find that if they need it?

I can't actually see what they are up to as I put some masking tape over the middle part of the test tube where the nest was being built to maintain some darkness, don't really want to remove it now as it might send them into shock or something. Annoying as I'd love to kn0ow what they are up to!

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:06 am

Yay Lasius Niger! My vary favourite species. Very Happy

No, it's not possible to over feed them. What they don't need/want they won't eat.

If you have water available in the foraging area then you'll have no worries if the water behind the cotton wool bung runs out.

They won't want you to know what they are up to as these ants are always up to no good. I should call them Cotton ants Razz

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:08 am

Why, do they start eating the cotton wool in the test tube?!

Yeah just going to try and be patient now and let them do their thing. So how do they migrate to a new nest? Will soldiers go off and start a new nest then the queen moves? Or do they find somewhere and she goes and digs it? I'm kinda surprised that they will move as I'm sure I read somewhere that the queen, once in a nest, will not venture out from darkness?

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:19 am

Lasius Niger do not have a soldier caste. The workers will be the ones that go out looking for a suitable nesting site and will move everybody in once they have finished.

They don't eat the cotton wool, but you may see them pulling at it to make nesting material.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by dermy on Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:15 pm

I don't know much about Lasius niger but what I've seen is people have colonies that are 20+ Workers and they still don't move readily.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:54 am

Hmm.... so what happens, they eventually do move themselves or maybe need some gentle encouragement?

From what I can make out I only have 2 workers now but there seem to be quite a few tending the queen and the nest, maybe 10 or so.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:04 am

They will move themselves when they are ready.

Most of the ants will stay in the next to tend to the queen and brood. Smile

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by dermy on Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:45 am

You can help them by making the new nest moist, and dark while allowing light into the tube, but I don't know if it will work for Lasius as well as Myrmica.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:46 am

It should work just as well, Dermy. Lasius Niger prefer it damp than dry. Smile

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by dermy on Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:48 am

Ah okay, I didn't know I thought they'd be stubborn and just stay in the old nest because it was "home" I've had ants like that. All you gotta do is wait it out!

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Wed Apr 22, 2015 4:57 pm

Thanks again for the input you two! The nesting area is nice and damp, I wetted the sand pretty well before attaching the tube etc. Does the nesting area dry out quickly or will it stay damp for ages as not a lot of air gets to it? If it does dry out I presume I will need to keep it damp somehow?

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by dermy on Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:17 pm

Do you have a way to add more water to the nesting area? If so just add some water when it looks drier but don't let it get bone dry.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Wed May 06, 2015 1:31 am

Hmmmm.... not sure things are going to plan! Still not moved out of test tube and I'm pretty sure the water is drying up in there but cannot see as there is a sticker over that area. Don't really want to be picking up and moving the tube as I might distress the ants? I don't even know if the queen is still alive.

There seem to be 4 or 5 workers foraging for food but they now seem to be using the food as nesting material! Is this normal?

Also they have been venturing into the nesting box to look around but not really done much in there, I've noticed a small amount of the sand has been disturbed and stuck up against the side of the glass but no signs of actually starting to dig a nest. I'm wondering if the sand was too wet for them? I did make it pretty wet but did follow the instructions on how much water to add.

Any more thoughts? Thanks!


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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by dermy on Wed May 06, 2015 10:43 am

If for whatever reason the testube runs dry, maybe add a fresh new one [I know you want them to move but sometimes moving them into a new test-tube helps, since I'd rather have one in a test-tube then dead.]

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Wed May 06, 2015 4:11 pm

Thanks, had a look today as was worried about the queen, she's alive and kicking and there is plenty of water left in the test tube.

Any thoughts on my other questions from my last post? About the wetness of the sand and the nest material/food?

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Thu May 07, 2015 1:29 am

Hi
 
Lasius niger seem to prefer damp nests, however, as long as it’s not waterlogged.  How much water did you put in?  The soil/sand needs to be slightly damp to the touch but you don’t want it so that when you lightly touch the sand/soil, your finger comes away wet.  You don’t want any puddles left over once the water has seeped in.  Getting it just right is something that takes practice.  If you are worried that you have put too much water in, and the ants are not accessing the nesting box right now then you can always remove the lid for a couple of days to allow some of it to dry out.  You’ll find that because the colony is so small they may not wish to move out of the tube yet, but as time goes on and the colony grows then they will start looking for a new nest.
 
You mention food being used as nesting material.  What food are they using for this purpose?  What exactly are they doing with it that makes you think they are using it as nesting material?
 
The fact that they are putting sand up against the sides of the test tube and may be blocking the entrance to the tube with it, is perfectly normal.
 
Picking the test tube up should not stress the ants too much as long as you are gentle; no sudden or quick movements.  Is the tube in the foraging area or is it attached to the side of the nesting box

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Thu May 07, 2015 1:49 am

Many thanks for the reply. From what you describe I think the sand is fine, it's damp but not soaking wet.

Yes the food.... Had two little tubes of dried insects delivered with the kit I bought. They have eaten loads of it but with some of the bigger bits they have used them to block themselves into the test tube. But worried that it might go mouldy?

The test tube is in the foraging box where I have put some honey water and dried insects and the water thingy. The honey doesn't seem to interest them much but the insect food goes quickly! a few workers do seem quite busy every time food is around but as I say they seem less keen eating it and more keen to use it for nesting!

The workers have also regularly ventured up the tube into the nesting area and had a good look about and shifted some sand around but not really started to dig anything yet. As I mentioned before they have shifted grains onto a small patch on the side of the glass, about a square inch of the side of the nesting area is now covered with sand.

Thanks again for the replies people!

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Thu May 07, 2015 2:26 am

The only proplem with dried insects as food for ants is that adult ants do not eat solids.  There are some species exceptions but not with Lasius niger.  Most adult ants require a “liquid” diet.  By this I mean not necessarily a water-like substance but as in freshly killed insects with their gooey insides.  This may be why the ants are using the dried husks of insects as building material rather than food.
 
Another awesome stuff you can use is reptile protein jelly which you can get in most pet stores.  It is a protein jelly used to feed reptiles, and it is ideal for ants (queens, adults, larvae etc). If you want I can send you a tub if you can’t find any.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by swishtony on Thu May 07, 2015 2:46 am

Thanks again, I will try and find some of that jelly today. Can I just go kill an insect and chuck it in or do I need to prepare it in some way?

I wonder why they sent me that stuff if the ants can't eat it! They do not seem to be touching the honey which surprised me. I've only fed them the insects as they seemed to go for that a lot, they must be starving as that is all I've given them!!

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Thu May 07, 2015 6:19 am

Yes, you can just go kill an insect and give it to the ants.  There’s no need to prepare it.  Some people will tell you to freeze it or boil it before you give it to the ants because of “microbes” or “germs”, but this is absolute rubbish.  You don’t see ants in the wild freezing or boiling their food before they eat it.  Just crush the insect and give it to your ants.  My ants love crickets, wax-worms, moths, mealworm, bettles and those big fat slow moving flies that often come into houses in the summer.  Obviously don’t kill the insects with fly spray or anything like that.
 
Many companies that sell ant farms and stuff really do not know much about ants and just assume ants will eat the things they sell.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by dermy on Thu May 07, 2015 6:40 am

Thanks for the help Myrm you know far more then me! I agree with gooey insects I often find my colonies love to eat it and even dismiss other liquids when it is around.

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Re: First post.... lots of questions probably!

Post by Guest on Thu May 07, 2015 6:41 am

No proplem Dermy Smile

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