It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Questions from those who are just starting or considering getting into the ant keeping hobby. If you’re intimidated or confused by the in-depth posts of the other sections of this forum, feel free to post here, and we'll start from square one!

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SpeciesK
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It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 17784Post SpeciesK
Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:33 pm

I dug up some ant colonies and put them in buckets. Of course they were very upset. In one bucket I put three different colonies thinking the strongest would survive and I would have a strong ant colony. BZZZZZT! All of them died.100% death. One seemed to be a small colony living next to an Altoids container. I had high hopes for that one, they were very small and the colony didn't seem to be very deep. They lived for a couple days, then disappeared... where did they go? they didn't get out... oh well. Another seemed okay but now there are just a few male (I think) nanitics and a few other ants left... too bad.
At the moment I have four potential colonies left. Oh, and on all of the buckets I put alcohol/baby powder from the dirt up to the top, then vaseline in the top inch or so. They smell repulsive from the baby powder and baby vaseline but none are getting out, so far anyway.
One colony (I am guessing Tetramorium because they are small) seems strong enough and they are excavating holes and piling up grains of dirt, and I fed them a few crickets.
One is very weak and I think they probably won't make it because there are not very many but I'm not sure; it is actually a food container I put the dug up colony into and then put that on top of more dirt from their hole, and then that all put into a large bucket just to hold it all; they aren't doing great.
Another colony has dug holes and carry dead ants around and sometimes are active and sometimes not and sometimes eat something and most of the time not; I don't know what to make of them because sometimes they act strong and sometimes weak.
And the fourth one I think is weak because they only have a few ants crawl around; at first they were digging like crazy but now I basically don't see them.
I bought a little can of crickets that you feed to reptiles; they smell really bad, and the crickets look like mutant roaches, but I guess they work. And I put some Starbursts in each for sugar, which basically are just melting instead of being eaten. I also tried little pieces of brownies.
None of the ants are really very interested in the Starbursts or brownies, although they investigated them at first. The crickets are more interesting to them if they show any interest in anything.
The ants, whether they have queens or not, are really interesting to watch. The problem is they are not out walking around all the time on their dirt. And of course there are not many of them and most are decreasing or holding steady at the moment. I bought plastic tubing to connect things together but haven't done anything with it; mostly because I am uncertain if they are going to survive, but also because I am having trouble finding a connector for the tubing that I could glue into the side of a bucket if I wanted to.

My main questions now that I have dug up ants and killed most of them, and the ones I have are various forms of weak, I think:

They are dirt colonies and I don't dare dig any into the dirt, or I will kill more. How can I tell if my ants have a queen?

If they have no queen, and so no eggs or brood, then will they stop eating crickets, or will they eat them anyway?

SpeciesK
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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 17788Post SpeciesK
Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:58 pm

Where I said nanitics I meant alates. You probably figured that out already anyway...
And the small Altoids colony was separate from the three combined ones. They all died anyway, so it doesn't matter.
I wish this wasn't set to prevent you from editing your entries. I like to correct my mistakes...

Oh, also at first I kept the lids on and that made the buckets much too wet, and that is when most of the ants died, but also when they were most angry at being captured, so I didn't want them escaping. Then I remembered about the baby powder and vaseline and the dirt has dried out a lot more. But by then most of the ants had died already.

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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 17831Post Batspiderfish
Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:40 pm

Don't define ants as weak or strong when you are neglecting them. The only information I am gleaming from this is that these ants didn't stand a chance.

There's no way for you to tell if you have a queen without actually seeing it, unless you want to wait the year in hopes that one colony continues to produce workers. Queens are evacuated to the bottom of the nest at the first sign of danger, so you probably did not dig one up.
If you enjoy my expertise and identifications, please do not put wild populations at risk of disease by releasing pet colonies. We are responsible to give our pets the best care we can manage for the rest of their lives.

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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 17833Post Martialis
Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:09 pm

Batspiderfish wrote:
Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:40 pm
Don't define ants as weak or strong when you are neglecting them. The only information I am gleaming from this is that these ants didn't stand a chance.

There's no way for you to tell if you have a queen without actually seeing it, unless you want to wait the year in hopes that one colony continues to produce workers. Queens are evacuated to the bottom of the nest at the first sign of danger, so you probably did not dig one up.
agreed.
Keeper of

Formica sp.

Tetramorium caespitum

Camponotus chromaiodes

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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 17983Post SpeciesK
Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:42 am

I don't know any other way to describe them to other people here than relatively weak or relatively strong, so that is how I will have to describe them. It doesn't sound any better, and probably sounds a lot worse, but I wouldn't say I neglected the ants, all I constantly thought about was the ants and what I should do to help them, but I did mistreat them because I am so ignorant and inexperienced in ant care, and, what I read about and watched videos about theory did not gel as applying until things actually happened. And this is the first I have heard of ant queens evacuating out the bottom when danger comes up, but that makes sense. I have, since then, read of other people digging up a colony and finding several queens that they kept, though that is very unusual and they had unusual ants. I knew it was unlikely that I would happen to pick a place to dig that had a queen, there is only one of her and a lot of area she usually could be. Now that I have tried it, I wouldn't recommend the way I did it to anybody else, but I am glad I did my experiment and saw for myself. I might have a queen in one colony because they act (to me) more normal. When I dug them up they seemed to be smaller than I thought in volume, so possibly I lucked out getting a new colony not far underground. And if they are just a bunch of worker ants, they still are giving me a LOT of pleasure to watch, an _amazing_ amount of pleasure to watch. And pain that I did not do things perfectly for the ants...

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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 18016Post Geffbro
Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:28 am

First of all, you are leaving a paper trail for the police to find when you eventually become a serial killer, because I'm hearing some psychopathic stuff in here. Aside from that, i remember watching a video about an abandoned ant nest they filled with concrete and excavated, and it was craaaaazy huge. A mere human digging at the surface could easily not come close to getting an entire nest depending on how large it is, so there's an unknown but probably high chance that a queen would be somewhere other than where you dug!

So to find a queen you need to be a moleman, luck out and find a tiny nest to dig up, or find a queen on the surface during nuptual flights.

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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 18020Post SpeciesK
Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:15 am

Gee thanks! It's interesting that when you read about antkeeping, you think about concerns with police trails and serial killing. Could be you have something to hide? Run! I think I hear sirens coming for you! Ah hahaha!
So I don't know as much about ants as everyone else seems to think they do. I haven't tried to hide that fact. Some people apparently are born knowing about ants and assume everybody else knows all about ants. I am not one of them. I am learning as I go along. I have met zero people in my life that would consider ants anything but something to immediately spray with bugkiller. So I am starting at zero knowledge.
Oh no! I hear them coming for you! [*sirens wail as spotlights fall on you*]
:lol:

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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 18029Post Batspiderfish
Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:21 am

SpeciesK wrote:
Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:15 am
Gee thanks! It's interesting that when you read about antkeeping, you think about concerns with police trails and serial killing. Could be you have something to hide? Run! I think I hear sirens coming for you! Ah hahaha!
So I don't know as much about ants as everyone else seems to think they do. I haven't tried to hide that fact. Some people apparently are born knowing about ants and assume everybody else knows all about ants. I am not one of them. I am learning as I go along. I have met zero people in my life that would consider ants anything but something to immediately spray with bugkiller. So I am starting at zero knowledge.
Oh no! I hear them coming for you! [*sirens wail as spotlights fall on you*]
:lol:
I would suggest reading what other people are doing with their ants. One of the golden rules is never keep two colonies in the same container. You should wait until finding a queen later this year, after a nuptial flight, which will be a much more controllable situation.
If you enjoy my expertise and identifications, please do not put wild populations at risk of disease by releasing pet colonies. We are responsible to give our pets the best care we can manage for the rest of their lives.

SpeciesK
Posts: 119
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Location: Right Here--------v

Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 18190Post SpeciesK
Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:59 am

I found the queen! She is all dusty translucent camouflage brown and not shiny like a glass/acrylic formicarium raised queen, but I have one! Now as long as I don't manage to lose or kill them then everything will be okay! I am calling them Pheidole bonum, the Good Bigheaded Ants! It doesn't much matter what they really are. The Good Ants are excellent ants! :mrgreen:

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Re: It's not recommened to dig up ants but I have... How can I tell if ants have a queen or not?

Post: # 18213Post Canadiananter
Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:34 pm

You did keep workers, right?

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