Noob hibernation questions

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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yaktriangle
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:45 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54246Post yaktriangle
Fri Nov 30, 2018 3:02 am

Hi all.

Firstly, I just wanted to say what a great community this is. I am very new here but have been met with a very friendly welcome to my noob questions so thank you for that. :)

I have been reading about hibernation and think this is something my son's ants should be doing right now. We have a small test tube colony of Lasius Niger and live in the south UK. We are well and truly into winter now and these ants would be hibernating if they were in the wild. From what I have read on this forum already, we should be hibernating our captive colony too.

I understand they need to be kept in a cold place (e.g. - fridge or outside garage) but would sub-zero temps bother the ants? While much of the UK winter can be mild, we do still get the occasional, good old fashioned freezing conditions and I would never forgive myself if I froze the colony to death. I guess ants in the wild just go deep underground where the freeze won't reach them? :?:

Whilst hibernating, will they still need much or any food? And lastly, would it also be best to keep them covered and in the dark during hibernation time?

Many thanks in advance.

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UnrealSparks
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:45 pm
Location: Turin

Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54265Post UnrealSparks
Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:22 am

Hello there! :)
I'm glad you are enjoying the community! It's full of friendly folks here! :D

Lasius Niger should already be in hibernation right now (it doesn't matter if the colony is captive or in the wild, they tend to start hibernating from the end of October to late February/early March).

No worries though, you still have time to hibernate them. As you said, in nature they dig deep to avoid sub-zero temperatures because those are indeed lethal to them. The best temperature range to keep them is 5 to 10 °C (I'm currently keeping mine at around 7 °C and they're doing ok).

In this resting period the only thing they require is moisture (no food is required) and yes, they need to rest in a safe, dark and quiet place.

Oh, and if you're going to hibernate them, don't put them directly for example in the fridge, lower the temperature gradually to avoid shocks.
Keeping the following species:

- Messor Barbarus
- Pheidole Pallidula
- Camponotus Barbaricus
- Lasius Niger
- Lasius Flavus
- Lasius Emarginatus

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antnest8
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Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54295Post antnest8
Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:57 am

I have have had this problem also before. If you have a cooler basement try putting them in there for now. sometimes all ants need are below average temperatures even though it would be better to put them in 40-50 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. another good place could be crawl space of yours. that should stay warm enough I think. good luck!
keeper of
3 tetremorium queens
2 C. pennsylvanicus
1 C novaeboracensis
1 tapinoma sessile colony
!!And A CREMATOGASTER QUEEN!!

yaktriangle
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:45 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54348Post yaktriangle
Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:35 am

Many thanks for the advice guys. :)

We have a loft space which gets pretty cold but won't freeze, although I'm not sure exactly how cold it gets ... I have a thermometer so may see how it's looking. The other alternative would be the fridge if the loft wasn't cold enough but we could go to the loft first for a week and then move them to the fridge to give the ants a more gradual introduction to cooler temps - the loft will fluctuate a little with the daily house temperature.

I'll let you know how it goes.

yaktriangle
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:45 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54364Post yaktriangle
Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:06 am

So after spending some time measuring temps it looks like our loft space won't be cool enough - it measured around 14 degrees C. We have two fridges and both of those sit at around 4 degrees. So I think a fridge is our only option as we don't have anywhere else that's cool enough that doesn't also run the risk of freezing when the weather deteriorates.

Will have to slowly introduce the ants to the fridge so they aren't shocked by the temp change as advised previously in this thread.

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UnrealSparks
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Location: Turin

Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54391Post UnrealSparks
Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:07 am

Yes, 14 °C is still not low enough. With the fridge at least you know the temperature will stay constant throughout the winter.
Keeping the following species:

- Messor Barbarus
- Pheidole Pallidula
- Camponotus Barbaricus
- Lasius Niger
- Lasius Flavus
- Lasius Emarginatus

yaktriangle
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:45 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54392Post yaktriangle
Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:44 am

UnrealSparks wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:07 am
Yes, 14 °C is still not low enough. With the fridge at least you know the temperature will stay constant throughout the winter.
My thoughts exactly.

I assume it's okay to take them out once in awhile just to check on their wellbeing?!

JoeHostile1
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Location: Canada
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Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54395Post JoeHostile1
Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:01 am

yaktriangle wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:44 am
UnrealSparks wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:07 am
Yes, 14 °C is still not low enough. With the fridge at least you know the temperature will stay constant throughout the winter.
My thoughts exactly.

I assume it's okay to take them out once in awhile just to check on their wellbeing?!
I check my hibernating ants every two weeks. I fill up the water source inside the nest to maintain the humidity they need (Tar Heel ants formicariums). And then just a wellness and activity check. Making sure the ants aren’t laying on their backs, seeing if there is a bunch in the outworld looking for food ect.

There is no harm in checking on them.
Keeping:
Tetramorium immigrans * Lasius Neoniger * Lasius Claviger * Messor Aciculatus * Myrmica Rubra * Camponotus Novaeboracensis * Camponotus Turkastanus * Pheidole Pallidula

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSfFtn6RegZ3F1NdS1g08NA

yaktriangle
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:45 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Noob hibernation questions

Post: # 54398Post yaktriangle
Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:37 am

Awesome. The water is pretty full so hopefully will be fine.

For the record, we have left the test tube connected to the portal and have inserted the whole lot inside a dark sock to prevent the fridge light from disturbing the little blighters too much.

Ants doing "dying fly" impressions (on their backs with legs in the air) doesn't sound good to me so will look out for that! :)

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