First time ant keeper! Any tips?

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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First time ant keeper! Any tips?

Post: # 63442Post Diamione
Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:08 pm


I have been a long time fan of bugs/insects in general, and have always wanted to try my hand at ant keeping!

This Thursday while I worked, a night shift, I saw a how mess (about 30 of so) through-out my store of large black ants.
Most with wings. I wrangled up the ones that hadn't been squished by trampling feet yet and mate off with 10 beautiful girls.

I am 95% sure that they are Labor Day/Cornfield ants. Because this is Labor Day weekend and they tend to have their nuptial flights around this time.
I didn't have any ant keeper supplies, and I live in a small town that doesn't apparently have test tubes. So I went to the nearest florists and procured some water tubes/picks.

I have watched many AntsCanada videos and followed it to set up the claustral chambers for them.

Any tips of advice for a rookie ant keeper? <3

Images of them here -
Newb Ant Keeper - Attempting to raise:
Laisus Neoniger/Americanus

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Re: First time ant keeper! Any tips?

Post: # 63443Post cheetawolf
Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:16 pm

Hi ! Nice to see more and more people joining this awesome hobby.

you started off nicely, and you're probably right about the species. Now what I like to do is wrap a paper around the viewing part of the test tube (or in your case, floral pick) then it will be 100% dark in their tube. Then you can tuck them somewhere in your closet where you will have the least bit vibrations or noise so that the queens don't get nervous or anxious. you can check up on them every week and a half at least, if you're curious, but I wouldnt check on them until about a month because thats when they workers usually eclose.

When you have got workers wait until a day so that they can harden up, and then give them a tiny drop of honey, make sure you put it on a piece of aluminum so that the honey doesn't get smeared on the test tube, and at that time you can also proceed to give them small pieces of insects, make sure the insects are dead and pesticide free so that your ants will be healthy and safe.

this is all i can write for now cause im busy, I hope this helps, and happy ant keeping!
yay for ants!

6x lasius niger/americanus

12x tetramorium immigrans

1x formica podzolica

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camponotus sp

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Re: First time ant keeper! Any tips?

Post: # 63466Post Diamione
Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:29 am

Hello. ^^

Thank you so much for the advice! :D
I have tucked them away in a cabinet, I think my closet would be too distracting for them, but I almost never use the cabinet.
I placed a small washrag over the tubes and closed the cabinet so there shouldn't be any light in there. ;)

I plan to order the AC Starter Gear pack in a week or 2 so I can have it available when they are ready in a month or so.
I think I will ultimately keep 2 of them, mostly caught so many because I wanted to guarantee that I had a few fertile ones. (just in case)

I am happy to report that I noticed 2 of them cleaning their abdomens before I tucked them away! <3

There is a pet store nearby so I plan to grab some crickets and meal worms, maybe even some fruit flies if they have them. and I'll tear them apart for the workers at that time.
I've kept mantises and lizards before so I do have all the gear to keep feeder crickets.

Thanks again for your time and words of wisdom! <3
Newb Ant Keeper - Attempting to raise:
Laisus Neoniger/Americanus

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Re: First time ant keeper! Any tips?

Post: # 63472Post Hawkeye
Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:33 am

If the floral pick is anything like the test tube, you're probably fine to leave them in there until they have 10- 20 workers. The ac tube connector thingy (connects multiple test tubes) can also function as a small outworld at the start. That should facilitate feeding them.
Once the colony is big enough you can simply attach a tube which leads to a formicarium with an outworld attached.
Instead of the usual insects, you could also try the jelly of wet cat or dog food. This is easy to feed on for the ants and is packed with protein. Mixing it up with some honey, syrup or sugar water will make it even more attractive.
When feeding insects, I would recommend you throw them in the freezer for a couple of hours to kill of bacteria and possible parasites like mites.
Other than that it sounds like you're of to a good start.

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Re: First time ant keeper! Any tips?

Post: # 64137Post Diamione
Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:27 am

Beep Boop!

Just thought I would post an update on my girls! <3
I checked on them today and 2-3 of them have laid eggs! :D

I have also noticed some mold developing on the water soaked cotton. I don't think it's enough to worry about quite yet, but I will be preparing more tubes for the next weekend so I can be ready to transfer my girls if needed.
Unless this level of mold is already dangerous? :(

Any tips for changing the tubes of queens? Will they move themselves/their eggs if I leave their current tube in light and the new tube dark? Or will they need a little motivation?


I put a black paper under the tubes so I could see the eggs and such better, its easier to see the queen despite the paper in person. Though they disappear in the picture. They seem to be doing just fine. :D
the 3rd tube from the left and the rightmost tube are the ones with eggs in them! :D

I need to get some indoor/room thermometers so I can tell just how hot/cold my room or parts of my room are. My house is very old and my particular room doesn't have a working vent shaft.
I have decided to check my girls on Saturdays, the same day I put them into tubes. only for about a minute or so, take a picture and observe them, water levels, check for mold, and look for eggs, etc. and then leave them alone for another 6 days.
Newb Ant Keeper - Attempting to raise:
Laisus Neoniger/Americanus

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