Considering Getting Into the Hobby

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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Atiggerx33
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:33 am
Location: New York

Considering Getting Into the Hobby

Post: # 41379Post Atiggerx33
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:46 am

So keeping ants is something I've just recently began considering, I am still very early in the research portion of making this decision; I don't like to go into any new hobby unprepared for the work, money, and time involved in maintaining it (especially when that hobby involves living creatures). So I have a few questions to start out, but I'll provide some background first on the ideal size of the colony I'd like to maintain if I were to get into the hobby since that could probably impact the answers I get.

So, ideally I'd like a colony that could happily fill the starter kit, plus maybe an additional outworld eventually. I know this takes time, but my point being I don't really want a species that needs ridiculous amounts of space or reproduces like crazy. I'd like a colony that didn't grow too quickly requiring quick additions of new outworlds to keep them happy (I know things can be slowed by lowering temperature, but I don't know much about ants so idk how much this ends up slowing things down, hence why I'm asking questions). I'd like to have a native species, so that if something ever happened where I could no longer care for my ants I could just release them somewhere in my yard. I don't intend to ever end up in such a situation, I don't intend to get involved in the hobby at all unless I'm willing to stick with it long-term, but you can never truly know what the future holds and if something did end up happening having the option to just release them in their native habitat seems very convenient. I'd like a medium sized species of ant I guess, something that's easy to see. I'd prefer a species that isn't overly aggressive, I'm not looking to get attacked by my ants when I go to clean the outworlds. I'd also like an easy-keeper species; I read that some ants will eat cooked meat, freeze dried crickets, etc. that sounds like the type of ant for me. Maybe there are species of ant that are more likely to take to such foods? I really don't wanna raise crickets or anything. I can raise ants with the happy knowledge that if I have a small amount of escapees they'll die without their colony and won't infest my house... crickets do fine on their own though so a couple of cricket escapees would be horrific in my mind.

So now to my questions:

I live in NY (Long Island specifically), based on the above criteria which species would best suit what I'm looking for? My priorities in order would be 1.) Willing to eat cooked meat/freeze dried crickets instead of me having raise to their food. 2.) Native to my area 3.) Slow-ish growing colony 4.) A size that's easy to see (not too tiny, but not huge either) 5.) minimal aggression. So based on this list the easier diet is most important to me with the aggression being the least. I don't wanna get bit by ants, but I'd much rather that than have to raise crickets or meal worms in my home. I don't know if that willingness to accept a more easy diet is entirely species-based, but if it is, yeah it'd be a priority for me.

Based on which species you picked for me above (or just on average if you're not up to identifying my ideal ant) how much money goes into ant care per year? I know the initial set up has some costs, but I'm talking more on an average yearly basis minus that initial set-up.

How much time does it take per week/month to provide ants with proper care? As I said ideally I'd like a set-up of the starter kit and eventually an additional outworld. Nothing massive.

I keep my room pretty cool, but on average it would be the equivalent of spring/fall temperatures outside if I was working with a native species how well do they do kept at such a temperature? So how fast do colonies grow in their native habitats during the spring/fall season. If such temperatures are not conducive to colony growth what's a good way to warm up a colony without warming up my entire house along with it?

cheetawolf
Posts: 160
Joined: Wed May 30, 2018 11:21 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Considering Getting Into the Hobby

Post: # 41889Post cheetawolf
Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:52 am

these are alot of words lol, if you want a slow growing easy to see colony of ants, i suggest camponotus pennsylvanicus or any camponotus species. im pretty sure you can find a queen at around these times. they take 1-3 months to grow from egg to worker, so they are slow growing. they are also pretty big, so you can see them from a distance. they arent aggressive, but they do have a bite, it doesnt hurt though. they are a polymorphic species, so workers come in all diffrent sizes lol.

if by chance you no longer wish to care for them seeting them down a big tree will be ok. as for expenses, it really depends. im pretty sure they will eat the food you stated.

so thats all i can tell you because i dont like typing lots. so just catch a queen - test-tube setup - in the dark - check every week or so - colony. good luck, and you can ask me if you have anymore questions
yay for ants!

keeping
15x lasius niger/americanus

founding
1x tetramorium immigrans

searching for
c. pennsylvanicus

GAN farmer in richmond BC

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idahoantgirl
Posts: 1509
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2015 11:52 am
Location: Idaho, USA

Re: Considering Getting Into the Hobby

Post: # 41933Post idahoantgirl
Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:10 pm

Atiggerx33 wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:46 am
So keeping ants is something I've just recently began considering, I am still very early in the research portion of making this decision; I don't like to go into any new hobby unprepared for the work, money, and time involved in maintaining it (especially when that hobby involves living creatures)..............
You can slow their growth by lowering temperature, but also just limiting protein. I was concerned about my now 2 year old tetramorium colony growing out of their small hybrid nest,but i have figured out that by only giving them a few mealworms a month, they stay healthy and the size I want them to be, even though Tetramorium is considered fast growing. I wouldn't worry about them growing too large.

As far as food goes, most ants do not take well to meat and freeze dried things since they don't contain enough moisture. I totally get not wanting to keep live feeder insects. Neither do I. So I go to the pet store, buy a package of live crickets, mealworms, , ect and I freeze it to kill them. Then I transfer them into a mason jar and store them in my freezer. When its time to feed them, I shake one or two into my outworld and cut it in half with a pair of dedicated and scissors. This way there is no smell, no mainetnance, and your ants will thank you for the liquidy insides.

As far as money goes:
aquiring queen $0-$100 (catch vrs rare species from gan farmer)
Nest $50-$130 (depending on what set up you chose)
non mandatory accessories 0-$? (Red cellophane, test tubes, paint brushes for escapees, cotton balls, outworld decor, heating cables)

yearly expenses
Sugar foods: 0-$5 (really you never have to buy sugar substances for your ants, you just use what ever sweet stuff you've got. Honey ect)
Protein: $10-20 This is if you use my method for frozen crickets. you are only going to need to buy 1-3 packages of crickets a year.

Time:
At the beginning, you won't need to spend hardly any time during your queens founding stages, except for research. In fact it is preferable that you leave her completely alone during that stage. (1-3 months)
After you get your first workers, you insert a piece of drinking straw in between the side of the test tube and the exit cotton and place it in the outworld. Then you start leaving small amounts of food in the outworld, amount of time goes up to maybe 10 min a week.

Once you move your ants into their first nest is probably when you will spend the most time. You will be busy checking connections, barriers, feedings, cleaning, ect. But honestly? Still a very small amount of time. really it takes as much time as you want it to. You can only pay attention to them 20-30 min a week( once you work kinks out, even way less) , but usually we enjoy researching, watching, and decorating our ants set ups. In my opinion, ants are not a very big time or money commitment.

If you need to heat up your nest. you get a 12 or 15 watt heating cable used for reptiles and thread it through the heating cable slot in the hybrid nest. ( or rest it up against a side of the omni nest).
Proverbs 6:6-8

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.

Keeping Tetramorium immigrans, Tapinoma Sessile

Atiggerx33
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:33 am
Location: New York

Re: Considering Getting Into the Hobby

Post: # 52678Post Atiggerx33
Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:42 am

Sorry I vanished I forgot my login info. Thank you both for the information. I definitely will enjoy watching ants for hours, I've currently been watching (in order) every episode from the AC youtube channel from the last year (beginning with him first getting the two colonies of Yellow Crazy Ants and combining them to get the Golden Empire). I feel I am learning so much about ant care just from the videos.

I'd really like to catch my own queen, but I've never seen an ant nuptial flight. I have a huge, field style backyard (about an acre) with so many ant colonies, but I've just never seen any nuptials. I'll be keeping my out next year though. I'd love to try for a carpenter ant species I guess, they're of a decent size.

Thanks for the frozen insect idea! That'd be perfect. I'll have to put the bags in something though, my family would kill me if they opened the freezer to see a bag of frozen bugs :lol: .

AntsDakota
Posts: 1153
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:22 pm
Location: South Dakota

Re: Considering Getting Into the Hobby

Post: # 52696Post AntsDakota
Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:31 pm

Atiggerx33 wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:42 am
Sorry I vanished I forgot my login info. Thank you both for the information. I definitely will enjoy watching ants for hours, I've currently been watching (in order) every episode from the AC youtube channel from the last year (beginning with him first getting the two colonies of Yellow Crazy Ants and combining them to get the Golden Empire). I feel I am learning so much about ant care just from the videos.

I'd really like to catch my own queen, but I've never seen an ant nuptial flight. I have a huge, field style backyard (about an acre) with so many ant colonies, but I've just never seen any nuptials. I'll be keeping my out next year though. I'd love to try for a carpenter ant species I guess, they're of a decent size.

Thanks for the frozen insect idea! That'd be perfect. I'll have to put the bags in something though, my family would kill me if they opened the freezer to see a bag of frozen bugs :lol: .
Common and easy to keep ants in New York and throughout temperate North America include the following-

Camponotus pennsylvanicus and novaeboracensis
Formica fusca
Lasius neoniger and americanus
Tetramorium immigrans
Prenolepis imparis
Solenopsis molesta
"God made every kind of wild beasts and every kind of livestock and every kind of creeping things;" (including ants) "and God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:25

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