FAQ 2: How often should I check on my ant queen/colony?

Frequently Asked Questions About Ants

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FAQ 2: How often should I check on my ant queen/colony?

Post: # 95345Post AntsLuxembourg
Tue Aug 02, 2022 4:52 am

How often should I check on my queen/colony?

It's truly exciting to have your first queen, freshly caught and inside her testtube. No one knows best than us ant keepers on how important and tempting this stage is for us. But during the founding stage of any colony it's important to not stress your ants too much or it might result in some unwanted results or even set backs on your colonies progress. In most cases it happens that the queen gets so stressed that her instincts kick in and she starts eating her freshly laid eggs or larvae to regain the proteins she used to grow and care for to setup a nest in a more suitable location.

To better understand how often you can or should check on your young colonies you need to know what genus and species they are. For example if you have a fully claustral queen, like Lasius Niger, then you should avoid checking on your ants as much as possible. They prefer it the dark and undisturbed. However if you have a semi claustral queen, like Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, you need to feed your queen every few days.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule of keep your ants in the dark. Some if not most or all Camponotus queens don't mind if you shine some light on them while others like Odontomachus hate light so much that they can and will eat their eggs if exposed too often.

If it's not light, it's the vibrations. Naturally some ant species are easily disturbed by vibrations and the best example for this is Messor Barbarus. They can sense the smallest disturbances and when it gets too much they will run around like crazy in an attempt to get deeper underground or away from the source. As you can imagine there is nowhere to go inside a test tube so be careful to not stomp around or open & close your cupboard / wardrobe doors with too much force.

To avoid all issues in general, it's best to leave them undisturbed inside a wardrobe or cupboard. Drawers are also fine but be extra careful when opening and closing since it will move the ground their nests (testtubes) are currently sitting on. Imagine it like an earthquake while you are inside your house. Wouldn't feel too nice if this happened on a daily basis. ;)

As a healthy rule of thumb you can/should check once every 3 days or twice a week at most. Especially if your queen has not laid any eggs yet. Too much stress can prevent your queens from laying any eggs during their founding stages.

Once you have confirmed that your queen is indeed fertilized and laying eggs you should reduce your checking to once per week. The exception being if your queen is semi-claustral in which case you need to feed her little bits of food and clean up the next time you check.

Doing some proper research is the best way to start an antcolony.

1 - Messor Barbarus
Founding colonies:
2 - Lasius Niger Colony
Need help or want to help? https://forum.AntsCanada.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18153#p70566

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