All of my antkeeping mistakes that led to a disaster!

Let us know of your ant colonies or queens that have passed away. We will grieve together but will also learn why your ants may not have succeeded.

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All of my antkeeping mistakes that led to a disaster!

Post: # 56199Post Good2Know15
Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:29 pm

Dear antkeepers,

I'm new to the AntsCanada Forums and I don't know if this is the right place to post this topic, but I hope I can get some answers or opinions. I just started with the antkeeping hobby last summer, because I'm really interested in ants. I'm going to tell you all of my mistakes I made during the proces of learning about antkeeping...

So as a beginner I was really excited about starting an ant colony. I was preparing for the big nuptial flights that occur each year at my local area around the months of august and september. I waited some time and after a couple of weeks it finally started to rain. The next day was warm and sunny and the ground was pretty moisty. These were the perfect conditions for the nuptial flights to happen and I was right about it. I went outside and started looking for mating queen ants. I didn't have much with me besides a small container after some toothpicks, so I used it to capture my first Lasius Niger queen.

This was my first mistake as it was difficult to provide my queen moisture. The small plastic container had little holes on top, small enough so no ant could escape. I put some wet cotton balls inside and hoped it will work, but I had to add water once a week. I kept my queen in a dark place to not stress her out too much. She laid a bunch of eggs the next day and after a few weeks the first nanitic ants hatched. It was a succes, I thought.

Everything was going great until I had to feed the colony. I gave them some honeywater on a piece of paper and the ants seemed to love it. I fed my colony once a week, but after a month I started to notice some mold growing. I didn't do much at first, but after another week had passed, the mold really started to spread all over the container. This was the moment when I really went into panic mode. Without thinking I grabbed another plastic container, but it was much longer so I could fill it half with water and made some sort of diagonal standing up test tube setup this time. My ants weren't too much bothered with the move, because they stayed calm and just slowly moved into the new setup without even having me to get a flashlight and shine it on to the old setup.

I kept feeding my colony honeywater, sugarwater and some variants of protein rich foods like pre-killed fruit flies and small spiders or crickets. As time passed by, my colony started growing in numbers from a bunch of eggs to 10 worker ants already. As my small test tube setup was getting tight for the ants to walk around, I made the biggest mistake yet and decided to buy a small formicarium. It was a very bad idea! I didn't know that my colony needs to have atleast 40 worker ants before they could move to a bigger nest space. They moved out of the test tube setup pretty quickly and within 2 days every member of the colony including the queen and the brood had moved into the formicarium. Everything was looking good and I had no problem feeding the colony, so what was the problem you may be asking?

My Lasius Niger colony decided to use the extra space as a place to dump all their garbage. I made onnected my formicarium to a small foraging area with ground in it. As you might expect, I added too much water so it all became too moist. The ants decided to dig tunnels in the ground. Within another month the disaster struck. The condensation started forming all over the glass of the foraging area and the formicarium. I had a really hard time removing it and cleaning the foraging arena. There were already some casualties within the colony. The number of worker ants dropped drastically from 10 to 4.

Then I made another BIG mistake. As winter was slowly approaching I tried to move my colony out of their dirty and moist formicarium into a proper glass test tube setup with water filled to 1/3 of the tube and plugged both ends with cotton balls. One out of the four worker ants didn't make it. The queen slowed a bit down and seemed stressed out, but maybe she was just preparing for the hibernation. I gave them some honeywater and left them for a week in a dark, quiet place to not cause any further damage that I had previously done. The ants seemed okay, so I slowly started to decrease the temperature in the room I kept my colony in. This took me two weeks. Then the hibernation time started. I put them in a cold place with temperature of around 5 to 8 degrees Celcius. I left them there for 3 months while I was checking on them once a month. The worker ants were crawled up and the queen really slowed down.

I recently ended the hibernation as the temperature outisde is getting warmer and wild ants are starting to come out of their nests. I can say that the hibernation was half a succes, because the three worker ants didn't make it and I think I over froze them or maybe it was just their time. I'm sure they were dead as I slowly raised the temperature back to around 15 to 20 degrees Celcius in a period of three weeks. The workers didn't move at all, not even a single leg or antenna. I got them out of the tube and the only thing that's now left is the queen with a few larvae :cry: . The queen looks to be fine now and the larvae seem to be alive to.

These were all the mistakes I made as a beginner (and I still am).
To end this all of I just have one question, because I'm kinda worried as to if anything is okay with my Lasius Niger queen and her larvae in the current test tube setup as in AntsCanada's video.

Will my Lasius Niger queen fully recover after the loss of all her workers?

Thank you very much for posting this topic! I hope that you have learned something new from my experiences and that someone can help me answering my question. PS: I hope it's not too much reading :roll:
Also known as Ants_Netherlands16

Keeper of:
Lasius niger, flavus, lasioides
Myrmica sp.
Messor barbarus & Messor sp.
Crematogaster scutellaris
Camponotus aethiops, ligniperdus
Solenopsis fugax
Temnothorax nylanderi :D

Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:59 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: All of my antkeeping mistakes that led to a disaster!

Post: # 56205Post PwnerPie
Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:23 pm

Leave the workers in there for a week or so. I had one in with one colony that was all curled up, swear it was dead. 1 week...7 days..later it was up running around with the rest.
Regarding the queen, give it sugar and protein and she should be ok.
FYI, your mistakes aren't that bad. You're doing fine, have fun and keep learning!!!
Keeper of:
1x Formica Pacifica
2x Camponotus Modoc
1x Tetramorium Immigrans
2x Lasius Sp

3x Lasius Sp
2x Formica Argentea
2x Myrmica Rubra

GAN Farmer: 4 Colonies sold
Goal: Supply school science classes with colonies for learning.

Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:57 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: All of my antkeeping mistakes that led to a disaster!

Post: # 56970Post Hunter36o
Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:01 am

Your queen can survive if the workers are dead but you have to remember she has already used up her proteins from her wing muscles so she will need to be fed surgery foods and proteins.

Just before hibernation one of my queen's test tube ended up flooding over. I had no way to save the brood or the workers but I did save the queen. She went into hibernation with a fresh batch of brood in a new set up after I made sure she was okay. She is now out of hibernation with 6 workers, a fair bit of pupae and lots of eggs and larvae. So just care for her and your queen should be fine.
Research is important before during and even after you have established a colony. There is always time to learn and to listen to others experiences. Live by this and your ants will thrive. Fail to do so and your experience may be brief.

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Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:54 am

Re: All of my antkeeping mistakes that led to a disaster!

Post: # 57516Post AntFarmer7
Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:08 pm

The same thing happened to me! I also have lasius niger, and now all that's left is the queen! She just wanders around the outworld and occasionally eats. Just keep her safe and fed. Hopefully both our queens will make it! :)
Keeping one colony of Lasius Niger

Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
Proverbs 30:25

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Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:03 am

Re: All of my antkeeping mistakes that led to a disaster!

Post: # 62431Post Liamwitford
Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:10 am

Hi all,
I'm new here. So I'm not sure if this the right section but his my issue, I have a branded sugar ant queen with one worker. She has had 5 larva for the last 4 and a bit month. I asuming they are taking so long as it very cold here as it is winter. But two days ago I notice one had gone missing and the next day a second. I can only assume the worker or queen have eaten them. I feed them every two day and water them. Diet usually mill worm, earth worm and bannan. Anyone got any idea. Thanks

Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:22 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: All of my antkeeping mistakes that led to a disaster!

Post: # 62436Post Vincex
Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:16 am

You need to leave her be for a few weeks liam you might be disturbing her too much ants won't need to be fed so much when the colony s small
Keeper of
1 lasius niger
1 pheidole pallidula
1 myrmica rubra
1 camponotus ligniperda

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