Ant keeping guide for beginners (Lasius sp.)

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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Good2Know15
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:13 am
Location: Netherlands

Ant keeping guide for beginners (Lasius sp.)

Post: # 60786Post Good2Know15
Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:49 am

Hello! Are you new to keeping Lasius Niger? If so, then I think I could help you :roll:

First of all Lasius Niger is a very easy ant species to keep. They fly from around June to August on warm and humid summer days, just after some rain fall. The queens are easily recognizable with their huge black/brown, shiny abdomen. I myself have been really lucky to catch at least 10 of them in my local area, in the Netherlands yesterday. I've put each of them alone in 160 mL long test tubes filled half with water. I've put two queens in seperate glass containers filled in with soil to see their natural digging behaviour after the flight and I also put 2 queens in a test tube together to see if they could raise the first workers together (Lasius Niger are monogyne, meaning that there can only be one queen in the entire colony. There is an exception though where several gynes of Lasius sp. can raise the first brood and workers together before they fight to death and only one queen remains).

After you catch your Lasius Niger queens it's best to leave them in a warm, dark and moist place for a week before checking on them. Most Lasius species are fully-claustral meaning that they don't leave their nest after making their claustral chamber after mating during the nuptial flights. They can survive up to 3 months wihtout any food relying on their wing muscles and body fat reserves. Two of those queens I caught had still their wings on, but that doesn't instantly mean that they are infertile (we will see after the first workers hatch). If they are still alive after one week and have laid eggs, then it's more likely that they are mated. Then all you have to do is to leave them for a month and try not to disturb them (I know it's very hard to not look and if you want to look, then I suggest you to only check up on them once a week). It will take approximately 6-8 weeks before the first workers (nanitics) hatch.

After your queen has her first workers, it's best to give them a small drop of honey water and maybe a fruit fly. No more than this every 1 to 2 weeks is needed, as too much disturbance might stress your queen and that could lead up to her stop laying more eggs.

Once your colony has around 10 workers it's okay to place the covered tube in an outworld (a small plastic container would do), as it is easier to feed them and clean up their garbage. They will soon get used to using the outworld.

Keep on doing this till your colony reaches about 30 workers. Only after that it's ideal to make or buy them a small formicarium and connect it to their outworld. Y-tong is, for example, a good water absorbent material to use for making the nesting space. Lasius sp. need humidity (water) to live. Make sure to make half of the nest moist and the other half dry as ants like to have a humidity gradient.
I would suggest you to research the internet on how to make and maintain such a formicarium ;)

Keep in mind to feed your colonies different type of food such as small flies, mealworms, crickets, honey or sugar water and different types of fruits. They will need that protein to grow in numbers and the carbohydrates (sugar) to stay active.

Lasius Niger colonies are from temperate regions and do not sleep during the winter months, but rather slow down their metabolism and stop laying eggs. It is not necessary to hibernate them (in the first year), but it is very advisable! It could have a big impact on your queen's health. The months of hibernation usually stretches from October to around March at 3 - 10 degrees Celsius. You could put them in the fridge, but NOT in the freezer. Just remember to slowly change the temperature before hibernation and do the same after. They do good at room temperature in the normal/warm months.

That's about it on raising small colonies from a single queen ant.
Oh, also one more thing... did you see the word "small" I used in almost every sentence? That's because Lasius sp. colonies don't like big open space and feel more safe in tight places, so don't get too excited with the amazing empire of ants you are gonna have in the best and biggest formicarium you've got, because I made that mistake as a beginner too and I really regret it (condensation problem, temperature, mould outbrakes, etc.) :cry:


I wish you much luck (and sorry for the big amount of text xD I like to type long care sheets) :D
Let's show people how amazing ants really are :D !

Keeper of:
- Lasius niger
- Lasius flavus
- Lasius lasioides
- Lasius emarginatus
- Messor barbarus
- Myrmica rubra

Looking forward to:
- Formica sp.
- Tetramorium caespitum

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ThePositive
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:14 pm
Location: New Mexico, USA

Re: Ant keeping guide for beginners (Lasius sp.)

Post: # 62492Post ThePositive
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:26 pm

I dont keep this species but really enjoyed the tutorial. Thanks a lot!
πŸ—πŸœπŸœπŸœ 🐜 🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜 🐜

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LadyManga
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:58 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Ant keeping guide for beginners (Lasius sp.)

Post: # 64219Post LadyManga
Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:29 am

Just what I needed! Thanks!
2 x Lasius niger queens
> Queen Antoinette - claustral stage - ~15 nanitics + brood
> Queen Antonia - claustral stage - ~10 nanitics + brood
1 x Tetramorium caespitum queen
> Queen Antigone - claustral stage - no eggs

Vincex
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:22 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Ant keeping guide for beginners (Lasius sp.)

Post: # 64221Post Vincex
Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:56 am

Hi as regards hibernation is there any teltale signs that they are ready to hibernate ! My queen just laid another big clutch of eggs and it's late September so I'm not sure as to when I should place in fridge
Keeper of
1 lasius niger
1 messor barberus
1 myrmica rubra

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