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Ant Keepers United

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And you need to make sure that the queen you've caught isn't a parasitic one that cannot found a colony on it's own (a parasitic queen invades a colony of another species to kill the queen and seduce the workers into tending for her brood so she doesn't have to).

And that only applies to unexperienced ant keepers for whom they might cause problems (like searching for pupae of a proper host or adoption of old workers of that host). After gaining some skills and knowledge (or buying released game) parasitic ants can be kept as well ;)

I can't also fully agree that 
BIGGER ANTS ARE EASIER TO CARE FOR. Ants like Serviformica, Camponotus and Messor are WAY easier to contain than Rainbow ants or Pheidole species that can squeeze through tiny gaps or even walk over many barriers that work fine for larger ants."

I agree with the part that they are easier to contain, but not maintain. First of all, I should point that I'm writting about middle-european species (I understand that Serafine is from North America<?>). Camponotus here are sometimes really hard to start  when you try to do so from a single queen. It sometimes take half or even a year for the queen to start lying eggs. Then, if you are a lucky one, they will develop to 3-6 workes up to 20 in 1,5-2 years. If you are unlucky before first batch or seond bath (or both) of imago workers appear there will be a half year of stagnation. So, in case of Camponotus generalisation is not a good thing.

There are also Sevriformica, or just Formica (as Serviformica is a subgenus of Formica) which require hibernation every year to develop further. Ommiting hibernation may cause them often to fall into stagnation (half year or even a year!). They develop quite fast and grow to large numbers.

I did not keep them yet but I have friends who did/still do - Messor requires a nest that does not mold. As far as I know they do not develop well in all kinds of formicariums (especially cork ones), can dig through plaster of paris and ytong, etc etc. As the new antkeepers usually have tendecy to overdose water it might be a problem for ants to stay their food away from mold.

IMO, Lasius and Tetramiorium (both very common in Europe and N. America) are the easiest, most resiliant and idiotproof ants. Tetramorium are smaller ones that will escape if they find a small gap but if you keep the queen in, they will just return after sacanning nearest surroundings. Possible escape is the only problem here. Those genus are interesting (L. niger creates pheromone trails, Tetramorium is also garnivorous), develop quite fast and are easy to catch/are cheap.

That's my opinion, I understand that you might not agree with that  :)
« Last Edit: June 26, 2017, 11:07:50 AM by MBargo »

And that only applies to unexperienced ant keepers for whom they might cause problems (like searching for pupae of a proper host or adoption of old workers of that host). After gaining some skills and knowledge (or buying released game) parasitic ants can be kept as well ;)
Parasitic queens are always tricky and adoptions can easily fail. I've even read journals where everything went fine until the parasitic workers eclosed only to be murdered by the host workers.
I wouldn't recommend a parasitic species to a newbie.

I agree with the part that they are easier to contain, but not maintain. First of all, I should point that I'm writting about middle-european species (I understand that Serafine is from North America<?>). Camponotus here are sometimes really hard to start  when you try to do so from a single queen. It sometimes take half or even a year for the queen to start lying eggs. Then, if you are a lucky one, they will develop to 3-6 workes up to 20 in 1,5-2 years. If you are unlucky before first batch or seond bath (or both) of imago workers appear there will be a half year of stagnation. So, in case of Camponotus generalisation is not a good thing.
I'm actually from Germany.
Also that is mostly true for Camponotus ligniperda which seems to be the most difficult one of the european natives. Camponotus ligniperda also (unlike other Camponotus) does not benefit from additional heating - they will just drop into hibernation earlier after they're done with their season plan.
But yes, Camponotus take a veeeeery long time to develop, especially the central european ones.

There are also Sevriformica, or just Formica (as Serviformica is a subgenus of Formica) which require hibernation every year to develop further. Ommiting hibernation may cause them often to fall into stagnation (half year or even a year!). They develop quite fast and grow to large numbers.
Formica s str (the hill-building wood ants that found massive multi-queen colonies with millions of workers) are protected in most european countries anyway and keeping them is prohibited. Serviformica usually don't grow very large colonies (just a few thousand workers).

And yes, obviously all ant species from temperate regions need their hibernation.

I did not keep them yet but I have friends who did/still do - Messor requires a nest that does not mold. As far as I know they do not develop well in all kinds of formicariums (especially cork ones), can dig through plaster of paris and ytong, etc etc. As the new antkeepers usually have tendecy to overdose water it might be a problem for ants to stay their food away from mold.
Messor are best kept in a nest (or even two separate connected nests) with a dry part (where they can store seeds) and a wet part (where they can raise larvae). And yes, they can chew through Ytong but Camponotus majors can do that as well.
The main issue with Messor (especially Messor barbarus) is that they can be an army of little wrecking balls completely obliterating an outworld by grinding out all the grout, removing or even disassembling all the decorations, pulling cotton from the water tubes so those leak into the outworld (which makes re-shaping the environment even easier) and generally wreaking havoc on anything they can dig up, chew through, carry away or modify in a way that allows for it to be used as a building material.
If I'm ever gonna get a second ant colony it's gonna be those little wrecking balls ;D

IMO, Lasius and Tetramiorium (both very common in Europe and N. America) are the easiest, most resiliant and idiotproof ants. Tetramorium are smaller ones that will escape if they find a small gap but if you keep the queen in, they will just return after sacanning nearest surroundings. Possible escape is the only problem here. Those genus are interesting (L. niger creates pheromone trails, Tetramorium is also garnivorous), develop quite fast and are easy to catch/are cheap.

That's my opinion, I understand that you might not agree with that  :)
I agree that Lasius and Tetramorium are by far the easiest species to care for. Also while they may not be very large they're still by far not the smallest species.
When I think about small ants it's ants like the smaller Iridomyrmex species (rainbow ants), the smaller Pheidoles (bigheaded ants) or the tiny Solenopsis molesta and fugax (thief ants) which all are a pain to contain.

Lasius and Tetramorium are probably by far the best beginner species but I wouldn't say that as a beginner you cannot keep ants like Camponotus or Messor/Novomessor or even ponerine ants. If you do your research, aquire the knowledge you need and have enough patience you may do well with those, too.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2017, 11:49:34 AM by Serafine »

I LOVE WATCHING MY COLONY(s) GROW!!! IT'S SO FUN!!!
I have three red imported fire ant colonies, Their still not ready to move into hybrid nests though.
Go to the ant, learn from her ways, and be wise.

Weswes1st your keeping fire ants? I hope you know what your doing, and if you are able to keep them well... that's badass.  8)

Those fire ant colonies will explode out of their setups very soon. Solenopsis had a ridiculous growth rate, better buy some large plastic containers, you gonna need them.


  • Mike

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Found a few of these, what I believe to be Lasius niger queens. The wingless ones were probably a little under a cm in length, some of the winged ones were smaller which I presume were males. Honestly, if I hadn't been at my day job at the time, I'd probably have tried to take one or two home with me.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2017, 07:38:21 PM by Mike »

#1 rule if you want to catch an ant: Always carry a small glass bottle or a plastic test tube around with you - you always find them when you're not actively looking for them.
But NEVER carry caught queens directly at your body - the excess heat from your skin can kill them quickly. Instead put them into your jacket pocket, bag or backpack.

Yes, it looks like Lasius niger (might also be Lasius flavus if it has a more yellowish lower side, they're pretty much the same except L. flavus gets yellow workers).
I'm sure you will have another chance to catch them, they usually fly 2-3 days in a row multiple times throughout the summer.


Lasius niger is btw a brilliant beginner species that thrives in pretty much every environment and is very forgiving even if you make mistakes in their keeping (same goes for Formica fusca). You just need to place the queen into a test tube setup with cotton and water and leave her alone for 3-4 weeks. She doesn't need any food and the water from the test tube is sufficient. When she has first workers place the test tube setup in a small plastic or glass container (don't forget to apply a barrier to the container top sides like baby powder or Fluon), put a straw through the cotton and offer a tiny drop of sugar water or honey and a fruit fly or a small spider.

I caught a Lasius niger queen about 20 days ago (they were everywhere) and she already has larvae =)

My Camponotus got majors! Look at these huge heads!

(There's one in the middle and two on the right side, one on the ceiling and one on the bottom)

They just moved into the new nest!

Preparations:



Here they are in the new SimAnts.de Pro M nest (the best 3D-printed nest available on the market) with a ton of (hard to see) brood:
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 04:44:55 PM by Serafine »

Look how they grew!





And this is a Lasius niger queen I found in early August.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 10:30:45 PM by Serafine »

Camponotus barbaricus






Lasius niger


Both still active and doing great ;D

Right click on the image -> show image to get full resolution (it's 4600 x 2500 or so).
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 11:44:03 PM by Serafine »

  • Mike

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Good lord. They're looking fantastic!  :D

The Camponotus are slowly growing into an army - I'm starting to get worried about their growth over the next year... ;D

I would like to keep ants, but in my area the only ants are invasive Argentines. The only nuptial flights I've ever seen are of TERMITES.