The Ant Keeping, how and why
The purpose of this page is to explain everything to you about the ant keeping, to know why and more particularly, how.
Having an Ant Keeping ? But why ?
The ant keeping may seem surprising, but you soon realize the interest. Ants are the most advanced insects on many fronts. Their behavior is very complex as far as the differences between the 12 000 species identified in the world.
With current knowledge and technologies, it is possible to reduce the separation between our tow worlds as a simple transparent glass. Then, enjoy observing and understanding how ants live. You could compare the ant keeping to the ornamental fish keeping.
Among the behavior that is often observed, there is the hunting, the food retrieving, the care to brood, the digging of the nest, the sharing of food by trophallaxis... And on primitive species, you can see how they establish a hierarchy by fighting.
Don't forget to check our weshop (at the left of the site), we sell all ants, novating ant farms, food and accessories you need to have an ant keeping at home ! We send orders in less than 48h all over the European Union !
The ant keeping is often practiced as a hobby by all those who want to discover the world of ants and deal with fascinating creatures. But the ant keeping can also be lead for scientific research. The ant keeping in laboratory can study how nests are established, the chemical communication between ants and how they organize themselves to find the solution to a problem.
The results of this researches can be very useful in robotics and can help us to organize various situations in our own society.
So how to have an Ant Keeping ?
On the Ants@Home webshop, you can find everything you need to keep ants : ant farms, ant colonies, complete sets... But here we are going to say more about how to have an ant keeping in good conditions.
The food of your Ants Keeping
Almost all species excepted Messor like liquids with sugar and proteins, for example milk with our ant food in powder or honey (pesticides contained on milk or honey can be dangerous for your ants. Use biological food, bio is not only good for humans !).
Insects are very important and appreciated by all species. They should be put in the freezer for 48 hours to remove any parasitic mites. Insects coming from keepings don't host parasites, but may be killed before being given to ants if they are too big. Here is a short list of some of the many preys accepted by the majority of ants:
Flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, crane flies, spiders, earwigs, grasshoppers, crickets, fish Agent, mealworms ...
Try also flakes of fish food, chicken, beef or even (dead) mouse ...
The frequency of food intake will depend on the species. We can say that a species able to store food in its stomach (Lasius, Camponotus, Formica...) may be fed once a week or more often. A species such as Pheidole who likes insects should be fed almost every day. Messor can live on stored seeds several months, although it is advisable to give regularly small quantities of seeds and add some insects.
The adapted Ant farm to keep ants
On our webshop, we sell ant farms we design to be adapted to ants ants and novating. But this will explain more about how ant farms are made.
The nest part
is where ants live, like they would under stones. In this part, ants take care of the brood, storage seeds...
The moistening system
must bring moisture into the living space, the nest part, essential to ants.
This system will depend on the nest itself and can be a water tank built in the nest if it is absorbing (plaster, concrete cellular). It is also possible to moisten the substrate in which ants live (synthetic foam) or just moisten the air by evaporating water from a reserve independent of the rooms where ants live.
Whatever the moistening system, your most important job is to monitor this reserve to keep it full and keep your ant farm under good conditions.
is a part usually open. It allows you to install your ants in the nest part, to bring the food and to remove waste from the colony. It represents the ground, the surface outside the nest. This part is essential, but prevent ants from escaping is simple.
To be sure, the easiest way is to apply Fluon on the walls. This product becomes slippery when applied and stays effective about 1 year before needing replacement. Fluon or Teflon or PTFE is available on this website in the accessories. Fluon only works on glass, but talc can replace it on plastic.
The temperature your ant keeping needs
The majority of ant species need a high temperature during the day to be active and to lay normally. Place your ant keeping around 20/22C at night and at 26/28C at day. Refer to the information given about the species you would like to keep for more precision.
To warm your ant keeping, you can use a bulb of 20 to 40W trained on the nest. Be sure you check the temperature thanks to a thermometer.
is a period which usually lasts two months during which the colony has to rest at a lower temperature. For example, Messor will spend about two months to 10/18 degrees, but temperature can also be higher. Without this period of rest, the queen may no longer lay eggs after a few months and his life will decrease. However, some species do not need to winter : Tetramorium caespitum, Pheidole pallidula and many exotic species.
Where your Ant Keeping should be placed
Avoid the sun! This is a stress for ants. The brood is also sensitive to UV and there is a risk of overheating in the nest.
Also avoid vibration. This stresses the colony and may affect its development. If your nest is not in a quiet place, the problem can be solved by putting felt pads under the nest.
Parasites : dust mites
Dust mites are the main threat to the health of your ant keeping. There are mostly white mites that eat ants waste. Their presence can stop the laying of the queen and destroy the colony if nothing is done. To avoid these problems, a few simple rules are usually sufficient :
These mites are naturally present in the dust. Carpets should be avoided as letting dust accumulate near your ants keeping. For this, use a damp cloth for cleaning.
Dust mites do not only parasites ants, they are also found on other insects. That's why you need to freeze your prey 48 to 72 hours at -22 degrees before they can be given your ants safely. This allows you to keep your insect reserves several months, so it is not really a disadvantage. Preys coming from keeping don't carry parasites.
One last thing: as we have seen above, the mites feed on the waste of ants. In other words, it is impossible for them to live in a perfectly clean nest ! Remove wastes of your ant keeping from the arena to avoid problems.
Ants@Home is a world's unique webshop designing novating ant farms based in France. We constantly do important researches with the goal to create what no one created before us. Our ant farms are made to keep Messor ants in perfect conditions and to allow you to have a fascinating object at home. Feel free to ask your questions in English.
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