ANTFARM

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You will find here, all information about the breeding of ants in captivity. How obtain colony. It is very important to know that a colony without queen doesn't have any long-term interest... 

The Queen

The queen, with a fat and imposing abdomen, is normally the greatest ant of the colony. Another significant characteristic is the thorax (average section), greater than all others member of the colony. If you compared queen's thorax with any member of the colony, the queen's thorax is 3 times more imposing.

 So the best way and easy to find a queen is very specific, it consists to wait the nuptial flight.... The nuptial flights are the best moment to find queens. The best reason to take ants in its nuptial flight is because they are much less sensible to the light that other mature queens or (robbed of formed anthills or). Also you are able to see the complete development of the colony. It is important to feed the queen before between in your anthill for asegurarte good a first egg litter. We must hope to the nuptial flight of the princess (queens no fertilized) during spring and summer. The new queens normally leave the anthill after the first rains with warm temperatures, that is to say, the first rains of spring and autumn. She depends on where you are and of the development of the colony.

 But there is a method to know at 10 days close, the flight or the no nuptial flight of colonies. It consists in locating a colony and from time to time to look the presence of individuals with wing. For the most informed of you it consists in locating a remaining number of nymphs of princess. Indeed the nuptial flights can take place only one time all sexual individual are in the adult stage (winged ants), therefore if it remains much of big size nymphs (2 times larger than a worker). It is that you must wait around 3 weeks.

In France : from July to September

 It begins when the first hot and sunny days of the summer. Thus when the colony did not has sexual individual in larval state and nymph state, colonies wait the first heat days of the summer to make the nuptial flight at the same time as the other colonies of the same species around.

In the Tropics:

 It's held during the estival season, from October to Mars, during the rain season, but during the rare days without rain of this season.

It is better not give any food to the queen. She requires only one thing to be able to found its colonies, "water", and thus it does not require any particular care, until arrival of the first workers (what will not arrive, in the best cases, 1 month after its capture, See the device which will enable you to give water to your queen:

 

Watch out for well close the test tube and well "compress" cotton which serves of "separation" between the" Queen room" and the" Water tank "(if you don't want to see the drowning of your queen), watch out for this separation will be slightly wet...

Watch out for slightly incline (5-10 approximately) the test tube, like this "Water tank" is lower than "Queen room", that will not allow water invade completely "Queen room", if water had suddenly penetrated.

The best time to collect the ants is at the spring and the beginning of the summer. It is the moment of laying and construction of nests. During the cold months, during the winter, the ants are not very active and certain members of the anthill hibernate. A colony collected in spring will show you all stages of development from the egg to adult.

The better means to collect ants living in an underground nest consists in placing a box, filled with little wet ground, close to entry of the nest. If one places food inside, by leaving the opened lid, the ants will not take a long time to find it and will form "soon an odorous track of their nest to the box. Then after 8 or 10 hours, by gently flooding the anthill with a watering-can, one impose ants to give up their nest and to seek refuge in the box which is drier. The instinct of construction is so strong that the first workers made in the box will start at once to dig and work new rooms and tunnels. One stops the watering from there anthill when the workers start to leave eggs, larva and the nymphs, and to carry them in the box and also when several queens have left the nest to the box. If one surrounds the box of a not very deep water ditch, the ants cannot escape.

 As the ants build their nest while moving towards darkness and not towards light, it is necessary to fix on the pane of glass, masks made of dark paperboard. If the panes of glass are not covered, the ants will build their tunnels and rooms inside the ground, out of sight. One raises simply the paperboards for observation periods.

Finally the most obvious way to capture a queen is of course outward journey to seek it with the source, i.e. in a wild colony. But that remains something of random and the chances to find the queen are not guaranteed, indeed the queen (species monogyne) is the center piece of the colony, it is thus savagely kept and with the shelters in its bunker which constitutes the colony itself.

Thus the queen remains often very difficult to find, but that does not remain impossible because it is basically in the colonies, and thus you will be able have force perseverance to fall above, but have the manner of an archaeologist you will have to be very meticulous not to risk to kill her by blows of unhappy shovel. Also I you council in (humidified if possible well the ground before starting has to dig)

The other way of finding the queen is the soft manner, it consists in digging the colonies day after day, the colonies will be thus put has naked and with each time you come to dig the colony will be a little less deep and a little wetter indeed the vegetable cover with the top of the colony having disappeared water infiltrates more easily with the heart of the colony making the spot for you even much more facile.

Of course it is better well locate places, help yourself with topography before attack a colony in particular. Try not attack an important colony because this colony is generally very deep, and the queen also.... Thus try to attack small colonies (less than 1000 individuals), try to know what species it is, in fact with a polygin species the number of queen is very more important than in a monogyn specie, and so the luck to meet a queen is very more important too...

Once you have captured the queen, you have just to capture the rest of the colony, try to collect a maximum of worker, they will put in confidence your queen, they make the force and the vitality of your colony, also try to collect the maximum of larva, egg, nymph that you can. for that you can use a insect-hoover or take piece of the colony with soil and do the short at home. 

For that you can use a large box of 30*20 cm, coat the box walls with a repulsive product (pink grease for bike).
Spread out the ground in this box, and patiently take workers, larva, eggs... 

Then introduce everybody in a little box in which one you will drill a hole in witch one you will introduce a test-tube, the ants hates the light so put a card on this tube test, you will urge them to go to the test-tube. 

Finally connect this temporary colony to your final colony and wait until they immigrate bye themselves into it

It is a question of putting soil and ants in an aquarium treated with a repulsive product on the edges, to create an artificial anthill which will be correctly humidified, and wait until the soil dry out completely in the other side. The ants will move bye themselves in the wetland with all the colony and queens. 

Feed the ant

All depends on the species you have, each specie require different things.

Most of ants species are omnivorous, they appreciate a mixture (Water + Sugar, or Water with honey). He is recommendable to add vitamin in the mixture.

But this 

Also many species (not all) eat insects. The harvester Ants, like Messor, need seeds. You can use canary seed or bird seed, crumbs of bread, but always in smallest amounts. When you feed the ants, try to not throw food in (on) the anthill, but try to have a feed-box, link bye a tube to the anthill. That permits to you to clean the feed-box, to avoid the development of fungus.

page 259 of the book "Trip to the Ants" we extract this diet:

1 egg

62 milliliters of honey

1 mg of vitamins

1 mg of minerals and salt

5 GM of agar

500 milliliters of water (mineral)

To dissolve agar in 250 milliliters of boiling water. To let cool. To add to 250 milliliters of water the honey, vitamins, the minerals and the egg. To remove until it is left a paste smooth. Constantly removing to add the solution of agar.

Most of the insectivorous species they are developed well with this diet when one along with feeds 3 times the week fragments on fresh insects, like worms (Tenebrio) and crickets, in small amounts. If the ants are pregivers they like to hunt flies of the fruit without wings.

Feeding: A varied diet is very important for the ants. Also it is important to give them eaten fresh (of every day). It is advisable to have your own source of insects to feed your ants.

It is recommendable to have your own source of insects to feed your ants.

ants require a constant and significant contribution of protein also it is necessary to give them in consequence : 

- Ham

- Flakes for red fish 

Other food rich in protein

Insect that you will find in all supermarket or in fishing store :

- maggot

- caterpillar (mite)

- flour worm

You must kill beforehand these insects before giving them to your ants, thus those will not injured your workers.

Kill them by putting them at the freezer. You can also let your maggots become adult flies and then to kill them by the same process and finally give flies to your ants. 

You must kill beforehand these insects before giving them to your ants, thus those will not wound your workers while defending yourselves. Kill by putting them at the freezer. You can also let your maggots become adult flies and then to kill them not the same process and finally to give them has your ants. 

Insects which you will find in certain pet shops specialized in NDP sale (New Domestic Pet, spiders and other reptiles...): 

- Crickets 

- Cockroaches 

- etc. 

You will have to kill these insects before giving them to your ants by putting them at the freezer. Of course you can give various wild insects, you have previously kill. 

How Lodge Your Ants 

There are several ways. Website visits where you can find all the information about the construction of different types of anthills.

http://krungkuene.org/ameisen_page/TerrariumPlaster.html

http://homepage2.nifty.com/kazita/nest.html

Of course you can choose a vulgar bottle, put soil inside, and install your ants on it, but: 

- You will not be able to supervise the activity of your anthill. 

- You can put the food only in this bottle. 

 

So the device depends on the size of your colony, if you have a colony of small size (-200 individual), it is useless to build a complex and big ANTHILL of plaster or other, because your ants will exploit only 1/100 of space available and they will remain fixed without do anything. 

Also the tube-test device is more well adapted for this small colony, connected to a feed-box, open hunting area treated with repulsive as below, this 2 device will do the happiness of your colony expect a demographic expansion.

Finally if you have a very important colony (more than 200 individuals), you can do a anthill in plaster, concrete gas, horizontal or vertical...