Rearing ant colonies with queens, my other hobby! (Large Pics!)

Discussion in 'Hobbies' started by Pet Duck Boy, May 22, 2010.

  1. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Well, it's anting season again in Florida and I'm finally starting to capture the first queens of 2010. I've always been interested in ants since I was 8, and have had numerous milton antfarms over the past years. Maybe 6 of them, and each with 25 ordered ants. But just a year ago, after my 7th set of ordered ants died. It got really boring....watching ants tunnel was fun at first....but they only lived about a month or two! I wanted a continuous supply of ants and I also wanted to see their full behavior, caring for the queen, brood, and eventually rearing reproductive alates. (Fancy word for winged ants) So I did a little research...and I found out ant colonies were pretty popular in the UK. Because many ants can't tolerate the chilly winters there, it was comepletely legal to ship non-native and native ants there. While that is illegal in the US...because of the risk of introducing more ants like the fire ant and argentine ant. There were several online stores for shipping formicariums (Another fancy word for antfarm [​IMG]) live queens, full ant colonies, and plenty more. That got me really jealous. After a few more weeks I finally found a reliable AMERICAN ant forum, which was pretty much the only US ant forum. I learned I could either attempt to capture a colony by digging (Not reliable, can easily squish the queen(s) and lose them in the dirt) or in wood (Pretty easy, good for capturing capenter ants) or the hard part, wait for a nuptail flight. Now just about everyone has seen these....you know, flying ants. They all come swarming out of their mound and fly into the air to mate. In other parts of the US that isn't hard, but in Florida that's a different story. Nuptial flights usually take place during spring-fall and happen on warm and humid days....well, if you've ever been to FL you know every day is warm and humid. Meaning nuptails can happen ANYTIME....but they mostly happen art night here. Anyways, to make a long story short I had about 18 colonies last year, but the heatpad I had them under malfunctioned and fried them all. So I had to wait till now, and I finally got my hands on a few queens. And a mature colony that has finally become active. My friend who I met on the USA ant forum (Also known as Mikey Bustos from canadian idol, he also loves ants when not singing) has opened an online store that sells quailty formicarys for ants to the USA, though pricey they are well worth it for me. I own a few now. His ant site - http://www.mikeybustos.ca/antscanada.asp

    Here's
    one of the 4 queens I caught the other night, after she laid her first batch of eggs. (Species Dorymyrmex bureni, common name: cone ant or pryamid ant)

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    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  2. AHappychick

    AHappychick Wanna-be Farmer

    5,772
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    Dec 16, 2008
    westchester
    wow thats very cool. Good Luck [​IMG]
     
  3. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Quote:Thanks....[​IMG]
     
  4. chicken+quail=luv

    chicken+quail=luv Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 18, 2008
    Strawberry fields.
    So cool! I, too, am very interested in ants. I used to go out with a cracker, crush it into pieces, and watch the ants take it away, carrying it together. It was so cool! We also had an ant colony thinga-ma-jig, where a bunch of worker ants made tunnels and stuff. I thought it was cool, but it would have been oh so much cooler if it had actually been a real, full colony. [​IMG] How did you catch the queens?
     
  5. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    *chicken+quail=luv* :

    So cool! I, too, am very interested in ants. I used to go out with a cracker, crush it into pieces, and watch the ants take it away, carrying it together. It was so cool! We also had an ant colony thinga-ma-jig, where a bunch of worker ants made tunnels and stuff. I thought it was cool, but it would have been oh so much cooler if it had actually been a real, full colony. [​IMG] How did you catch the queens?

    Here in Florida most nuptial flights take place after dark, I simply turn on the bright light next to my front door at night and I'll often find delate (Wingless and most likely fertile) queens attracted by the light during flight season. For most places it happens on a warm humid day, most likely after it has rained. Take a walk while scanning the ground, and depending on your local species it isn't hard to locate a queen. Most will be seen scurrying around the ground, looking for a place to nest, and sometimes digging. Queens with wings are most likely infertile, but even then not all queens shed their wings off after mating. Though once the first workers appear they will always clip the wings if a queen still has them. Of course you need to gather as many as possible, because even in captivity the chances of a queen forming a succesful colony are still very low, 10% maybe?​
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  6. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    My other mature colony has produced reproductives! Young queens and males! This paticular species mates inside the nest. I already have 15 queens in the colony, once the males mate with the queens there will be triple as many!
     
  7. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Mating Pogonomyrmex badius - The Florida harvester ant. These are the ants you get in the mail for the uncle milton antfarms, I'll have plenty of workers from this queen in a few years! The blur is due to the males moving so fast, trying to get to the queen. Most ants typically mate in the air, hundreds of feet above ground. But this paticular harvester is extremely aggresive when it comes to mating, as you can see from the pics. Winged queens typically don't fly off when starting a new colony, but hang around the nest entrance. Males come on their own from other colonies, snag the queens, and mate. It's not uncommon for a queen of P. badius to mate with several males at a time, this queen mated 3 times. I could tell due to the 3 dead males several hours after I removed the queen. Males die after mating, as it is their only purpose.

    The queen is the larger ant with the big head in the middle, if you're wondering.

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    Last edited: Jun 6, 2010
  8. seismic wonder2

    seismic wonder2 I got mad ninja skills

    Feb 3, 2007
    san diego ca
    I used to make my own with wood and two sheets of class. I may get back into it. Here in So-Cal we have several species to choose from. unfortunately, we also have too mane Argentine ants that are a pain.
     
  9. Bantimna

    Bantimna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 29, 2009
    South Africa
    Wow....Really Cool!
    I also started my own ant farm about 2 years ago. It didn't work well, and I ended up giving it away. [​IMG]
    Yours looks are awesome, and I have to watch this thread.....subscribing! [​IMG]
     
  10. Pet Duck Boy

    Pet Duck Boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Camponotus floridanus, the florida carpenter ant with her first set of workers.

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    Crematogaster ashmeadi queen, with her first eggs. This is the type of ant that often holds their abdomens above their heads, they trail along fences all the time.

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    Tetramorium caespitum queen, first set of brood. I finally got a good focused shot on this one.

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