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Old 04-09-2018, 12:20 PM   #1
Helianthus's Avatar
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Alexandria, VA
Default Finding ant queens

I just bought a small ant farm from eBay, and now I'm trying to find a queen ant to start up a colony in it. I was wondering if any of you had any experience finding swarming queens in the spring? I live in Virginia. Any advice would be appreciated.

My nearly two year old son is getting really bug crazy, so I'm hoping to get a colony going so we can watch it grow together. He will flip out!

I think I saw a queen the other day, but she slipped away into my compost bin
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Old 04-09-2018, 12:27 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Michigan

I thought you sent for the ants to go with the set...Maybe they send only the workers? I recall them coming in a little test tube.
Good sized ants like the carpenters. MrIlovetheants surely would know how to answer you on that one!

I see ant swarms in the fall not the Spring
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Old 04-09-2018, 03:11 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Central Ohio

You only get workers with an ant farm. That gets around the laws on shipping insects across state lines.

When ants are swarming, I've never tried to sex the winged/alates ants. Thinking about it, I don't even know how to do it. I guess I'd look for an ovipositor with my microscope. You would also have to hope you had found a pregnant one. I don't know if the new queen starts a nest with some help or if she is on her own. Might vary by species. All this is making me realize how little I know about ants. Does our resident ant expert post here any more?

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Old 09-14-2018, 12:58 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Alexandria, VA

Happy to report that I did manage to find several queens this summer. It's been quite an adventure learning about the different species in my area and tracking their nuptial flights. I searched for weeks and weeks without finding anything, and I was about to lose hope. Then, on June 16th I found two tetramorium immigrans queens crawling right in front of me after eating breakfast outside on my patio. Both are living in little test tube nests now and are thriving with 60+ workers and more on the way!
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Old 09-14-2018, 03:38 PM   #5
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: New Jersey

I'm sorry I didn't notice this thread sooner. We're right at the end of the anting season where I am. Lasius neoniger, L. pallitarsis, L. brevicornis (formerly L. flavus), and Lasius nearcticus all flew this week and will likely continue into next week. Lasius claviger will be flying about a month later but they're social parasites and not something a beginner should tackle.

With your Tetramorium immigrans, we're entering a time where everyone in the hobby starts talking and worrying about hibernating colonies.... Don't! That's not to say it will be harmful if you do. But this is a species that thrives and regularly seeks out warm sunny settings to incubate their brood. They're called pavement ants because they love those kinds of settings and likely become miserable when they can't get this.

Likewise you'll be tempted to incubate your ant colony.... Don't! Not unless their setup is fairly wide and expansive And they have explored every inch of it! It's really easy to accidentally cook your ants so it's important they be housed in something where they have options.

There was someone in Florida who caught 6 fire ant queen and started them all in test tubes. She didn't want to wait the 3 weeks it takes for their brood to develop so she put all of them on a heating pad, AGAINST MY ADVICE!!! And she killed all of her ants. I don't think she keeps ants anymore.

Good luck with your ants.

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