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Old 04-09-2018, 12:20 PM   #1
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Default Finding ant queens

Hi!
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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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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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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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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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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Old 09-20-2018, 01:53 PM   #6
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Wow! Thanks for the great advice. I already don't heat my ants mainly because the kitchen I keep them in stays around 81 degrees. We run minimum AC in my home.
So would you recommend not hibernating the tetramoriums? I was thinking of moving them into my cooler basement for a few weeks and then into a mini-fridge that stays at 42-43 degrees. Should I just keep them in a cooler room then to naturally slow down? Or will they be fine just staying where they are as the room temperature drops in the winter? I run minimum heat too, so our house is about 60 degrees in the winter.
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:58 PM   #7
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Also, can I still hope to find lasius neoniger down here in Virginia? Would they fly later since I'm further south?
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:03 PM   #8
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No need to hibernate Tetramorium at all. Just be sure to feed them dead insects, sugar water, ground up cookies (they should go nuts for Chip's Ahoy's pecan flavor).



Yes on possibly catching the Lasius. Flights for L. neoniger start up in Canada and work their way south as cooler days trigger them.
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Old 09-22-2018, 04:43 PM   #9
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Very interesting! So I will take your advice and just let them slow down a bit in my cooler home temps during winter. I also found three crematogaster queens at the start of September. I have them in tt set ups now. How should I get them through the winter?
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Old 09-22-2018, 10:25 PM   #10
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Test Tubes are "fine" for queens starting out just make sure they don't run out of water or they'll have to be moved (usually dumped) or connected to a new tube with water.



If they have workers it's best to move them into something larger, ideally where they're not reliant on a test tube for water. Hydrostone or "plaster setups" connected to a larger foraging area are perfect for viewing the colony and feeding them. It's best that the foraging area be at least wide enough so that you can just put their current test tube inside and they'll hopefully move out on their own.



A foraging area (or Outworld as Ants Canada annoyingly renamed it) should be kept BONE DRY!!! Ants will take advantage of wet soil or other media if they can. It's fine if they bring a little in their test tube setup or hydrostone nest or whatever but not okay if they're nesting in the foraging area because you won't be able to see if they need food or escaped.



Crematogaster queens sometimes don't lay until late winter. In fact you might luck out and find one in a flower pot or under a rock or something when things warm up in February or later.
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