FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Welcome to FormiCanada's FAQ and the wonderful world of ants! Here are a couple frequently asked questions concerning the growing hobby of ant keeping. This page will continue to grow as time passes. For any specific questions that you may have, please dont hesitate to contact us in the form below.
I'M A BEGINNER. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA ABOUT ANTS OR HOW TO KEEP THEM, BUT MYSELF OR SOMEONE I KNOW IS INTERESTED TO KEEP THEM. WHAT DO I NEED TO START WITH?
It is really important to research what type of species you want before you get started. If you don't have the time to during the week, try finding time in your spare time to at least make some simple google searches. Try simple words and phrases such as "Carpenter ant" or "keep ant colony" to get started. You will find an endless stream of information on Google which will help you visually and factually image the type of ant that is right for you. It is also important to ask questions, so feel free to join our Facebook group "The Global Ant Passion" for any help that you need with keeping your ant colony. There are also many visual references on YouTube which will help guide you!
I'VE FOUND MY QUEEN, I KNOW WHAT SPECIES SHE IS, BUT HOW DO I KEEP HER?
Once you've discerned your ant's ID correctly and you've done the research, you're going to want to look into an ant farm. There are tons of different varieties out there. This can be good, and it also can be bad. Ant farms can be made in a wide variety of ways. Acrylic, cement, plastic, plaster, PLA (3-D printed), classic sand/dirt box, etc. You're going to need to know what requirements must be met before you decide and what to watch out for. For example, cement and PLA nests may contain leaking chemicals over time which can potentially harm your ants. It has also been recorded that some ants will actually chew through the coarse plastic PLA. In my opinion, these are something to watch out for. Acrylic and plastic nests are OK, but they also can be tough to keep humidity requirements. Sand and dirt set-ups are great, but they also may contain harmful mites or organisms that could potentially hurt your colony. Gel ant farms are not suitable for any ant species as they mold and can kill your colony quickly! Each nest must be properly suited to the type of ant for optimal results.
I'VE ACQUIRED MY ANT QUEEN/ANT COLONY, I'VE DONE MY RESEARCH, I'VE PURCHASED OR MADE AN OPTIMAL FORMICARIUM FOR MY ANTS. WHAT DO I FEED THEM? WHEN DO I FEED THEM?
Feeding depends on a variety of factors. Upon your research, you will read up on your ants' diet and preferred food items. Another important factor is colony size. Is your colony small? Is it large? How many workers are present? If you have no workers in your colony, you'll need to discern whether your queen is Fully-Claustral, Semi-Claustral, or a Social Parasite.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FULLY-CLAUSTRAL, SEMI-CLAUSTRAL AND SOCIAL PARASITE QUEENS AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
A foundress queen which is fully-claustral does not have the need to forage and leave her nest during the founding stage. These types of queens are typically the bulkiest of the three types. Fully claustral queens seal themselves off in a founding chamber and raise their first workers (nanitics) from their own body reserves. Examples of fully-claustral foundress queens that we carry include Formica incerta, Formica fusca, Formica subsericea, Crematogaster cerasi, Prenolepis imparis, Camponotus novaeboracensis, Camponotus pennsylanicus, Solenopsis molesta, Aphaenogaster fulva, Lasius neoniger, Lasius nearcticus and Tetramorium immigrans. Fully claustral queens are usually the easiest types of queens to start colonies from and are recommended for beginners.
Unlike fully-claustral queens, semi-claustral queens are usually leaner and require a foraging area to raise their first brood. These queens generally can subsist on soft-bodied insect prey and liquid sugars. Although they are not easy to raise, they are a great challenge for beginners who want to progress to something a little more difficult in the ant-keeping hobby. Raising a colony from a semi-claustral queen(s) is very rewarding, yet also riskier. Examples of semi-claustral queens that we carry include Ponera pennsylvanica and Myrmica incompleta. It is very important to research the food requirements for semi-claustral queens!
The third strategy within differentials of ant queen founding is the social parasite. The social parasite does not raise her own brood, nor does she forage. Unlike the previous two, a socially parasitic queen will actually make her mission to infiltrate a host colony of a different species and kill its resident queen. If successful, the parasite queen will chemically mimic the pheromone scent of the host queen and thus assume her identity. These ants are only recommended for the most expert keepers and even then are a monumental challenge. An example of a socially parasitic queen that we carry is Lasius claviger.