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Water: Essential to all living things, our queens come in test tubes with a small water supply for transport. We recommend using the spare test tube provided to prepare a new test tube if the water source runs our or moulding occurs. Once you have a stronger colony don't forget to provide a constant water source or to hydrate their nests as needed (amount varies between species).
Food: Sugars for queens and workers to keep them going, protein to help larvae grow. Careful not to over-feed as mould can grow and spread diseases. Pre-killing your feeder insects is the best way to make sure your ants don't get hurt. Be sure to do this as humanely as possible!
Oxygen: Though your small little friends will still need access to fresh air, this is done in the founding stage through lightly stuffed cotton balls at the entrance to the test tube or having an outworld with aerating holes or slots to allow airflow.
Darkness: An ants best friend, our setups are an attempt to mimic the natural nest setup out in the wild. Being in the dark is a stress relief for all ants and allows them to slow down and feel safe. Exposure to light means your ant has to be on guard for threats and can cause stress.
Space: Try not to invade their space too often, something as simple as feeding time can be stressful and keeping your ants happy, healthy and growing will allow you to have them as pets for many years. Keeping your nests in the dark and observing the workers in the outworld is the best way to enjoy your colony. Feel free to jazz it up and put some thought into how you would like to present your outworlds before introducing your colonies.
Claustral: Queens that are kept in an enclosed chamber (test tube) during the initial stage of colony founding. These queens usually live off energy stored in their wing muscles until their first workers arrive and a foraging area added once they reach 10+ workers for medium sized ants and 20-40+ for smaller ants.
Semi-Claustral: Queens that are kept in a basic setup with a foraging area (test tube and tub enclosure) during colony founding. These queens will hunt for sugars and proteins until their first workers arrive and take over these duties.
Claustral Queens: Only need feeding once their first workers arrive, you can then begin providing small amounts (about the size of a pin head) of sugary substances such as honey once a week and small amounts of protein (cricket legs, mealworms, etc.) for the new workers to collect and provide to the next batch of brood (larvae).
Semi-Claustral Queens: Need to be provided with sugars and proteins even in the founding stage. Provide your queen with sugary substances once a week (about the size of a pin head). Also provide your queen with protein (cricket legs, mealworms, etc.) once every three days if she has a brood (larvae).
NOTE: As your colony grows, you will need to take notice of what foods they prefer and regulate the frequency and amount of food you input to keep them happy. Also, make sure to remove discarded or un-eaten protein and sugars before feeding again and skip feeding if food is untouched since the last feed to prevent moulding and waste.
There are multiple factors that could be causing your queen to not lay.
Temperature, light, food, water access and stress could all contribute.
NOTE: If you have caught a wild queen there is a chance she is infertile/unmated. For information on wild caught queens, see the link under "Information" 1a: Finding/found your first queen.
To reduce the likelihood of these factors, keep your queen or colony in a warm (21 degrees Celsius) dark place with a access to a test tube of water and only check on them briefly once every 2 weeks for claustral queens and once every 4-7 days for semi-claustral queens to supply fresh protein and sugar.
It's hard to resist the urge to view your ants whenever you want, but reducing stress when in their founding stage is crucial for growing your colony. Exposing them to light and movement can cause queens to not lay, stress eat their eggs or leave their brood to die.
All of our ants have a recommended setup and information on size and growth rate of the colony.
Doing research on the species of ant you are after for colony growth and general size will automatically rule out some nests and outworlds.
Purchasing too small a setup will mean further expense in the future and hassle moving your colony.
To save time and money, we recommend having expandable/joint nests or nests with sections that can be blocked off and/or opened as the colony grows.
If you put in the time, you are also able to control the size of your colony by restricting food input and, for some species, allowing the queen to stop laying during colder times of the year.
These are the most common reasons that your workers will die suddenly: old age, stress, poisoning, overfeeding, underfeeding, dehydration, drowning, temperature, getting stuck or crushed.
Why and how to reduce each type of death:
What to do if you put the colony back to phase one (queen with brood or just the queen)?
It can be quite saddening when your plans for your colony aren't what you originally aspired for. But don't worry! With the right amount of attention and some more patience there is a high chance your queen will have workers again. Simply follow the same rules as a fresh queen with the added need to feed her once a week as she may have digested the energy in her wing-muscles and you'll be back to having a growing colony in no time.
Semi-claustral queens need a small outworld from the start to hunt for and obtain food, but you will need to provide a larger outworld as the colony grows.
Claustral queens are kept just in their test tube starter home until they have enough workers to venture out, have a security detail and nanny ants. Connecting them to an outworld without enough workers will cause undue stress.
Small Species: Pheidole and Iridomyrmex species, for example, should have 20+ workers, the more the better! Smaller species are often faster growers, so it should only take a couple of generations to get to the required number.
Medium/Large Species: Camponotus species are a good example for a range of medium to large ants. Having roughly 10+ workers will suffice for release into a small outworld.
NOTE: Remember to take small steps. Gradual upgrades to the size of your colony's nest and hunting grounds are better then placing a new colony in a too-large enclosure and, again, causing undue stress.
Most observed ant species cover excess food in what ever is available to try to hide the scent of it. Over-feeding is the most common reason for this. It is a natural behaviour and is simply done to try to stop ants from other colonies coming into your colony's nest/foraging area.
Of course in our man-made environments, ants don't mix so there is little reason to keep it as it can be an eye sore, so clean the area and adjust your feeding amounts for future.
Be careful not to over-feed your ants! Wild ants can and will try to invade your outworlds and nests if given a chance.
We do not sell live ants outside of Australia. No exceptions.
Unfortunately due to bio-security laws, we are unable to sell our queens to residents of Western Australia or Tasmania.