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Keeping ants can be a very rewarding experience and, if looked after properly, your ant colony could flourish and last for years, and eventually spawn new queens who may fly to create new colonies elsewhere.

On these pages we will explain how to keep a successful ant colony in the comfort of your own home.

There are several things you need to bear in mind when considering keeping ants; Which species? What type of ant farm? Where will you keep them?

 

Which Species Should I Use?

 

There over over 10,000 described species of ant in the world; some are ideal to keep in ant farms, others are not.  If this is the first time you are keeping ants then I would wholly recommend that you choose a species that is commonly found in your area.  Where I live, for example, the most common ant is Lasius niger, the common black garden ant.  These ants are ideal as they do not sting and very rarely bite, unless the nest is disturbed.  They are also very active ants and a lot easier to keep than many other species.  Other species to consider would be Lasius flavus, Myrmica rubra, Tapinoma erraticum or Tetramorium caespitum.  If you plan on keeping your ants in a small, traditional slim ant farm, then choose a smaller species, such as the ones mentioned above.  If you have a large tank available then you could opt for a large species such as Formica fusca.

 

What Type of Ant Farm Should I use?

 

There are several factors to take into account when deciding which type of ant farm to use, such as; which species are you wanting to keep?  As mentioned above, the more traditional slim ant farms are ideal for the smaller species of ants, whilst a glass tank would be better for larger ants.  Personally, I like to mix the two types together in using the Starter Kit from the German company Ant Store (see Contact page for a link to their site).  Space is another factor; if you do not have much space to keep an ant farm, then perhaps a tank may not be the best type for you to use.  

©  Alex Wild

Slim Ant Farms

 

These are the more popular ant farms and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and can be made from plastic or glass.  They start relatively cheap but can be quite expensive, though of course you can build your own.  These sort of ant farms are ideal for beginners and allow you a full view of the inside of an ant nest, but can be a little restrictive if the ants are too large.  However, I tend to use this type as the “nesting box” with a tube attaching it to a small “foraging tank”.  I would recommend covering the sides of these type of ant farms with a dark material when you are not looking at the ants, as they hate light getting into their nests. Slim ant farms can  stand vertically or lay horizontally, and can contain sand, soil, or plaster among other things.

Tanks

These are very good for large species of ants, large colonies, or for providing your ants with a more ‘realistic’ environment in which they can dig in any direction, and have plenty of foraging space.  The downside is that they will more than likely tunnel away from the sides of the glass, therefore preventing you from seeing the inside of the nest. They can also take up more space in wherever you keep them, and it can be difficult preventing escapes, unless you have a good sealing lid.
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