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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the easiest ant species for a beginner ant keeper?

Beginner-friendly species are Lasius Niger, Lasius Flavus and Messor Barbarus. Lasius species are native to the UK. We'll recommend getting the Messor Barbarus ant colony. Their queen ant is way bigger and more interesting, also, they have major and super-major workers along with the normal-sized ones and their main food is seeds. Happy "anting"!

2. What should I do upon the ants’ arrival?

Please note that we'll feed the ants before dispatch. Also once received, leave the parcel unopened for 4-5 hours at room temperature at least so your ants can get used to their new environment. Then check if your queen ant is safe and sound and then leave your ants for 4-5 days to relax after their journey to you. Please keep them in a dark and no-vibrations place at a room temperature of 20-26 C (away from daily household activities). Now, it's time to read carefully the Care sheet for your new pet ants so please click on the button below. An article you must read before you go any further: https://www.bestantsuk.com/post/how-to-set-up-your-live-queen-ant-farm

3. How to set up my new ant farm?

Before you connect the ant's test tube you should water the nest with mineral (bottled) water only (the watering hole is where the yellow Greek sponge is). Pour 1-3ml mineral water (depending on the size of your ant setup) once a week. Keep an eye on the humidity and reduce the water amount if needed. Tap water may cause fungus to appear. Fungus is deadly to most ant species. Fill the water test tube with mineral water, then put the cotton on so it’s well sucked with water and connect to the outworld. Do the same with the second watering test tube and connect it to the nest. Connect the nest to the outworld. Leave the whole setup like so for a day at least (2-3 days is recommended). Then remove the cotton ball out of the queen's test tube and connect it to the nest carefully using the queen connection kit provided. Wrap the ant’s test tube with tinfoil and leave it there for the first 10-14 days and after that start to slide it out just 1mm every day. Please be patient, your ants won’t move into the nest if they are not ready and it might take from just a couple of days to up to 4-5 months during the hibernation period. Your ant setup must be kept in a no-vibrations place (away from daily household activity) at room temperature. Any temperature between 20 and 26 degrees is suitable for most ant species. The red acrylic filter must stay on top of the nest all the time, you can remove it once a week for 2-3 minutes to have a better look at your colony. The same rule applies to wooden covers. Placed on top all the time. You can remove it for up to 5 minutes daily and enjoy your queen ant with the red filter on. Colonies failed due to a lack of fresh water supply, lack of food and mostly due to a stressed-out queen. Do not water the substrate inside the outworld at all. Feed your ants into the outworld ONLY. Don’t expose your ants to direct sunlight or any heat/light source (lamps/bulbs) trying to move them inside the nest quicker or you may harm your queen ant. Articles you must read before you go any further: https://www.bestantsuk.com/post/how-to-set-up-your-new-ant-farm

4. I'm a beginner ant keeper. How do I choose the best ant species and beginner-friendly ant farm?

Great beginner species are Lasius Niger (black garden ants), Lasius Flavus (yellow meadow ants), Myrmica Rubra (fire ants) and Messor Barbarus (harvester ants). Link to all available ants below: https://www.bestantsuk.com/live-ants-and-ant-food Beginner-friendly complete setups available listed below: Option 1: A7 PLUS Hybrid Nest with Sand Bed and Small Arena Complete Beginner Ant Setup (the best beginner-friendly ant setup) https://www.bestantsuk.com/product-page/a7-plus-hybrid-nest-with-sand-bed-and-small-arena-complete-beginner-ant-setup Option 2: Complete A6 PLA Ant Setup Hybrid Nest with Meter and Outworld https://www.bestantsuk.com/product-page/complete-a6-pla-ant-setup-hybrid-nest-and-outworld-formicarium-farm-housing Option 3: Ant A5 PLA Sand Bed Formicarium Farm Housing Outworld Complete Set (lots of beginner ant colonies available) https://www.bestantsuk.com/product-page/ant-farm-a5-sand All the products listed on our website are available for immediate dispatch. We do post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday ONLY. Please note that we will feed the ants before dispatch so follow the instructions on the label attached to the ants' test tube. Please keep your ant setup at room temperature and no-vibration place, away from daily household activities. The temperature suitable for your ant species may vary so please refer to the care sheets available on our website. You will find the instructions video and downloadable PDF care sheet file on our website's product listing description. Any other questions please let us know.

5. I'd like to place an order for arrival on Xmas & Birthday

You can place an order at any time and let us know when exactly you would like to deliver your order. Just add a message to the "Add a note" box in your basket while placing the order. All the products listed on our website are available for either immediate or postponed dispatch. We do post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday ONLY. Please note that we will feed the ants before dispatch so you can keep them inside the parcel for not more than two weeks before the big day. Please keep your order at room temperature and no-vibrations place away from daily household activities. You'll find instructions videos and downloadable care sheets on our website's listing's description. Any other questions please let us know.

6. Ants do not want to move inside the nest, what should I do?

Please be patient, your ants won’t move into the nest if they are not ready and it might take from just a couple of days to up to 4-5 months. Please, wrap the ant’s test tube with tinfoil and leave it there for the first 10-14 days and after that start to slide it out just 1mm every day. Your ant setup must be kept in a no-vibration place (away from daily household activity) at room temperature. Any temperature between 20 and 26 degrees is suitable for most ant species. The red acrylic filter must stay on top of the nest all the time, you can remove it once a week for 2-3 minutes to have a better look at your colony. The same rule applies to the black acrylic cover. Placed on top all the time. You can remove it for up to 5 minutes daily to enjoy your queen ant with the red filter on. Colonies failed due to lack of fresh water supply, lack of food and mostly due to a stressed-out queen. Do not water the substrate inside the outworld at all. Feed your ants into the outworld ONLY. Don’t expose your ants to direct sunlight or any heat/light source (lamps/bulbs) trying to move them inside the nest quicker or you may harm your queen ant. Find out more in the article explaining all the reasons:

7. What Do Ants Eat?

From Sugar to Insects: What Do Ants Eat. Read this article.

8. How to look after a Lasius Niger (Black Garden Ant Farm at home)?

Oh, that's a million-dollar question for any beginner ant keeper. Well, not anymore. Read this article.

9. How to look after a Lasius Flavus (Yellow Meadow Ant Farm at home)?

This is one of the best ant species for beginners and is easy to keep.

Start your ant-keeping journey with genuine knowledge about Lasius Flavus to experience the wonders of these fascinating creatures who lived on our planet millions of years before us. Read this article.

10. How to look after a Messor Barbarus (Harvester Ants Care)?

The Messor Barbarus also known as the harvester ants, is a common and easy-to-keep species for ant enthusiasts. The Messor Barbarus ants do not sting, but the major workers are so big they can bite you, it's more like tickling and not so painful though depending on your skin type. Read this article.

11. How do I choose an Ant Farm Kit? Everything You Need to Know Before Making a Purchase

Ant farms have long been a source of fascination for both children and adults. These miniature ecosystems offer a unique glimpse into the intricate world of ants, their complex tunnels, and their industrious society. But are ant farms truly worth the time and investment? Read this article.

12. What is the Queen Ant Lifespan?

The Life Cycle of an Ant: from egg to adult. Let's have a closer look at the ant stages in the most common ant species in the UK - Lasius Niger (Black ants) ants: The eggs hatch in about 21 to 28 days into larvae. Within a further 30-35 days these larvae turn into adult ants. So from a just-laid egg to an adult worker. 6 - 8 weeks and more precisely - egg to larvae: approx. 10 -12 days, larvae to pupae: approx. 10 -14 days, pupae to worker: approx. 10 - 24 days (depending on temperature 20-26 degrees C, the warmer the faster). Lasus Niger queen ant lifespan is up to 28 years and 9 months even in lab conditions. If you want to learn more, please Read this article.

13. How long can you keep a queen ant in a test tube?

To ensure the well-being of the queen ant, she should be placed in a test tube setup, where she can stay for weeks or months until her first group of worker ants, called nanitics, arrive. Antkeepers typically use test tubes to house queen ants because this setup creates an environment similar to an underground chamber, which is ideal for a newly mated queen. You must cover the test tube with tinfoil or similar to ensure the queen's chamber is completely dark.  Find out everything about the antkeeping hobby: Benefits of Antkeeping: A Unique Pet Choice in the UK

14. How frequently should you check on the queen ant?

Only inspect the queen ant and her brood once a week, ensuring her well-being and monitoring the progress of her offspring. For freshly caught queens, you should provide a test tube setup and you can check on them after one month. We recommend starting your ant-keeping journey with 5-7 queens, caught during the nuptial flight, to ensure you'll have at least one well-developed colony ready for an ant farm at the end. Excessive disturbance can hinder the queen ant from initiating her egg-laying process, result in her consuming all the eggs she has already laid, or even lead to her demise. The objective is to replicate the conditions of life underground. Therefore, it is advisable to position the test tube in a pitch-black place or wrap the test tube in tinfoil.   Find out more: Ant Farm Essentials: How Crucial is a Queen to an Ant Colony?

15. Where can ants safely hibernate during the winter months?

During the winter months, ants, specifically the ant colony, adopt a state of hibernation to survive the harsh cold. They typically find their dream haven underground where the soil provides insulation from freezing temperatures. The depth of the nest depends on the severity of the winter climate, but it generally needs to be below the frost line. This hibernation period is not only crucial for worker ants, but it is also essential for the queen ant. Her survival ensures the continuity of the colony post-hibernation. Therefore, an appropriate hibernation location is a key factor in an ant colony's winter survival strategy.  You must understand that hibernation is NOT a must and if you can not provide the ants with a proper one, then do not do it at all. The best you can do is to move your ant farm to a colder room or garage for instance. Make sure the lowest temperatures in there are not below 10 degrees Celcius. Find out more: How to set up your live queen ant farm?

16. Why do ants prefer sugar over other food sources?

Ants have a natural inclination towards sugar due to its high energy content. The ant colony thrives on foods that can be easily broken down into simple sugars, providing them with the energy they need to maintain their complex social structures and demanding physical activities. The queen ant, in particular, requires a substantial amount of energy to reproduce and ensure the survival of the colony. Thus, sugary substances become the prime choice for ant food. However, it's essential to note that ants are not exclusive to sugar; they also consume proteins and fats depending on their species-specific dietary needs.  Find out more: From Sugar to Insects: What Do Ants Eat?

17. How do I encourage ant colony growth in captivity?

Encouraging ant colony growth in captivity requires careful provision of essentials for their survival and development. The primary step involves securing a healthy queen ant, who is responsible for the reproduction and expansion of the ant colony. A suitable environment with adequate space and moisture is crucial, as ants thrive in humid conditions. Provide a good supply of Ant food, comprising proteins, sugar, and water, to ensure their nutritional needs are met. It's also important to minimize disturbance to the ants allowing them to focus on colony growth. With these considerations, one can successfully encourage the growth of an ant colony in captivity. How do you make an ant farm? A Step-by-Step Guide

18. When does ant mating season typically start?

The ant mating season typically starts during the warm, humid periods between spring and late summer, although the exact timing can vary depending on the species and geographic location. This is when ants, particularly the queen ant and male ants from the same ant colony, engage in a nuptial flight, also known as the mating flight. This is a critical period for the ant colony as it ensures their survival and continuation. The queen ant mates with multiple males during this flight to store sperm, ensuring the production of future generations.  Find out more: When to Expect the Swarm: Flying Ant Day 2024 in the UK?

19. Where can I find rare species of ants online?

The internet provides a vast platform for individuals interested in finding rare species of ants. Websites such as Best Ants UK and Ants Canada offer a wide variety of ants, including the elusive queen ant and entire ant colonies. These platforms are renowned for their vast ant species list and have been credited for their responsible and ethical practices. Antstore, another reputable online source, provides an opportunity to purchase rare ants from across the globe but they do not ship rare ants outside of Germany. Always ensure to abide by local and international regulations when purchasing and transporting live ants to protect these fascinating creatures' biodiversity.  Find out more: Top 10 Types of Ants for Ant Keepers Ever - Best Ants UK

20. How can I effectively feed a queen ant?

Feeding a queen ant effectively requires a proper understanding of the dietary needs of ants. Queen ants, being the reproductive centre of an ant colony, have specific nutritional requirements that differ from worker ants. The primary food source for ants is a carbohydrate and protein-rich diet. Sugary substances like organic honey and live insects or protein jelly serve as excellent ant food. However, it’s crucial to note that the queen ant typically relies on the worker ants to feed her. Hence, ensuring the overall health of the ant colony will directly benefit the queen ant. Lastly, hydration is equally essential, so provide a steady, fresh (purified or mineral/bottled) water source for your ants. Find out more: Ant Farm Essentials: How Crucial is a Queen to an Ant Colony?

21. Where do ants prefer to build their colonies?

Ants are strategic creatures that choose their nesting sites carefully. The location of an ant colony is influenced by several factors such as soil type, climate, food availability, and safety from predators. The queen ant, the central figure in the ant colony, often selects a site that is moist and close to a food source. Ants can nest in various locations including under rocks, inside logs, along sidewalks, or even within the walls of buildings. While some ants prefer to build their nests underground, others may choose trees or shrubs. Despite the diversity in locations, the primary aim is to ensure the safety and survival of the queen ant and her colony.  Find out more: The Hidden Ants Universe: The Life of a Queen Ant in the Nest

22. What are the best conditions for ant farm setup?

The best conditions for an ant farm setup require careful consideration of the specific needs of an ant colony. Firstly, the presence of a queen ant is crucial as she is responsible for laying eggs and maintaining the population of the colony. The farm should also include nesting space and an outworld for ants to breed and forage. The environment should be kept moist and warm, mimicking the natural habitat of ants. Furthermore, a suitable supply of food and fresh water based on the species’ diet is essential for their survival and growth. Lastly, the ant farm should be placed in a location with minimal disturbance to allow ants to behave naturally.  Find out more: How to set up your live queen ant farm?

23. Where can I find queen ants in summer?

Oh, the thrill of the hunt for queen ants in the summer! This is the perfect time to spot them as they leave their nests to start new colonies. Keep your eyes on the ground, especially after a heavy rain, you'll notice winged ants scurrying around – those are your potential queens. Woodpiles, under rocks, or along pavements are great places to start your search. Remember, a queen ant is larger and more noticeable than worker ants. Once you've found her, you'll be on your way to starting a fascinating ant colony or having ants for your ant farm. And remember, most of the fertile queens have their wings removed so look for wingless queen ants. Happy hunting! Find out more: When to Expect the Swarm: Flying Ant Day 2024 in the UK?

24. What nutrients are essential for queen ant's diet?

The nutritional needs of a queen ant are critical in maintaining a healthy and thriving ant colony. Essential nutrients for the queen ant's diet include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Proteins provide the necessary amino acids for the growth and development of the queen ant and her eggs. Carbohydrates serve as a quick source of energy, while fats are crucial for energy storage. Moreover, certain vitamins and minerals are also needed for various metabolic processes. An optimal balance of these nutrients is vital to ensure the queen ant's longevity and reproductive success, thereby promoting the overall health and survival of the ant colony. Never feed processed meats like deli cuts. Find out more: Ant Keeping in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

25. When do ants typically start their annual hibernation?

Ants, particularly those within an ant colony or an ant farm, generally start their annual hibernation during the late fall or early winter. The most important question is why the ants need to hibernate, so here is the logical answer: once the winter kicks in, the lack of food and cold weather force every living creature to slow down its activities to a minimum to survive.  This is typically when temperatures start to drop below their comfort zones. During this period, the queen ant reduces her egg production and the entire colony's activities slow down. The time for hibernation can vary depending on the species and the climate of their habitat. However, regardless of the timing, hibernation plays a crucial role in an ant colony's survival strategy, allowing ants to conserve energy when food sources are scarce.  All mentioned so far is true about the ants in nature but not those in captivity so this process is not a must! You can keep your ants in your ant room without changing anything. The ants will slow down anyway. You will put your colony at risk if you are not familiar with the hibernation process so just skip this step. We have proved this statement many, many times and we keep proving it with our oldest Messor Barbarus colony, 18 years so far without hibernation. Find out more: My Living Ant World

26. Who can identify this  ant species I found?

Isn't it fascinating to discover different species of ants bustling in our gardens, each with their unique characteristics? The little creatures that you've been noticing might be part of a vibrant ant colony. Identifying them could be an intriguing adventure, almost like having your very own ant farm. You might even spot a queen ant! There are several resources available online to help you identify the ants. Remember, each ant species plays a vital role in maintaining our ecosystem. So let's appreciate these little workers and continue to learn more about them. So, come on, who among you ant enthusiasts can identify this fascinating ant species I found? We can! Just contact us and send us a close-up picture.  Find out more: Types of Ants You Can Keep as Pets in the UK

27. Where should I place the ant farm in my house?

The placement of your ant farm within your home is crucial for the health and well-being of your ant colony, including the queen ant. Ideal locations are those that offer indirect sunlight, stable temperatures, and quiet surroundings. Avoid areas near heat sources like radiators or sunny windows, as these can overheat the ants. The sun can heat the nest with up to 5 degrees Celsius for only 5 minutes so lots of toxins are being accumulated in the ants' bodies due to abrupt temperature changes. This can kill a worker ant for 1-3 days and a queen ant for 3-5 days if the sun does not boil the ants alive before that. Similarly, avoid cold spots like unheated basements or near air conditioners, as ants need a consistent temperature to survive. It's also important to consider traffic flow in your house; a high-activity area may disturb your ant farm. Therefore, select a location that provides a balanced environment for your ants to thrive.  Find out more: From Beginner to Pro: Mastering the Art of Ant Keeping and Creating a Thriving Ant Colony

28. Why do ants follow a specific trail pattern?

Ants communicate using pheromone trails so that's the reason marching in a straight line, the same as the soldiers in the army. They release pheromones to mark trails, enabling their fellow ants to follow the scent and locate food sources efficiently. Additionally, these ants are highly organized, with each member of the colony having a specific role, such as foragers, soldiers, and caretakers. Find out more: The Ant Morphology: Understanding Ant Body Parts and Anatomy

29. What is the lifespan of queen ants typically?

A queen ant's lifespan typically surpasses any other member in the ant colony. On average, a queen ant can live for 1-2 years (fire and bullet queen ants), and in some species (Lasius niger Black ants), they can live up to 30 years under optimal lab conditions. This extensive lifespan is instrumental in maintaining the continuity and growth of the ant colony. The queen ant's primary role is reproduction; she lays millions of eggs throughout her lifetime to ensure the survival and expansion of the ants' community. Therefore, a queen ant's longevity is paramount for an ant colony's success and sustainability. Find out more: The Hidden Ants Universe: The Life of a Queen Ant in the Nest

30. How can I encourage ant colony growth in winter?

You can not. If your ants hibernate in nature, no matter what you do, they will slow down their activities and growth. You can try nurturing your ant colony during winter and it can be a fascinating and rewarding endeavour. The key is to create a safe, warm environment for the ants. Start by providing a suitable enclosure, like an ant farm, with ample food sources like sugary substances or protein-based foods. Remember, the queen ant is crucial for the survival and growth of the ant colony, so ensure she is well taken care of. Keep the environment at a constant, warm temperature which can stimulate the ants to continue their normal activities. Your ant colony can still thrive, even during the colder months with the right care and attention. Find out more: Exploring the Factors That May Prevent Ants from Moving in Your Ant Farm

31. When do queen ants typically start laying eggs?

Get ready for the royal procession! The queen ant, the heart of the colony, typically starts laying eggs in the spring and summer, when weather conditions are optimal. Fresh, this year's queen will lay eggs after the nuptial flight and the rest queens, exotic will lay all year round. The queens which are native to the UK, will lay more eggs in the summer months and less or none in the winter. This is a thrilling time in the life cycle of the colony! The queen ant, with her ability to lay thousands of eggs, ensures the survival and growth of her colony. The sight of these tiny miracles of nature is a spectacle to behold! Find out more: The Queen Ant Lifespan: A Closer Look into the Captivating Life Cycle of an Ant

32. Who knows how to start an ant farm?

Starting an ant farm is an exciting adventure! Anyone can learn to create and maintain a thriving ant colony. It begins with sourcing ants for your ant farm. You need to capture or purchase a queen ant, as she is the heart of the colony. Then, you carefully introduce her to the rest of the ants. The process is fascinating and educational, offering a unique way to observe these industrious creatures. So why not take up the challenge? With patience and care, you too can master the art of starting an ant farm. It's time to dive into this wonderful world of ants! Find out more: Ant Farm Kits Everything You Need to Know Before Making a Purchase

33. Why do ants carry their dead to their colony?

Ants exhibit a fascinating social behaviour of carrying their dead back to the ant colony. This behaviour is primarily driven by the need to prevent the spread of diseases. Similar to humans, ants too are susceptible to infections and illnesses. The dead ants might be carriers of pathogens that could potentially harm or kill the queen ant and the rest of the colony. Therefore, by bringing the dead ants back to the colony, they can safely dispose of them, often in a specific refuse pile. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission, ensuring the health and longevity of the ant colony. Find out more: Understanding Ant Colonies and Why Do Ants Carry Their Dead

34. What is the oldest recorded ant in captivity?

The oldest recorded ant in captivity is typically a queen ant, as they live longer than other ants. The longevity of these insects is quite remarkable, especially considering their size and the harsh conditions they often endure in the wild. The record for the oldest ant in captivity belongs to an Australian Lasius Niger queen – Black Garden ant who lived for 29 years in an ant colony maintained under laboratory conditions. This extraordinary lifespan underscores the resilience and survival capabilities of ants, making them fascinating subjects for biological and behavioural studies. Find out more: Ant Farm Essentials: How Crucial is a Queen to an Ant Colony?

35. When to move my ants into an ant farm?

Lasius Niger and Myrmica rubra - once the colony reaches 15+ workers (the same for all Lasius species). M. rubra, L. Niger and Flavus won't grow any further once have 22-27 workers in a test tube setup(16x100mm).

Messor Barbarus - once the colony reaches 15+ workers ( the same for most harvester species). Not a problem to keep in a test tube setup (17x150mm) until 40-50 workers.

Camponatus Nicobarensis  - once the colony reaches 10+ workers (the same for most carpenter species, bigger species like Cruentatus, Ligniperda and Herculeanus could be transferred when have 5-6 workers).

Polyrhachis Dives Weaver Ants for Beginners - once the colony reaches 10+ workers (the same for most Asian/exotic species apart from P. Noda and C. Diversa).

Find out more: Ant-keeping with Best Ants UK.

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