How to set up your live queen ant farm?
Well, for most of us, that's not rocket science so we can handle it with ease but for a newbie, it's not that easy. Where to start, how to set up your live queen ant farm, how much substrate to put and where it should be levelled to and should moist and how much, where to feed the ants and how often, how to water the nest, how to clean the outworld and the nest and tons of similar questions pops up constantly. So, let's begin.
First of all, keep in mind that we'll feed the live ants before dispatch also once you receive your ant farm and ant colony, leave the parcel unopened for 4-5 hours at room temperature so your ants can get used to their new environment. Avoiding toxins built up in your ants due to abrupt temperature changes is essential.
Then check if your queen ant is safe and sound and leave your ants for 4-5 days to relax after their journey to you. Please keep your queen ant and her worker ants in a dark place with no vibrations, at a room temperature of 20-26 C (away from daily household activities).
Do not disturb and Do not feed your ant colony during this period. Checking them once 24 hours after arrival is enough.
Ant Farm preparation and assembling.
Preparing your ant farm must be done as soon as possible. Why? The earlier you set it up the better for your ants later on. Keep reading and you'll catch up. Before you connect the ant's test tube you should water the nest with mineral or purified (distilled) water only (the watering hole is where the yellow Greek sponge is). Pour 1-3ml mineral water using the pipette provided with the kit once a week.
You should pour water until one or two drops leak through the nest's hole. The water will be soon absorbed into the nest substrate. Keep an eye on the humidity and reduce the water amount if needed. During the summer you should pour more and the opposite in the winter months. Tap water may cause mould (fungus) to appear. The mould is hazardous to all ant species.
Put the ant substrate provided in the outworld so it levels to the bottom part of the connecting acrylic tubes.
Fill the water test tube with mineral water, then put the cotton ball on so it’s well sucked with water and connect to the outworld. Change the water once a month or if looks contaminated (changes colour or looks cloudy) or if it's run out.
Connect the nest to the outworld using the silicone connecting kit provided in the set. Secure it with the clips. Leave the whole setup assembled waiting until your ants chill due to the delivery stress (4-5 days is recommended). The nest area will be well-humid and ready for ants' accommodation.
Decorating the outworld.
Use the artificial plants included to decorate the ants' arena in a way you feel looks great for them and yourselves.
You can always add a few pebbles, small twigs, sea shells, dried moss etc. to your ants' outworld to make it beautiful and more comfortable for your tiny friends:)
Do not water the substrate inside the outworld at all. Feed your ants into the outworld ONLY. How to feed your ant colony?
Once your ant colony is ready for transfer to their new home, you must be as gentle as possible. Remove the cotton ball from the ants' 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 fortnite and after that start to slide it out just 1-2mm daily.
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 hours to up to a few months during the hibernation period. If they do not move inside the nest once fully exposed to daylight, put the tinfoil back and repeat the same procedure after two weeks.
Feed them into the outworld only! You should feed them protein-rich food and sweets twice a week. For instance, feed your ants live insects or protein jelly every Monday and Friday. Give them sweets, organic honey or fruit (half a grape, a similar amount of a banana etc.) on Wednesday and Saturday. How much? Well, for a small colony with a queen ant and about fifty workers, the amount of the protein jelly must be similar to the size of a single rice grain. Regarding the live food, feed them mealworms, locusts, crickets or similar and do not forget to kill any possible microbes or mites the live food might be contaminated with.
How? Just put it in boiling water for ten seconds minimum and fifteen seconds maximum, then chop it in half and put it in the ants' outworld using a tiny piece of tinfoil as a tray. Use a small cotton ball to pour a drop or two of the organic honey to prevent ants from getting stuck and drowning. Now, the most important part is always to discard any remaining ant food after 2 days or fungus may appear.
How to feed your ants Organic Honey and Protein Jelly? Video instructions? Click HERE!
Harvester ants need mainly seeds so the golden rule is: 1 seed per ant per month. Feed them every two weeks (half dosage, for instance: 30 ants = 15 seeds every two weeks).
The first feeding dose must be doubled. Keep an eye on their food storage so they have one chamber full of seeds all the time.
If you do not want to deal with escaped ants, which is a common issue while you feed them, apply about an inch wide of our PTFE Fluon. It is a full-strength product and lasts for months, a non-stick material that creates an impenetrable barrier against crawling insects. The ants will not be able to crawl out due to the very slippery surface and will fall back into the outside world. Apply about an inch layer at the top edge of the outworld. Re-apply another layer once needed.
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. Your ant setup must be kept in a no-vibrations place (away from daily household activity) at room temperature. Avoid direct sunlight on your setup or you will boil the ants alive.
Find a suitable place keeping in mind the aforementioned and make sure your setup is away from your TV, loudspeakers or any devices associated with vibrations. Your PC or laptop desk won't be a great idea either, imagine someone tapping on a giant keyboard right across your bedroom.
Any temperature between 20 and 26 degrees is suitable for most ant species.
Please refer to your ants' Care Sheet, you can download it by clicking HERE.
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 either black acrylic or 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.
Now, a priceless tip for the most curious and passionate amongst you. Getting a cheap Wireless Home IP Camera will allow you to enjoy every evening (or when daylight is not enough to trigger the camera's night vision) as much as you want. Once the night (infrared) function vision is on, you can watch and enjoy your tiny friends on your smartphone without removing either the ant farm's red filter or black cover. The IR light passes through both with ease. So no more stress for your ants and satisfaction for you even in an old-fashioned black and white live show.
Because the ants' temperature and humidity needs are different and we're building our nests according to that particular requirement, the vertical and horizontal nests are designed in a different manner. For instance, the queen ant chamber needs different conditions than the first brood stage development chamber which is also different for the second brood stage one, etc. We have tested every single ant farm with the common beginner-friendly ant species for three years before launching it on the market. The hot and cold airflow inside the nest is essential as well. Let's have a quick look at the Antie Ant Farm as an example.
Ambient - 23.4 °C
Nest Meter -24.9 °C
ZONE 1 - 28.0 °C
ZONE 2 - 28.3 °C
ZONE 3 - 25.6 °C
Outworld - 24.0 °C
Zone 1 has three subzones: queen, first and second brood development.
Zone 2 also has three subzones and there is the ants' kitchen where they prepare their food.
Zone 3 has four subzones and is the food storage and "living" area.
The temperature and humidity meter stopped working. What to do?
Do not panic. It is a DIY job. You must replace the batteries. It's a good idea to get the replacement batteries first.
Tips for beginners.
Colonies failed due to a lack of fresh water supply, lack of food and mostly due to a stressed-out queen.
Change the water once every month or if it looks contaminated (changes colour or looks cloudy).
Avoid direct sunlight on the setup.
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.
Do not forget: It is your responsibility to ensure you have undertaken enough research to be able to look after the insects and provide them with the correct conditions.
Any questions you may have, please feel free to contact us by clicking HERE. Happy "anting" :) Thank you.