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  • Writer's picturePat & Best Ants UK Team

What Are The Best Ant Species to Keep in the UK


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The Best Ant Species to Keep in the UK are Lasius Niger - Black Garden Ants, Lasius Flavus - Yellow Meadow Ants, Myrmica Rubra - Red Fire Ants and Messor Barbarus - Common Black Harvester Ants. Lasius species are native to the UK.


Ants are fascinating creatures that can make for interesting pets and educational companions. If you're a beginner looking to dive into the world of ant-keeping, it's important to choose the right species that are suitable for life in the UK. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best ant species to keep in the UK, their unique characteristics, and the essentials of ant care. So let's embark on this exciting journey and discover the top ant species that are beginner-friendly and thrive in the UK.


Introduction

Ant-keeping has gained popularity as a rewarding hobby that provides a glimpse into the complex social structures and behaviours of these incredible insects. The UK is home to several ant species, but not all are suitable for beginners. In this guide, we will focus on the top ant species that are beginner-friendly and thrive in the UK's climate. You can build your own ant farm or buy one but please, make sure you get a proper one. Read more about the difference between a junky ant farm and a decent one.


What's in this article:


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1. Lasius Niger - Black Garden Ants

  • Appearance and Behavior

  • Nesting Habits

  • Feeding Habits

  • Care Tips for Lasius Niger


buy Live ants Queen Ants Ant Colonies Ant Farms Ant Habitats Ant Food Ant Essentials Ant Equipment and more at Best Ants UK com

2. Lasius Flavus - Yellow Meadow Ants

  • Appearance and Behavior

  • Nesting Habits

  • Feeding Habits

  • Care Tips for Lasius Flavus


buy Live ants Queen Ants Ant Colonies Ant Farms Ant Habitats Ant Food Ant Essentials Ant Equipment and more at Best Ants UK com

3. Myrmica Rubra - Red Fire Ants

  • Appearance and Behavior

  • Nesting Habits

  • Feeding Habits

  • Care Tips for Myrmica Rubra


buy Live ants Queen Ants Ant Colonies Ant Farms Ant Habitats Ant Food Ant Essentials Ant Equipment and more at Best Ants UK com

4. Messor Barbarus - Common Black Harvester Ants

  • Appearance and Behavior

  • Nesting Habits

  • Feeding Habits

  • Care Tips for Messor Barbarus


1. Lasius Niger - Black Garden Ants

Appearance and Behavior

Lasius Niger, commonly known as Black Garden Ants or just Black Ants, is one of the most common ant species found in the UK. These ants are small in size, ranging from 3 to 5mm in length. The first workers are called nanitics and are smaller in size. The workers are black-brownish, while the queen is larger, reaching up to 9mm in length. Black Garden Ants are not aggressive and do not possess a sting, making them safe for kids and beginners.

Development:

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).

Nesting Habits

Black Garden Ants build nests in various locations, including lawns, gardens, and under pavements. Their colonies can grow to a size of up to 7,000 workers, with the average being around 3,000 to 5,000. In captivity, the colony might grow up to 1000 workers in three years. The queen can live for up to 28 years, while the workers have a lifespan of about 1 year and 2 years maximum (the bigger the worker the longer).

Feeding Habits

Black Garden Ants are omnivorous and feed on a variety of food sources. Basically, these little creatures eat everything we do, apart from cucumbers. In nature, they primarily consume insects, nectar, and honeydew. These ants are also attracted to sugary substances and may scavenge for food in kitchens and garbage bins. Providing a balanced diet of insects (boiled and chopped in half mealworms, locusts or crickets), fruits (banana slice or grape), and organic honey is essential for their well-being. An amazing substitution is the Best Ants UK protein jelly. This product's ingredients have been selected carefully to fulfil all the nutrients needed for a healthy colony and proper brood development. nutrition ingredients. Do not forget to discard any remaining food after 2 days or fungus may appear. How to feed your ants honey or jelly? Watch the video.

Care Tips for Lasius Niger

To keep Black Garden Ants successful, it is important to recreate their natural habitat in captivity. Here are some care tips for Lasius Niger:

  • Provide a suitable ant farm or formicarium with enough space for the colony to grow.

  • Make sure the nesting area bed contains a natural substrate (sand or plaster) where the ants can look after their brood.

  • Offer a varied diet of insects, fruits, and sugar water to meet their nutritional needs.

  • Maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels within the ant habitat.

  • Regularly clean the ant farm and remove any waste or dead ants to ensure a healthy environment.

  • For the complete care guide please read this Lasius Niger care article.

2. Lasius Flavus - Yellow Meadow Ants

Appearance and Behavior

Lasius Flavus, also known as Yellow Meadow Ants, are another common ant species found in the UK. These ants are small and yellowish, resembling red ants. They are not aggressive and do not possess a sting, making them safe for beginners.


Development

The eggs hatch in about 22 to 30 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 -14 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).


Nesting Habits

Yellow Meadow Ants build small mounds in lawns and meadows. They prefer nesting in grassy areas and create nests that are covered with grass for protection. These ants are primarily underground creatures and are not often seen unless their nests are disturbed.


Feeding Habits

In nature, they primarily consume insects, nectar, and honeydew. These ants are also attracted to sugary substances and may scavenge for food in kitchens and garbage bins. Providing a balanced diet of insects (boiled and chopped in half mealworms, locusts or crickets), fruits (banana slice or grape), and organic honey is essential for their well-being. An amazing substitution is the Best Ants UK protein jelly. This product's ingredients have been selected carefully to fulfil all the nutrients needed for a healthy colony and proper brood development. nutrition ingredients. Do not forget to discard any remaining food after 2 days or fungus may appear. How to feed your ants honey or jelly? Watch the video.


Care Tips for Lasius Flavus

To care for Yellow Meadow Ants, consider the following tips:

3. Myrmica Rubra - Red Fire Ants

Appearance and Behavior

Myrmica Rubra, also known as Red Fire Ants or just Red Ants, is a lively and fascinating ant species in the UK. These ants are small in size, ranging from 2 to 6mm in length. The queen ant is 5 to 7.5mm. They have a distinctive red colour that sets them apart from other species. Red Fire Ants are known for their aggressive behaviour and can deliver a mildly irritant sting. It feels like a stinging nettle. These ants are NOT suitable for children.


Nesting Habits

Red Fire Ants build nests in various locations, including woodlands and gardens. They create large mounds using pine needles and other woodland litter. The colonies can contain over 10,000 members and have multiple egg-laying queens also known as Polygyne ants.


Feeding Habits

Red Fire Ants are carnivorous and feed on a range of insects and insect larvae. They are also known to scavenge for food and collect honeydew from aphids. Providing a diet of insects, honeydew, and occasional fruits will keep these ants healthy and active. An amazing substitution is the Best Ants UK protein jelly. This product's ingredients have been selected carefully to fulfil all the nutrients needed for a healthy colony and proper brood development. nutrition ingredients. Do not forget to discard any remaining food after 2 days or fungus may appear. How to feed your ants honey or jelly? Watch the video.


Care Tips for Myrmica Rubra

When keeping Red Fire Ants, consider the following care tips:

4. Messor Barbarus - Common Black Harvester Ants

Appearance and Behavior

Messor Barbarus, also known as Common Black Harvester Ants, are an interesting and relatively easy-to-keep ant species. The workers are very polymorphic and are of three main sizes. From just 3mm to up to 15mm.

1. Small (minor: 3-7mm) workers - they usually care for the brood and Queen ant's needs.

2. Normal-sized (media: 6-10mm) ones - care for the ants' bread-making and nest cleaning.

3. Majors (minor: 10-15mm)- protecting the colony's nest and the queen. Sometimes cooperate with the media workers regarding seeds' chewing. They have a shiny black appearance and are known for their strong jaws, which they use to harvest and store seeds.


Nesting Habits

Common Black Harvester Ants create nests in dry and sandy areas, such as meadows and heathlands. They build large and intricate nests with multiple chambers for storing seeds. The colonies can reach a size of several thousand ants.


Feeding Habits

As their name suggests, Common Black Harvester Ants specialize in harvesting and storing seeds. They collect seeds from plants and store them in their nests for future consumption. Providing a variety of seeds and occasional protein-rich foods will keep these ants healthy. Feed them into the outworld only! Harvester ant's main food is seed mix. How to feed them and how much?

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).


Care Tips for Messor Barbarus

  • Provide a formicarium with a suitable nesting area, foraging space, and seed storage chambers.

  • Maintain a dry and sandy environment within the ant habitat to mimic their natural habitat.

  • Offer a variety of seeds, such as millet and sunflower seeds, as their primary food source.

  • Provide occasional protein-rich foods, such as insects or small pieces of boiled chicken or beef meat, for a balanced diet.

  • For the complete care guide please read this article.

Curious Fact:

These ants forage for food up to 200 meters, usually in trails.


Conclusion

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Ant-keeping can be a rewarding and educational experience, especially when you choose the right species suitable for beginners. In the UK, several ant species thrive and can make great companions. The best ant species to keep in the UK for beginners include Lasius Niger, Lasius Flavus, Myrmica Rubra, and Messor Barbarus. These species offer unique characteristics, fascinating behaviours, and relatively easy care requirements.

Remember to provide a suitable habitat, a balanced diet, and the appropriate temperature and humidity levels for your chosen ant species. With proper care and attention, you can create a thriving ant colony and gain a deeper understanding of these remarkable insects. So, embark on your ant-keeping journey and enjoy the fascinating world of ants right in your own home.


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. We are qualified entomologists and ant-keeping experts with more than 20 years of experience so contact us for specific guidance on ant care and keeping in the UK.



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