Scientific name: Camponotus sp.
Carpenter Ants are are present throughout North America. They are mostly found in rotting or deteriorating wood, wood piles, and sometimes will inhabit the wood structure of buildings which can cause thousands of dollars in damage (similar to termites).
Appearance / health:
Carpenter Ants are the one of the largest species of ants in North America. They can range from 1/8 - 1 inch. Queens are the largest of the ants. Adults are usually a shiny jet black color, but some species of Carpenter Ants have been known to be a reddish color. Larvae of these ants are small, white, and look like maggots.
Behavior / temperament:
Ants are not handle-able pets. They are only for visual interaction. Some ants will bite and sting, so do not try to handle them. Although ants are highly social, do not ever introduce ants from a different colony into the existing colony, they will kill each other. The hardest part about establishing a thriving colony is actually finding the queen. They may need to be special ordered depending on your location, or you may find one outside during their annual mating flight. One of the best things about ants is that you can have your own civilization of hundreds of ants right in your own bedroom. They are fun to watch, they work together, and they even will play together.
If there is only a small colony of ants, a 10 gallon tank filled with dirt and rotting wood will work best. Once the colony of ants starts to grow, you may need to add on to the existing 10 gallon by connecting another tank. Drill a pipe size hole in the existing 10 gallon tank and then drill the same hole in the same spot in the new tank to be added. This way you can connect the two 10 gallon tanks by a pipe allowing the ants to travel from one tank to another. This may need to be done several times. Always have a secure lid to prevent escapes and other inverts like spiders from entering. Put a piece of paper all around the outside of the tank, and remove it later on. Doing this should make the ants dig tunnels right near the glass so you can see them.
Temperatures should be anything from 70-85F. Humidity is important to ants because the soil structure depends on it. The substrate that they are burrowing and tunneling in should be strong enough to support the tunnels. Keep the substrate damp but not overly wet. Too wet will cause them to collapse, and too dry will cause them to collapse. As colonies mature and begin to grow, winged queens and males will leave the nest in their “mating flight” so keep an eye out for these. Catch them and release them outside.
Ant diets vary greatly between different species. It will take a little trial and error to see what your colony will readily take. Try offering a dab of honey on a piece of paper towel, seeds, dead insects such as flies, moths, caterpillars, etc. They also love sugary foods like candy. Size of the food item should be pretty small, but even larger items will be carried as the ants work together.
Only one fertile queen is used to establish an entire colony. When more queens and males are produced, they leave the nest in their annual “mating flights“ to go and start their own colonies.
entertaining, tunneldigging mastery, busy little things, special underground chambers, ant farms
plastic green enclosure, traditional Uncle Milton, .Great Therapy
When my youngest daughter Anna was in the first grade she brought home a surprise.
"Mommy, Mommy, look the teacher gave everyone in my class an ant farm!"
My little blonde haired, blue eyed girl held up the enclosure proudly as the ants milled around inside behind the glass and as she displayed her new found possession, I became nervous.
Now mind you, I am not one of those women who squeals and screams every time an insect lands on her but I wasn't very confident about that ant farm being in my house. As a matter of fact, I had a high anticipation that my curious little girl would some how set her little pets free inside of my home and I felt I needed to understand these little creatures more and what to do if they left the farm for the big city which was my house.
I have always been a researcher of things and felt these ants needed to be studied. I needed to find out what type of ant they were, how long they would live and what to do if you had an ant farm on the loose in your house so I sat down and found out some info on the little buggers.
They were harvester ants which are primarily foragers and scavengers. During the summer and fall, they gather seeds from a radius around their nest stretching as far as 3.5 meters. These seeds are then stored in special underground chambers called "granaries," which supply the colony with a steady food stream through the winter. In addition, harvester ants will scavenge the corpses of dead insects, though they rarely hunt their own prey. Like all ants, harvesters go through a 4 stage life-cycle. They begin as small, fleshy eggs that are approximately 0.5 mm in length. Eventually these eggs hatch, and the ants emerge as larvae. With long goose-necked bodies and no legs, larvae are unidentifiable as ants except for their heads. They spend all their time in the nest to eat and grow and when they've stored enough energy, they weave a cocoon around themselves and enter the pupal phase. Like caterpillars to butterflies, this pupal phase is their final transformation and when they emerge from their cocoon, they are full grown ants.
As I was researching, I found out a fact which made me sad. They do not have a queen in ants farms because of the fear of overpopulation and to lower the sting from soldier ants. Because of not having a queen the ants only live a few short months. My research told me if the ants got free soap and water would work to get rid of them but I didn't want to hurt the little guys, I just didn't want them milling all over my house so I prayed my daughter Anna would look at them instead of letting them go.
A couple of weeks later Anna came up to me in the kitchen with a sad expression across her face.
"What's wrong, Sweetheart?"
Anna looked up at me with her beautiful blue-green eyes before answering, "Mommy, I felt so bad for the ants so I let them go."
My ant nightmare was coming true. She had let them go and they were milling through my house and would be crawling all over everything. As I panicked inside of myself, I managed to keep a straight face as I asked her to repeat what she had just said, "Sweetie, what did you just say?"
"I let the ants go Mommy. I felt so bad for them being cooped up so I set them free."
"That's what I thought you just said. Oh no, what can I do?"
I began thinking about the soap and water with the dread riding in my chest of hurting the ants. I do not like to harm animals of any genre so the thought of spraying these little creatures made me feel horrible.
"Mommy, what's the matter?"
"Sweetheart, Mommy's fine, I just have to figure out how to get your ants out of the house."
"No you dont," Anna said, "they won't hurt you."
"I know Anna but I don't want them in my house."
"They are not in the house Mommy, I let them go outside. If I had let them loose in here it would have just been a bigger ant farm and they wouldn't have been free."
Relief rushed over me as I heard she had set them loose outside and that I would not have to take the soap and water mixture after them. I hugged my daughter closely and as I did my feeling of being so ANTsy began to calm down..
From stormsdestiny42 May 29 2013 6:36AM
Great Therapy for Anxiety
I grew up with ant farms, whether ‘store bought’ or created on my own with wild ants, I find them fascinating. Ants are intriguing creatures, and very adaptable. They’ll live off anything, though they do have wildgrown foods are better for them than farm foods (for example, a natural grown strawberry, those tiny ones, are much better than our farm grown monsters). As most people know, they are highly social with one another. If you try and run a one ant farm, he’ll die pretty quickly from lack of contact. I hate saying this, but ants are best viewed as decoration. They are okay for decomposition piles, but worms are better suited for those tasks. I used my ant farms as therapy. I could get lost watching them work for hours and it really help with my high levels of anxiety..
From BhuvanaMcGoats Jun 4 2015 9:25AM
Cool to watch, but not my kind of pet
Both as a child and as an adult, I've done the ant farm thing on five separate occasions. I have used the traditional Uncle Milton variety of ant farm twice and the gel type of ant farm three times. I think the gel kind of ant farm is best because it's both the food and the habitat for the ants, so once you put the ants in there, you never open the lid again. Plus, the burrows and tunnels look cooler in the gel.
On the positive side, it's really cool watching the ants build tunnels and burrows. It's like moving art.
But negatives really outweighed the positives for me. They didn't live for very long, regardless if then ants were mail ordered or collected from the sidewalk. I was told once that the ants don't live for very long without a queen telling them what to do, so maybe that was part of the problem. Also, I just found them to be too creepy for my liking. I've had to deal with and infestations in my house before, and that has completely turned me off the idea of any farms. In my experience, ant farms are better in idea than practice..
From WordTamer Jun 16 2014 2:28PM