Hello! I just joined this forum like half a second ago haha, and it seems like an awesome place to get knowledge and help for ant raising. I am a super noob to ant keeping (only a few small ant "farms" as a 6 year old haha, they died shortly due to me thinking they could survive without a queen ). I was wondering if you guys could give me some help on how to raise a healthy colony. I live in Gilbert Arizona, so i mostly see your traditional black ant, and some fire ants here and there (ouch!). So, here is the stuff I need help with:
- Nest building: Ive seen a few youtube vids where people got a largish plastic container, put a cylindrical object in the center, glued it down, and filled the area of the jar with sand/dirt to make it so the ants had no choice but to make tunnels where you could see them. This seems like a pretty good home, do you guys have a better idea? Oh, and should I let the ants build it themselves? Or carve it out of something.
- Queen capturing: Ive read a couple of posts here and there about capturing queens, and the "White light" method seems to work for most people. Are there other methods that are more effective? Should i just find an ant hill and dig it up and try to find the queen? (I would prefer not to though, as it would probably kill most of the ants inside, which makes me sad ) Or should I just buy from a store?
- Queen care: Most ant raisers seem to use a test tube stuffed with cotton with water soaked into it for the queen to eat, and then either wait for her to lay eggs and once 20 or so are hatched, move them to a real home. What is the purpose in this? Why a test tube? Are there any special care conditions that I would have to meet? Could I just put her straight into the nest, or would that be bad (I take it that would be bad)?
- Food: This seems like a pretty simple question, what do I feed them? Juice? Honey? Water in a bottle cap? Dead bugs/fruit?
Whew, that was quite a list, I probably overlooked a bunch of stuff, just tell me what I missed/need to do and hopefully I can get started! Any help at all would totally be appreciated. Thank you!
Edit: Here's something I overlooked, since I live in AZ, would my ants need to hibernate or anything during the winter? How would I achieve this?
One more edit: Apparently we have leafcutter ants in arizona YAY!