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So there was a trail of ants in the living room and I followed it to my speaker which was sitting on the floor. So I moved the speaker and underneath was an ANT CONNOLLY. I think it was quite young, because I mean, its our living room so they couldn't have set up camp for that long. Its a small speaker. It was only about a 20cm square patch of floor, but had the white larva and everything. The trail was connecting this with a second little encampment, about the same size, also with babies, on top of my (very large) hermit crab enclosure. A nice warm spot. So I actually found the queen and caught her. I've put her and a bunch of baby-carrying ants into an ant farm I had as a kid but never got going. The queen has tucked herself away in a corner and the other ants are busy digging her a nest.
now what? should I catch more of the ants? How many is enough to keep the queen happy?
What do I need to do to keep them alive?
They are brownish ants and very small
I hope it's not too late for a reply.
If you didn't collect more ants so far, I wouldn't try it anymore. Most likely the colony smell is gone by now and it can be quite hard to get "strangers" accepted into a colony. If there are still pupae around, you could give those to the colony - they don't have a smell and are easily accepted. The queen normally doesn't need many workers, some deal fine even completely without but that depends on the species. As long as you have a few, it should be fine.
Most ants need some sugar (honey in water) and proteins to survive. Pure water isn't bad as well. The honey should be without pesticides/insecticides, best is organic honey. They can get proteins from small insects such as flies, which you can catch outside. I would always pour boiling water over them, so you don't introduce any parasites into your colony. Especially if you want to feed them spiders, make sure they are quite dead, otherwise it's more likely that it would feed on your ants. If you see that they struggle to open the insects or ignore them more or less, try to cut them open. Even a small colony should be able to deal with soft insects such as fruit flies but might have trouble to cut through tougher ones.
But don't worry too much if they just aren't interested in proteins. They need them mostly for their larvae and only at specific stages.
The soil should always have some moist parts. If you water one side - just a bit, don't soak it - the ants have a gradient of moisture and can decide where they want to be. For most species, larvae and pupae need different conditions and they know best which ones.
Sorry, I can't make any statements to the species but maybe a picture here or best in a forum specialised in insects/ants would be a big help. Only with a rough idea which kind of ants you got is it possible to make more specific claims on the conditions they need to thrive.
Thanks for the reply!
I'm actually in the middle of exams right now and couldn't really focus on the ants. I found out the hard way that the little plastic ant farm doesn't actually keep them in; they squeeze through the tiniest gaps, so I have it standing in a tray with a thin layer of water.
I originally had them in just dry sand, but I moved them to a fresh set up with a soil-sand mixture that was slightly damp. They've made a little burrow in that with the queen and the larvae in it. Before I read your advice about food, I put in a tiny piece of egg, a tiny piece of bread-soaked-in-sugar-water, and a tiny piece of apple, to give them a selection. I will try the honey.
I -think- they might be Argentine ants, just from the look and size. Also, Wikipedia says this: "These ants will set up quarters ... even among belongings in human dwellings" so that fits!
Right now I think I just need to leave them in peace and study! I hope they do well, though now I feel I won't be too upset if they don't survive, as they are an introduced species here in Australia. But I do hope they grow into a proper colony; that would be pretty cool.
I've put her and a bunch of baby-carrying ants into an ant farm I had as a kid but never got going. The queen has tucked herself away in a corner and the other ants are busy digging her a nest.
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