Ant Keeping Evolved for both Adults & Kids
Taking the traditional "ant farm" to a whole new level is our goal at AntWorldUSA. Whether you are a seasoned ant keeper or looking for your first starter kit, we've got something for you.
If you are new to this type of ant keeping then we STRONGLY suggest you check out the "Beginner's Guide" and FAQ sections.
Every unit is designed with the ability to control the humidity levels within the nest and most of our units have special features like expandable "on the fly" nest areas for growing colonies, This removes a big problem with a lot of nests on the market today. Starting a small colony in a larger nest allows them to use some of it for trash. This leads to bacteria and mold growth. Our units offer small starter areas that you can simply remove tabs from to open larger sections, giving them room as they need it.
Beginners Guide to Ant Keeping
A Work in Progress!
Welcome to the fascinating world of Ant Keeping! This section is to help provide some basic information on how to get started and what you will need for housing, food and general care needed to have your colony thrive.
Before you Begin
Ant keeping requires patience and some care to ensure a successful colony. They can be very delicate, especially in the early stages, when compared to simple ant farms from years ago that contained just worker ants that often died in a few weeks or months. If the thought of having a single ant turn into hundreds over the course of a couple years than this is definitely for you!
What you will need
A small area on a shelf or desk is all the space you will need for the first year or more. The space should be free of drafts and large temperature swings. If you keep your house pretty cold then a heat source should be made available. Some designs allow for a cable heater while others can make use of a heat pad or even the heat from a simple light bulb can work. Temperature is very important so it is a good idea to invest in a thermometer and know the temperature required by the species you will be keeping.
Before purchasing your formicarium you will need to decide what species you will be keeping. I recommend catching your queen ant from around your home or neighborhood first and then once you have a starting colony of a few worker ants look into purchasing the appropriate home for them. Alternatively you could purchase a queen ant and starter colony from within your state. (more info on this option on the FAQ page)
We have several starter kits available in different sizes, styles and price options. The two main types we offer are the All in One and the Classic. The all in one contains a nesting area with their "outer world" area typically on top and within the same container while the classic models have a nest area that is completely separate from the outer world and is connected via clear tubing. All units offer expansion beyond their original containers.
Catching a Queen
Queen ants are available during the spring and summer months. The specific times they are released from their current nests (nuptial flights) to start a new colony varies based on the species and your location. For more information on the capturing of a queen we recommend the following video:
I have a queen ant! What's next?
Once you capture your queen ant and have her secured in a test tube you will want to store her in a dark place and not disturb her for a couple weeks. As hard as it is not to take a peek it is much better to leave her alone during this time while she starts the egg laying process. We recommend watching the following video: Housing your newly caught queen ant
My Queen has started laying eggs!
Now that some eggs have been laid there will some be some hatching. From here I would recommend the following video: How to Raise An Ant Colony
What do I feed my ants?
The food required for your ants varies a lot from one to another. There is an excellent database over at a forum on formiculture.com that outlines several ant species and their most liked types of food. Ant Food Database
Setting up your Formicarium
In this section I will guide you through how to setup your formicarium to make it ready for ants.
Aside from what came in your kit you will need the following:
These instructions will work with all sizes of our All In One Kits as well as our Full Kits.
Take a moment to go over all the instructions first. If you have any questions about the procedure please ask before you start.
Unless it is in the wee hours of the morning I am usually pretty quick to respond.
NOTE: For the XX large units that come with more than one bag of grout. Just mix up one bag and create your foundation and nest top edging with it. Then use the second bag as your landscaping to create your small hills, mounds or whatever ya like. You do not need to wait for the first layer/bag to dry first.
Mixing & Decorating
1. Mix the grout with just a tiny bit of water at a time to bring to a toothpaste or peanut butter like consistency. It is very easy to add too much so go slowly and mix well after each small bit of water added. A little water goes a long way.
IMPORTANT: Adding too much water will ruin the grout so PLEASE add a little water at a time and mix well before adding more.
Place a Q-tip or wadded paper towel in the main entrance hole like below, and for the units with an expansion pin(s) remove it to expose the slot shaped hole. You can either plug the expansion hole with a small piece of paper towel or just avoid spreading grout over it when designing.
2. Start adding your grout and spreading it all around. If you get any grout on the acrylic it will easily wipe off later with a soft cloth. Remember to keep the slotted hole expansion slot clear of grout as well. Spread the grout right up to all sides of the acrylic so all the plastic is covered like the picture below
3. Add all the grout and shape to whatever you like to create your "terrain". After designing the landscape. In the picture below I removed the q-tip but best to leave it in until the designing is complete.
4. Next you will push the plastic plants and rocks into the wet grout until you are happy with the look. Sprinkle the pebbles and sand around. Now you can remove the Q-tip and ensure the grout around the hole area is smooth for the ants to enter and exit easily.
5. Once you are satisfied with your design, clean up any areas of the acrylic you got grout on with a soft cloth as paper towel will easily scratch it.
Then place something under the front of the unit so it is tilted up about an inch or so with the front nesting areas higher than the back of the unit. This is to let the moisture and water run off stay away from the front of your nesting areas as it dries. Let the unit sit and dry like this for 24 hours.
Once dried that's it!
You are now ready for your ants!
Q. Do these come with, or do you sell ants?
A. No we do not include or sell ants. It is illegal in the USA to transport or ship a queen ant across state lines. Since our units are designed for a colony with a queen we are unable to offer this service. (more info on how to get one below)
Q. Are these Ant Farms like at the pet or Hobby Store?
A. While these are sometimes called ant farms there is a large difference. Most Ant Farms offer a “mail option” for ants to purchase. These are usually Harvester Worker Ants that will die off fairly quickly and lack the “colony” aspect due to not having a Queen. While our units can also house these ants they are more designed for a colony that is started from a single Queen Ant. Also our nesting areas are completely preformed and ready for the ants to make their home.
Q. Where can I order a Queen Ant?
A.It is illegal to ship a Queen Ant across State lines in the USA. There are three options to acquire one. You can catch one around your yard or community during the right time of year based on the type of ant, or you can locate an ant farmer within your state and purchase a ready to go colony. There is a forum over at www.formiculture.com that is filled with great information as well as a marketplace of people selling ant queens/colonies all over the USA. Alternatively, there is the GAN Project (Global Ant Nursery) that lists farmers all over the world who have queen ants with colonies available for sale. They have a directory listed by country and state/province. I will include some links at the bottom of the page for more help on both of these options.
Q. How do I go about catching a queen ant?
A. All through the spring and summer months multiple queen ants are released from existing ant mounds/colonies. Start off by researching what type of ants and when these "nuptial" flights will take place in your region as it really does vary a lot from species and region. I HIGHLY suggest watching these 2 videos in order for further information:
These are excellent guides on how to catch and setup the initial home for the queen.
Q. Once I receive my Order how will I know how to set it up?
A. There is a pictured step by step guide right here on the site under the Help tab called "setup".
Q. How long will it take to ship out once I place an order?
A. Typically we require up to 4 business days before shipping. All our units are manufactured then assembled by hand to ensure everything fits correctly.
Q. HELP! How do the ants get from one nest into the other? (expandable designs)
A. There is a small "pin" located in the front corner on top of the nests where they connect. Once you pull that pin out it exposes three holes to allow access to the 2nd side. It is designed this way so you can start off with a small colony in a smaller space which is more suitable. Once the colony grows and requires more room you pull the pin out. Some people will place a small pebble or twig over the top hole where the pin was removed to make it look better.
Q. HELP! How do I keep the ants from escaping through the top lid on my habitat when I open it??!?
A. As stated in the instructions you need to make a "barrier around the top of the enclosure under the lid. All the way around 1 inch or more from the top. Here is a copy/paste from the instructions on how to do that:
It is a good idea that you create an escape proof top by smearing one of the following along the top 1/2 - 1 1/2” below the lid depending on the size of the ants. Here are a few methods that can be used with household products. Remember to re-apply as needed.
Fluon - We offer this via our ETSY store and is the most recommended form of insect barrier. It creates a super slippery barrier that the ants are unable to cross. Used by professionals to keep insects in any enclosure.
Petroleum Jelly This works on several species, I had better success mixed with mineral oil and applied by fingers.
Talcum Powder & Rubbing Alcohol wash that is best brushed on.
Q. HELP! How does the humidity section work?
A. For the all in one designs we are now using a sliding tube/drawer design where cotton is moistened and placed in the tube and there is a hollowed out area that allows for much more water to be stored to keep the cotton wet a lot longer. Once the tube is in place it will slowly dry out by releasing the moisture in the air behind the nests. This flows through the mesh and screen to add humidity to the nest sections.
The expanding class style 2 piece designs have a drawer on the underside where the cotton is moistened and placed.
Check the cotton periodically and re-moisten as necessary
Q. HELP! How do I operate the new water section?
A. Our latest update has made for a more ant and human friendly design. The included test tube fitted onto an adapter can be filled with water and placed back into the adapter. This adapter slides into the hole located on the side of the formicarium. Provided cotton is then moistened and placed on the inside tray to catch the water from the test tube and keeping it nice and moist. In the case of an air bubble getting trapped in the tube you can slide the tube up and down to allow a small squirt of water to escape on the cotton. We also include a hole plug for when you want to remove the test tube and have it cleaned and refilled.
Q. HELP! What is the included test tube and adapter for?
A. The test tube can be used for initially capturing and housing a queen ant. Just remove the included adapter and fill the test tube about 1/2 - 2/3 full of distilled or bottled water, plug some cotton into the tube until it blocks the water and wets the cotton completely. The queen is then placed next. Cap the tube off with some cotton, enough to keep her contained but not too tight to block air flow. This process is explained in the videos we link on this page for catching and raising a queen ant.
Once the queen has hatched out some workers and they are ready to move into the container you can remove the cotton cap and attach the tube to the watering hole. Patience is required as the ants will move when they feel the time is right. I have known them to take as much as a month to do so. You can try shining a bright light at the test tube while shading the new area to entice the move but make sure the light you are using does not cast off too much heat.
Q. How long before my order ships?
A. We require up to 4 business days before shipping at which time you will be sent a tracking number
Q. I opened the package and there is damage to the contents. What do I do?
A. Contact us immediately. Do not throw anything away.
Q. I received my package and there is damage to the outside box. What should I do?
A. Contact us immediately. If you have not opened it yet, take some pictures of the damage then open and see if everything is okay. If there is any damage or missing contents let us know what they are.
Q. Do you ship Internationally?
A. There are currently no plans to ship to any other countries due to the high cost associated with the size and weight of these units. We dabbled in this a little bit and with shipping cost sometimes doubling the cost of the purchase it didn’t seem to make sense for now.
Q. What shipping methods do you offer?
A. Typically all smaller/lighter packages ship USPS Priority 1-3 day mail, Heavier and larger packages will either ship USPS Parcel Select or UPS Ground depending on their weight and destination.
Formiculture Ant Forum – A GREAT forum full of information on how and where to collect your queen ants, full beginner section for asking questions and even a marketplace to help locate people in your area that are selling queens.
GAN Project– The Global Ant Nursery (GAN) where you can check and see if any Ant Farmers are selling colonies with Queens in your state/province, country etc.