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Ant species for a school science lab?


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37 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Mortsy88 - Posted May 23 2019 - 6:05 AM

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I've managed to secure a position as a science technician and I wish to be able to keep an ant colony here.

 

I have always kept ants, mainly native species in the UK (e.g. Lasius niger) but now I think this might be a great way to go for a more 'exotic' ant species.

 

Any ideas of a good species I can use to get students interested in the study of ants?

 

Many thanks,

 

Samuel



#2 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted May 23 2019 - 6:18 AM

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Formica, Myrmica, Solenopsis or Camponotus.

#3 Offline Ferox_Formicae - Posted May 23 2019 - 6:20 AM

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Formica, Myrmica, Solenopsis or Camponotus.

Camponotus would probably be better as they're large and you can see their behaviors more easily.


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#4 Offline rbarreto - Posted May 23 2019 - 6:42 AM

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I suggest importing some sort of large Camponotus.


Edited by rbarreto, May 23 2019 - 6:43 AM.

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#5 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted May 23 2019 - 7:26 AM

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Dinomyrmex gigas would be stunning in a classroom! They are a HUGE carpenter ant.
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#6 Offline Ferox_Formicae - Posted May 23 2019 - 7:30 AM

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Dinomyrmex gigas would be stunning in a classroom! They are a HUGE carpenter ant.

Yeah, but where would you even get them?


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#7 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted May 23 2019 - 8:02 AM

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He can import them.

#8 Offline Acutus - Posted May 23 2019 - 8:27 AM

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I run a Nature Center and I, just this year, decided to keep a couple Ant farms to compare and contrast the behaviors of social insects. (I also keep Honey Bees and am thinking of termites. :D

 

Anyway I chose Camponotus because of their size and the ability for Children to see them. With Camponotus you also eventually get the ability to show off the polymorphic aspects with Queen, Super Major, major, minor.


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Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Aphaenogaster "NOT tennesseensis" fulva

Formica subsericea


#9 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted May 23 2019 - 8:51 AM

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I run a Nature Center and I, just this year, decided to keep a couple Ant farms to compare and contrast the behaviors of social insects. (I also keep Honey Bees and am thinking of termites. :D
 
Anyway I chose Camponotus because of their size and the ability for Children to see them. With Camponotus you also eventually get the ability to show off the polymorphic aspects with Queen, Super Major, major, minor.



Dinomyrmex gigas are polymorphic too. Much more than Camponotus.

#10 Offline VoidElecent - Posted May 23 2019 - 9:01 AM

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Camponotus would be great for a classroom. I know in the U.S. at least Solenopsis invicta is very commonly used for research, given their abundance and growth rate.



#11 Offline ForestDragon - Posted May 23 2019 - 9:57 AM

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Kids would love Carebara Diversa or pheidole, some species with majors that have big heads


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#12 Offline David19 - Posted May 23 2019 - 10:28 AM

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I run a Nature Center and I, just this year, decided to keep a couple Ant farms to compare and contrast the behaviors of social insects. (I also keep Honey Bees and am thinking of termites. :D

 

Anyway I chose Camponotus because of their size and the ability for Children to see them. With Camponotus you also eventually get the ability to show off the polymorphic aspects with Queen, Super Major, major, minor.

I keep termites! They are a lot of fun! You should give it a shot next year!


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#13 Offline BeginnerAntKeeper - Posted May 24 2019 - 9:41 PM

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Dinomyrmex gigas would be stunning in a classroom! They are a HUGE carpenter ant.

Dinomyrmex gigas need a very large space to roam, or so I have heard

#14 Offline AntPhycho - Posted May 24 2019 - 9:56 PM

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Myrmecocystus Mexicanus (Honey Pot Ant). This species is extremely interesting due to their behavior. Workers in this species (repletes) swell with liquids and hang from the ceiling of a chamber. These swelled workers act as live food storage for the rest of the colony. 

 

qPTlGuq.png

 

I have also heard of people feeding M. mexicanus dyed honey which will turn their "food storages" different colors. 

 

4vk2OEh.png

 

Watch this video for some more info about honey pot ants. 

https://www.youtube....h?v=joL0ClvRlRU


Edited by AntPhycho, May 24 2019 - 10:01 PM.

Founding:              

Solenopsis invicta Experimental 5 Queen Colony                   Brachymyrmex sp.

Liometopum occidentale                                                      Pheidole cerebrosior 

Forelius sp. 3 Queen Colony                                                   Solenopsis xyloni 3 Queen Colony 

Forelius sp.                                                                              

Pogonomyrmex californicus x5                                                 

Solenopsis xyloni x infinity                                                        

 

 

 


#15 Offline Leo - Posted May 24 2019 - 11:01 PM

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I run a Nature Center and I, just this year, decided to keep a couple Ant farms to compare and contrast the behaviors of social insects. (I also keep Honey Bees and am thinking of termites. :D
 
Anyway I chose Camponotus because of their size and the ability for Children to see them. With Camponotus you also eventually get the ability to show off the polymorphic aspects with Queen, Super Major, major, minor.



Dinomyrmex gigas are polymorphic too. Much more than Camponotus.

 

Honey DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THEY COST. THEY MAKE MY MYRMECIA LOOK CHEAP IN COMPARISON 


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#16 Offline Serafine - Posted May 25 2019 - 12:31 AM

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He can import them.

The last time one was up for sale in Europe it went for 1500 - ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED - Euros. You can get five large ant setups for that.

 

My recommendation for a classroom ant would be Messor barbarus. Not a queen (they are very sensitive during founding) but a small colony of a few dozen ants.

They are:

- cheap to buy

- cheap in maintenance due to being seed-eaters (they can eat seeds for carbs and boiled egg for protein)

- VERY active (one of the most active ant species once they have a few hundred workers and some substrate to dig)

- can be left alone for extended periods (as long as they have enough seeds and water they can be left alone for even a month)

- grow relatively large but not too large (about 12-15k average adult colony size)

- Can't sting and don't have acid either (large majors can bite though)

- have only a weak hibernation from December to March at around 15°C (if that's an issue there's also Messor species that do not hibernate)

 

 

Most Camponotus grow slow, are very inactive while small colonies and nocturnal on top, bad choice for a classroom.

Small ants like Lasius or Pheidole are escape artists that are hard to contain, not a good choice either.

Solenopsis outright explode into existence with their ridiculous growth rate, are escape artists and have painful stings which can hurt for days and cause nasty inflamations. Great choice if you want to get sued by parents.

Carebara are SUPER sensitive, notoriously hard to raise and absolute hate being shipped. Terrible choice for a classroom.

Most Serviformica species (like Formica fusca) are very sensitive to disturbance but there are a few (like Formica cinerea) that are more confident and aggressive which could work in a classroom (they need constant feeding though, especially during the summer).


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#17 Offline Leo - Posted May 25 2019 - 12:33 AM

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Carebara are SUPER sensitive, notoriously hard to raise and absolute hate being shipped. Terrible choice for a classroom.

 

 

I agree



#18 Offline Barristan - Posted May 25 2019 - 1:25 AM

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My suggestion would be Camponotus vagus:

 

  • They are huge: workers up to 13 mm
  • They have a quite fast development time for a Camponotus species (only 6 weeks from egg to worker @ 25+ °C)
  • They are active, even at lower numbers and also during day
  • They are still quite inexpensive
  • The end colony size is around 1000 - 4000 workers

Start with a colony with at least 25 or 50 workers, because earlier you won't see much activity at all. If you can get a bigger colony it would be even better, since activity will be higher.


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#19 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 25 2019 - 5:21 AM

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Just sayin’ but I teach middle school, and I wouldn’t even dream of subjecting my ants to life in a classroom. I teach in a ghetto school, though.
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#20 Offline Martialis - Posted May 25 2019 - 5:43 AM

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I don’t suggest importing anything—especially non natives able to survive in the UK’s climate.
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