I think it's about time we have a common repository of termite keeping setups. If you have any interesting designs or setups for keeping your termites, or even just ideas, please post below.
Make a standard test tube setup like you might for a queen, but only fill the tube maybe half full of water. Fill the chamber with cardboard or whatever material suits you best, make sure that the material touches the wet cotton. Put a plug on the open end of your tube - in my experience, an airtight plug seems to be okay for up to a week, perhaps longer.
Pros: If you keep ants, and you have tubes, you can easily make this setup. It's also really easy to view the termites - they seem to dig into the cardboard a bit, but can also chill near the glass.
Cons: Termites may start tunneling through the wet cotton - mine have been working at it for about 3 weeks and made only a little bit of progress, but it could become a problem if they tunnel all the way through into the reservoir.
Alternative Test Tube (Untested)
Stick a wooden dowel down one side of a test tube, wet cotton entirely, squeeze out, and shove into the tube. Continue until the tube is full. Remove the dowel. You should have a test tube full of compact, slightly moist cotton, and a tunnel down the side of the tube that termites can live in.
Pros: Normal test tube pros, and avoids the reservoir problem of a normal test tube setup.
Cons: Hasn't really been tested out. Seem to work fine for now, but it could fail anytime. May occasionally need to be watered as well.
Take a jam jar, and put some moist cellulose into it (cardboard, newspaper, wood, whatever). If you're keeping subterranean termites, you're going to want to put a thin layer of soil on the bottom of the jar. Make sure that no wood or cardboard are touching the lid, so that the termites can't climb out. You can put a sealed lid on, you'll probably want to air out the jar once in a while though. Important: If you do have wood inside, ventilate the lid with a pin, to make air holes. Wood can rot, create methane, and kill your termites.
Pros: A more naturalistic setup than the test tube, more space as well. By having no reservoir, there's no risk of the termites killing themselves. Also, it's pretty easy to make, even easier than the test tube setup, as jars are probably more common than test tubes.
Cons: More work than the test tube setup (still SUPER low maintenance), you have to air it out and ensure that it's not too moist. As well, you control how moist it is, if you overdo it, the termites may die. As well, some glass jars may be difficult to observe through, and termites may tunnel in the soil or hide under the wood.
If anyone has any suggestions for improving this setup, please tell me - I'm in need of a solution to the cotton problem.
Edited by Nare, August 25 2018 - 6:04 PM.