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What ant resource would you have wanted as a beginning ant keeper?

ants guide ecourse

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28 replies to this topic

Poll: What Educational Resource is most needed? (26 member(s) have cast votes)

What would you prefer?

  1. Ant E-Course (In depth explanation on acquiring ants and husbandry) for a similar price as an AntsCanads Ebook (3 votes [11.54%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 11.54%

  2. YouTube videos released over time that slowly explain basics of keeping and acquiring ants (5 votes [19.23%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 19.23%

  3. Blog/Instagram posts about tips and tricks I’ve learned keeping ants (2 votes [7.69%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 7.69%

  4. All of the above at once! (11 votes [42.31%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 42.31%

  5. Something else (5 votes [19.23%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 19.23%

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#1 Offline Ants4fun - Posted May 18 2020 - 8:11 PM

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Starting out ant keeping 8 years ago, there was hardly any information on keeping ants professionally. I had to do many hours of research on various European forums before I settled on antkeeping.yuku which was a quaint little community of retired myrmecologists and several antkeepers. I learned a lot from that forum, and from this forum when it began back in 2013 I think.

However, one of the biggest obstacles in this hobby is that you pretty much have the ultra beginners and the hoarders (like me) with very little in between. I think a cool direction for this hobby to go in is to attract those who want to keep an ant colony as possibly an interesting art piece, as an educational piece, or just because they are cool, but don’t have the time and energy to dive down the rabbit hole so to speak.

So hence the question in the title. As a beginner, what would have been most helpful to you at the start? I know many people, including me, have a terrible time learning by sitting down and reading a guide. I need to be able to see someone for me to make a connection, So far, the main resources for beginner ant keepers are the ant keeping for beginners article on this forum, Antscanada’s guide, a few articles online, and an assortment of videos (my favorite being videos from AmtsAustralia and The Ant Network who create some nice professional videos). I think there is a big niche that could be filled as far as educational content.

So far I am leaning towards an Ant E-Course for a low price that would cover all the basics as far as collection and husbandry of ants. I think it would be helpful for people who learn visually to be able to have all the basics covered. I probably don’t need tips on content, but if you guys have feedback on what you wish existed when you started antkeeping, let me know. Thanks for reading and voting,

Edited by Ants4fun, May 18 2020 - 8:12 PM.

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#2 Offline Skwiggledork - Posted May 18 2020 - 9:26 PM

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I still consider myself a beginner. This is my 3rd or 4th year of keeping ants, but my oldest surviving colony is turning 2 next month, the prior ones died.

I voted for blog/instagram, because I think there is a gray area in online ant keeping information that a blog would be helpful for. Like you said the hobby is pretty much ultra-beginners or hoarders and Youtube reflects that. There is a bunch of videos on the basic basic info, like how to make test tube setups and ID queens versus workers, and there are videos on how to make super vivariums for huge colonies. It's the basic, but not super basic things that I would like to see. Things like how much space an ant colony takes up, or How to tell when you should give them more room, either nest or outworld. 

A blog would also more easily allow other people to make content, so you can have posts for region specific information, like tips for specific species or biomes.

As for the obstacles for this hobby, I think it's just something that you have to dedicate yourself to, to get into it and not a lot of people can or want to put a ton of time into a new hobby before getting anything out of it. My first year and I would assume most people's first year was a struggle. Misidentifying workers as potential queens, parasitic Lasius species that I couldn't get workers to accept, Prenolepis imparis that never laid a second batch of eggs, the one colony I got that had workers going in to hibernation died, ect. Add to that a lot of people that get into ant keeping do so after watching videos like AC's huge colonies, so researching ant keeping I found out many of the species I was watching I can't legally get and those species and the ones local to me take years to grow. That's 100+ hours and not much to show for it. For kids I would think it near impossible to keep their interest through that, and as an adult I have to try and put in hours looking for queens around my work schedule and other responsibilities.  


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#3 Offline AntsDakota - Posted May 19 2020 - 8:11 AM

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Starting out ant keeping 8 years ago, there was hardly any information on keeping ants professionally.

Hopefully in 8 years from now, the hobby would have grown just as much as from 8 years ago to now.


"God made..... all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. (including ants) And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25 NIV versionCurrently Keeping: Aphaenogaster picea, Aphaenogaster rudis, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Formica subsericea, Lasius americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Myrmica sp., Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, Ponera pennsylvanica ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________My Journal__________________________________________________________________________________________<p>Attention South Dakotans! Join us on The SoDAK (Society of Dakotan Ant Keepers)

#4 Offline FeedTheAnts - Posted May 19 2020 - 8:21 AM

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Specifically, I wish I would have found Tar Heel Ants (material resource) sooner. His nests are so great. Early on I was doofed into thinking that AC was the only seller of quality formicaria, and that was back when he was selling those 3d printed Hybrid Nests. I think beginning ant keepers really need to be taught what factors go into having a high quality nest.


Edited by FeedTheAnts, May 19 2020 - 8:21 AM.

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Colonies:                                                                      Founding queens:

Crematogaster ashmeadi -- 2500 workers             Colobopsis sp -- 3 queens  

Camponotus chromaiodes -- 100 workers             Solenopsis (not "fire ant") sp --4 queens

Formica pallidefulva -- 60 workers                     Pheidole sp -- 2 queens

                                                                                    Tetramorium sp -- 1 queen


#5 Offline NickAnter - Posted May 19 2020 - 8:21 AM

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IDK if that would be so excellent.  Higher chances of government intervention.


Colonies:(Nylanderia vividula, Lasius cf. americanus, Pheidole navigans)

 

Founding queens:(Camponotus hyatti/sayi, Temnothorax nevadensis, Pheidole navigans, Solenopsis sp. 1, Solenopsis sp.2Pogonomyrmex californicus, Tetramorium bicarinatum

 

Ants I would like to acquire soon: Acanthomyops, Lasius brevicornis, Stigmatomma pallipes or oregonense, Camponotus vicinus, Camponotus fragilis, Myrmecocystus navajo, Myrmecocystus semirufus/mimicus, Formica perpilosa, Formica aserva, Formica argentea, Liometopum luctuosum, Manica bradleyi or invidia, Temnothorax nevadensis, and a Myrmica sp

 

Lets pretend that my profile picture is not sideways.

 

  Now, more than ever, we must remember that being a sheep, and not making a stand, only leads us to our doom. We must not just follow those who force their views upon others, by threatening to hurt. Stand up to them, and do not cower or grovel before them.


#6 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 19 2020 - 8:56 AM

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I would like to see a good old fashioned book. All the internet resources are maddeningly shallow in my opinion.
All my other hobbies like birding, native plants, and fermentation have whole libraries dedicated to them. Ant keeping? Nothing.
At the same time, I tend to agree with NickAnter. How much do we need to grow this hobby? It could lead to more problems.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25


#7 Offline Ants4fun - Posted May 19 2020 - 9:02 AM

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IDK if that would be so excellent.  Higher chances of government intervention.

I would like to see a good old fashioned book. All the internet resources are maddeningly shallow in my opinion.
All my other hobbies like birding, native plants, and fermentation have whole libraries dedicated to them. Ant keeping? Nothing.
At the same time, I tend to agree with NickAnter. How much do we need to grow this hobby? It could lead to more problems.


I think that laws have became more lax with more ant keepers, just looking at our recent changes allowing Pogononyrmex occidentalis to be traded across the US. And one only has to look as far as Europe to see the improvements with more ant keepers. It leads to more of a market, introducing more professional, inventive, and competitively priced ankeeping equipment and formicaria.
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#8 Offline AntsDakota - Posted May 19 2020 - 9:10 AM

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IDK if that would be so excellent.  Higher chances of government intervention.

I would like to see a good old fashioned book. All the internet resources are maddeningly shallow in my opinion.
All my other hobbies like birding, native plants, and fermentation have whole libraries dedicated to them. Ant keeping? Nothing.
At the same time, I tend to agree with NickAnter. How much do we need to grow this hobby? It could lead to more problems.


I think that laws have became more lax with more ant keepers, just looking at our recent changes allowing Pogononyrmex occidentalis to be traded across the US. And one only has to look as far as Europe to see the improvements with more ant keepers. It leads to more of a market, introducing more professional, inventive, and competitively priced ankeeping equipment and formicaria.

Exactly. The more ant keepers there are, the more the government will listen to us.


"God made..... all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. (including ants) And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25 NIV versionCurrently Keeping: Aphaenogaster picea, Aphaenogaster rudis, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Formica subsericea, Lasius americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Myrmica sp., Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, Ponera pennsylvanica ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________My Journal__________________________________________________________________________________________<p>Attention South Dakotans! Join us on The SoDAK (Society of Dakotan Ant Keepers)

#9 Offline Mdrogun - Posted May 19 2020 - 1:24 PM

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I think part of the problem is that ants are so diverse, it's almost impossible for any one collection of information to cover everything. "All I need to do is take my queen and put her in a test tube, wait a couple months and I have workers? Got it" Wellll, some ants don't have queens, some have queens without wing scars, some are semi-claustural, the list goes on and on. And that's JUST on rearing queens. A book that would cover everything would have to be 200+ pages long and at that point any casual beginner would have lost interest.


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Currently Keeping:
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

Pheidole pilifera

Forelius sp. (Monogynous, bicolored) "Midwestern Forelius"
Crematogaster cerasi

Pheidole bicarinata

Aphaenogaster rudis

Camponotus chromaiodes

Formica sp. (microgena species)

Nylanderia cf. arenivega


#10 Offline ANTdrew - Posted May 19 2020 - 1:29 PM

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Every decent book I own is over 200 pages. I guess it’s a generational thing.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25


#11 Offline NickAnter - Posted May 19 2020 - 5:18 PM

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My favorite books are well over 200 pages too. Its not necessarily all of my generation.


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Colonies:(Nylanderia vividula, Lasius cf. americanus, Pheidole navigans)

 

Founding queens:(Camponotus hyatti/sayi, Temnothorax nevadensis, Pheidole navigans, Solenopsis sp. 1, Solenopsis sp.2Pogonomyrmex californicus, Tetramorium bicarinatum

 

Ants I would like to acquire soon: Acanthomyops, Lasius brevicornis, Stigmatomma pallipes or oregonense, Camponotus vicinus, Camponotus fragilis, Myrmecocystus navajo, Myrmecocystus semirufus/mimicus, Formica perpilosa, Formica aserva, Formica argentea, Liometopum luctuosum, Manica bradleyi or invidia, Temnothorax nevadensis, and a Myrmica sp

 

Lets pretend that my profile picture is not sideways.

 

  Now, more than ever, we must remember that being a sheep, and not making a stand, only leads us to our doom. We must not just follow those who force their views upon others, by threatening to hurt. Stand up to them, and do not cower or grovel before them.


#12 Offline Ants4fun - Posted May 19 2020 - 5:37 PM

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I think part of the problem is that ants are so diverse, it's almost impossible for any one collection of information to cover everything. "All I need to do is take my queen and put her in a test tube, wait a couple months and I have workers? Got it" Wellll, some ants don't have queens, some have queens without wing scars, some are semi-claustural, the list goes on and on. And that's JUST on rearing queens. A book that would cover everything would have to be 200+ pages long and at that point any casual beginner would have lost interest.


And yet, we already have a beginners guide that is quite brief yet covers the most necessary information in most of those subjects. I don’t think many beginners would lose interest in parasitic ants. For me, as a beginner they made antkeeping even more wonderful and fascinating.
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#13 Offline Ants4fun - Posted May 19 2020 - 5:41 PM

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So far, the poll results indicate many people would be interested in more informational ant keeping media. I have plenty of professional videography and photography equipment and experience at my disposal, and will most likely undertake this task soon. Feel free to follow my Instagram @ants4fun where I’ll start to post informational content, as well as updates on an ant E-course!
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#14 Offline AntsDakota - Posted May 19 2020 - 6:37 PM

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I think part of the problem is that ants are so diverse, it's almost impossible for any one collection of information to cover everything. "All I need to do is take my queen and put her in a test tube, wait a couple months and I have workers? Got it" Wellll, some ants don't have queens, some have queens without wing scars, some are semi-claustural, the list goes on and on. And that's JUST on rearing queens. A book that would cover everything would have to be 200+ pages long and at that point any casual beginner would have lost interest.

Solution- have beginners keep beginner species.


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"God made..... all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. (including ants) And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25 NIV versionCurrently Keeping: Aphaenogaster picea, Aphaenogaster rudis, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Formica subsericea, Lasius americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Myrmica sp., Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, Ponera pennsylvanica ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________My Journal__________________________________________________________________________________________<p>Attention South Dakotans! Join us on The SoDAK (Society of Dakotan Ant Keepers)

#15 Offline ConcordAntman - Posted May 19 2020 - 7:20 PM

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Every decent book I own is over 200 pages. I guess it’s a generational thing.

Why ANTDrew, you’re still a youngster  :D! I agree with you though, I’d prefer a book in either digital or print format. AC’s e-booklet is a decent primer. It can whet your appetite for gaining more specific knowledge. But for that, you need a book. Hölldobler & Wilson’s The Ants at almost 740 pages, is encyclopedic. I’ve had my copy almost 30 years and have read it piecemeal to address questions that arose as I tend my colonies. Journey to the Ants by the same authors, is more accessible, less didactic. 

 

Ants4fun, there’s no question that a high quality blog on aspects of antkeeping would be of value to our community, but I don’t think it’s enough. I suspect the breadth of our community runs from those who think a gel formicarium would be a decorative accessory to a budding doctoral candidate in myrmecology. An e-book and blog would likely satisfy the former but not the latter. Validated, didactic information is the lifeblood for a serious hobbyist. The texts I mentioned supply some of that information, biological and entomological journals add to the knowledge base as do various communiques from some of our hobby’s vendors. I’d welcome easier access to scientific journals as another resource. The more we learn about our charges, the better we can care for them and the more amazing they appear.  
 

Just my two cents!


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#16 Offline OhNoNotAgain - Posted May 19 2020 - 7:31 PM

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This might be derailing the topic a bit, but the internet itself is the best resource right now. I say this because when I first started, there was no internet as we know it. Certainly no YouTube, no Formiculture.com. There MIGHT have been somewhere on Usenet that might have been able to help, but very unlikely overall.

 

On a more relevant theme, it might be nice to have an impartial equipment review site (though I agree that THA is sort of the gold standard - and so many formicaria creators pop up and go bust that it might be almost moot).

 

The beginners' guides here and the one I saw on reddit seem to be very helpful, and I even plunked down some $$ and got AC's e-book.

 

Now, what might really be good is some kind of detailed guide on beginners' species to keep per state. THAT would have helped me a lot. I appreciate all the sellers who list "beginner/intermediate" "hibernation/no hibernation" and other information. Things I care about:

 

- difficulty

- diet

- diurnal/nocturnal

- brumination/hibernation/diapause requirements

- size

- heating requirements

- color

- anything unusual or esp. interesting


Veromessor: pergandei, andrei

Camponotus: fragilis (separate journal), sansabeanus, vicinus

Prenolepis: imparis

Pogonomyrmex: californicus; subnitidus

Tetramorium: sp.

Termites: Zootermopsis: angusticollis

(Each genus above has its own journal here on Formiculture)

 

Isopods: A. gestroi, granulatum, kluugi, maculatum, vulgare; C. murina; P. haasi, P. ornatus; V. parvus

Spoods: Phidippus sp.


#17 Offline Ants4fun - Posted May 19 2020 - 7:55 PM

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Every decent book I own is over 200 pages. I guess it’s a generational thing.

Why ANTDrew, you’re still a youngster :D! I agree with you though, I’d prefer a book in either digital or print format. AC’s e-booklet is a decent primer. It can whet your appetite for gaining more specific knowledge. But for that, you need a book. Hölldobler & Wilson’s The Ants at almost 740 pages, is encyclopedic. I’ve had my copy almost 30 years and have read it piecemeal to address questions that arose as I tend my colonies. Journey to the Ants by the same authors, is more accessible, less didactic.

Ants4fun, there’s no question that a high quality blog on aspects of antkeeping would be of value to our community, but I don’t think it’s enough. I suspect the breadth of our community runs from those who think a gel formicarium would be a decorative accessory to a budding doctoral candidate in myrmecology. An e-book and blog would likely satisfy the former but not the latter. Validated, didactic information is the lifeblood for a serious hobbyist. The texts I mentioned supply some of that information, biological and entomological journals add to the knowledge base as do various communiques from some of our hobby’s vendors. I’d welcome easier access to scientific journals as another resource. The more we learn about our charges, the better we can care for them and the more amazing they appear.

Just my two cents!
I agree! I think the challenge is taking something like a scientific journal, that may be difficult for a beginner to understand, and breaking it down to usable information that they can apply. That’s the challenge I hope to address.

This might be derailing the topic a bit, but the internet itself is the best resource right now. I say this because when I first started, there was no internet as we know it. Certainly no YouTube, no Formiculture.com. There MIGHT have been somewhere on Usenet that might have been able to help, but very unlikely overall.

On a more relevant theme, it might be nice to have an impartial equipment review site (though I agree that THA is sort of the gold standard - and so many formicaria creators pop up and go bust that it might be almost moot).

The beginners' guides here and the one I saw on reddit seem to be very helpful, and I even plunked down some $$ and got AC's e-book.

Now, what might really be good is some kind of detailed guide on beginners' species to keep per state. THAT would have helped me a lot. I appreciate all the sellers who list "beginner/intermediate" "hibernation/no hibernation" and other information. Things I care about:

- difficulty
- diet
- diurnal/nocturnal
- brumination/hibernation/diapause requirements
- size
- heating requirements
- color
- anything unusual or esp. interesting

Good beginner species by state and a non biased review of common, easily accessed formicarium is 2 major themes I will explore.

Edited by Ants4fun, May 19 2020 - 7:56 PM.

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#18 Offline Serafine - Posted May 20 2020 - 1:35 AM

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IDK if that would be so excellent. Higher chances of government intervention.

Government intervention is unlikely to happen due to the size of a hobby but due to the carelessness of hobbyists, like when the USDA banned foreign millipedes in the early 2000s because their traders didn't bother to properly healthcheck them and it turned out some of them had mites that could spell disaster to agriculture (many species are still available as captive breeds, something that doesn't work well for most ants).
That's why individual responsibility within a petkeeping community is so important.
 

I would like to see a good old fashioned book. All the internet resources are maddeningly shallow in my opinion.
All my other hobbies like birding, native plants, and fermentation have whole libraries dedicated to them. Ant keeping? Nothing.

Which is why journals and projects like wikis and caresheet databases are important.
If antkeepers don't step up and fill the void, nobody will.
 

At the same time, I tend to agree with NickAnter. How much do we need to grow this hobby? It could lead to more problems.

Antkeeping will always stay a niche hobby within a niche hobby - even isopodkeeping absolutely dwarfs antkeeping by a country mile.
You may get the impression that antkeeping is a big thing when watching AntsCanada or surfing ant forums, but the truth is it isn't.
 

On a more relevant theme, it might be nice to have an impartial equipment review site (though I agree that THA is sort of the gold standard - and so many formicaria creators pop up and go bust that it might be almost moot).

It's not just Formicaria makers, recently there's a lot of people who think selling exotic ants is a quick and easy way to make money, only to find out that the market is becoming increasingly oversaturated (particularly the european one). Naturally they'll aim to lower their expenses which often means cutting corners and omitting regulatory processes (like exportation permit fees) - in the end they are paving the way for government intervention, increased regulation and bans. Happened to other petkeeping hobbies before, yet antkeepers still think they're different.
 

The beginners' guides here and the one I saw on reddit seem to be very helpful, and I even plunked down some $$ and got AC's e-book.
 
Now, what might really be good is some kind of detailed guide on beginners' species to keep per state. THAT would have helped me a lot. I appreciate all the sellers who list "beginner/intermediate" "hibernation/no hibernation" and other information. Things I care about:
 
- difficulty
- diet
- diurnal/nocturnal
- brumination/hibernation/diapause requirements
- size
- heating requirements
- color
- anything unusual or esp. interesting

There's the reddit caresheet library and the ant-keepingwiki (which is currently down and will move to a better place soon), both have most of that data.

 

Problem is people need to actively participate in those project and well, most of them don't.

Everyone loves to have stuff readily available for easy consumption but when it comes to actually creating this stuff in the first place volunteers are sparse and far between.


Edited by Serafine, May 20 2020 - 2:33 AM.

We should respect all forms of consciousness. The body is just a vessel, a mere hull.

Join the antkeeping discord chat! & reddit - r/antkeeping

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#19 Offline Barristan - Posted May 20 2020 - 3:02 AM

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And everybody wants to do their own thing, like creating new nuptial flight map apps, even when there are already existing ones, or creating new ant wiki website despite the fact that there are already.

 

Maybe not banning so many people would also help to make people contribute, but yeah now there are multiple discord servers, because the people who ran the glorious big one banned so many people, well done ;)


Edited by Barristan, May 20 2020 - 3:02 AM.


#20 Offline AntsDakota - Posted May 20 2020 - 4:51 AM

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I'm working on a wiki which translates information from AntWiki to a more simple and understandable form, for new ant keepers: AntsDakota.com.


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"God made..... all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. (including ants) And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25 NIV versionCurrently Keeping: Aphaenogaster picea, Aphaenogaster rudis, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Formica subsericea, Lasius americanus, Lasius aphidicola, Myrmica sp., Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, Ponera pennsylvanica ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________My Journal__________________________________________________________________________________________<p>Attention South Dakotans! Join us on The SoDAK (Society of Dakotan Ant Keepers)





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