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UtahAnts' Formicariums and Outworlds

formicariums nest hobby lobby perfect cast wood plaster formicarium firebrick grout images

103 replies to this topic

#81 Offline UtahAnts - Posted April 14 2022 - 4:47 PM

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For this custom build I used the same type of fine grain beach sand I used with my first multilevel nest. This was for a customer's large formica colony, although any large species would have done fine in this nest. With its 4 double-sided levels, this is the largest formicarium I've built so far.


Looks exactly like Tarheel ant nest designs(But much more cost effective). Was that an inspiration?

 

 
Yes, most of the nests I make are for customers who want a cheaper alternative to THA. However to my knowledge, Mack uses a different clay-based technique to make most of his nests. The way I do it with sand, no epoxy need be applied to get the sand to stick to the walls. Using sand instead of clay will also often result in flat floored chambers. Both techniques work fine, they just have slightly different aesthetics and creation processes. I prefer not to use epoxy or adhesive in the chambers, so I've tried to stick with natural sand for my formicariums.
 
I've also done some Foranto and Antshack inspired nests along with a few of my own designs, just look at previous pages.

Edited by UtahAnts, April 14 2022 - 4:50 PM.

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#82 Offline UtahAnts - Posted May 2 2022 - 6:22 PM

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I have a surplus of those dollar store cloche domes, so I've been trying different things with them. Here's an out world I made a month ago for my Carpenter ants, Camponotus hyatti. Attached is a Foranto nest.
I'm also trying a new non-barrier feeding system at the top of the dome, by using a plastic cylindrical container (also from the dollar store) with the bottom cut out, essentially creating a chute with which the ants have trouble rushing the opening during feeding time. I don't have fluon and so far this chute is a perfect substitute. When cleaning the outworld, obviously removing the outworld dome would result in ants everywhere, so by using the feeding chute and a long pair of terrarium tweezers, I can easily access the inside of the outworld.
 
IMG 5013 (1)
 
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#83 Offline SolenopsisKeeper- - Posted May 3 2022 - 5:32 AM

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I like the fact the ants come from under(Entrance)! Kind of like AusAnt nests?
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#84 Offline UtahAnts - Posted May 3 2022 - 5:13 PM

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I like the fact the ants come from under(Entrance)! Kind of like AusAnt nests?

 

I didn't even think about that when making the outworld but it definitely has some similarities to an AusAnts entrance. I think the only advantage with an entrance under the outworld is that it looks a bit better than a traditional side entrance with an exposed tube sticking out of the side of the outworld. If anything it actually encourages the ants to bring food into the tube and the attached nest. It seems that most ants don't like to carry food up into a tube, but will happily bring it into their nest opening as they would in the wild.


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#85 Offline SolenopsisKeeper- - Posted May 3 2022 - 5:56 PM

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I like the fact the ants come from under(Entrance)! Kind of like AusAnt nests?

 
I didn't even think about that when making the outworld but it definitely has some similarities to an AusAnts entrance. I think the only advantage with an entrance under the outworld is that it looks a bit better than a traditional side entrance with an exposed tube sticking out of the side of the outworld. If anything it actually encourages the ants to bring food into the tube and the attached nest. It seems that most ants don't like to carry food up into a tube, but will happily bring it into their nest opening as they would in the wild.

I like that my ants bring crickets back, it means they have no waste products(How?) and no mess to clean up. I mean it, ZERO waste product

#86 Offline UtahAnts - Posted May 31 2022 - 4:00 PM

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I was helping a friend with a reptile backdrop and had some excess grout. We were combining natural red/oxide rich clay from the mountains with unsanded polyblend grout. I decided to pour the grout in some containers lying around, and came back a couple days later when the grout was completely dry. A simple drill was used to carve the chambers and water tower hole. All of the drill bits I used dulled noticeably, so a word of caution to anyone carving with a drill to use an old or cheap drill set when carving grout. I added a perfect cast water tower (see previous posts) in a square container to provide humidity. I used a thin sheet of Plexiglas and a bandsaw to get the round corners.
 
Overall I really like how the texture of the grout is similar to concrete, it's something I've always wanted to do. It might be hard to notice as well, but some of the clay added to the grout did not break down, leading to a really neat speckled texture. The grout mixture we made was very thick as well, something I'm sure contributed to the strength of this nest, it's basically concrete: no cracks formed when it dried and I'm sure not even Crematogaster could chew through this setup.
 
 
Halfway done, you can see the square water reservoir which fits into a rectangular hole.
 
IMG 5469

 

 

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IMG 7784

 

I'm finishing the other nest from the same grout mixture so stay tuned!

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#87 Offline T.C. - Posted May 31 2022 - 7:27 PM

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Looks good. Just keep in mind from my experience as clay becomes humid and then dries it can crack. Perhaps the grout mixed in will prevent that.


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BioScorpion Formicarium's

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"No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth" -Plato


#88 Offline UtahAnts - Posted May 31 2022 - 8:07 PM

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It seems the liquid grout seeped into the clay, leaving it quite hard. Hopefully the clay won't crack because of this, I'll keep you updated.


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#89 Offline UtahAnts - Posted May 31 2022 - 8:22 PM

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I finished the other memorial day grout nest, I designed this one with Tetramorium and Lasius nests in mind, based on what I've seen flipping rocks and such. Unfortunately, I'm sold out of those genera, so I'll probably move a large Monomorium colony into this nest. I think they'll still appreciate the tunnels and humidity gradients.

 

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IMG 7762

 


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#90 Offline lazyant - Posted May 31 2022 - 8:25 PM

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OH MY GOD that dog bone nest looks beautiful!

I wish I could be as good at making nests as you!


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#91 Offline T.C. - Posted May 31 2022 - 8:35 PM

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That does look pretty nice. How does the hydration work on it?
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tn_gallery_7007_2188_16206.png

BioScorpion Formicarium's

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"No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth" -Plato


#92 Offline UtahAnts - Posted May 31 2022 - 9:29 PM

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The two small holes on the side can be directly hydrated, or the bottom of the nest has some holes that a sponge wick can be placed into, transfering water from a lower water reservoir (not pictured).


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#93 Offline T.C. - Posted May 31 2022 - 10:03 PM

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The two small holes on the side can be directly hydrated, or the bottom of the nest has some holes that a sponge wick can be placed into, transfering water from a lower water reservoir (not pictured).

 

Well they look awesome. You should get some colonies in them and test them out. If they were successful I might be interested in buying a few. I am so busy creating new formicarium's and testing them I have around 30 colonies in multi test tube setups still waiting on formicarium's. I'd like to have a variety of setups, not just mine. I bought a few THA setups to help me out a little but I still need more. 


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tn_gallery_7007_2188_16206.png

BioScorpion Formicarium's

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"No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth" -Plato


#94 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 1 2022 - 1:52 AM

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That really looks like something the ants would make. Beautiful!
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#95 Offline UtahAnts - Posted June 12 2022 - 9:30 PM

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Newest nest for a Camponotus vicinus colony in need of new formicarium. The queen layed a nice batch of eggs as soon as she moved in.

 

IMG 5475 (1)

 

 

Some workers tending the growing brood pile.

 

IMG 5491
 
IMG 7836

 


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#96 Offline UtahAnts - Posted June 29 2022 - 3:58 PM

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A new wood nest for a Camponotus species. I used a router to create the tunnels, which doesn't leave behind the unsightly indentations the drill press I've used for previous wood formicariums does.

 

Cedar was used for the nest block which, while being a relatively softer wood, should resist mold much better then other coniferous woods I could have used. 

 

I used a dremel to smooth the walls and create small bowl-like indentations in the floor, which should add extra space for brood. To finish I used organic olive oil.

 

 

IMG 7972
 
IMG 7980
 
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IMG 7963

 


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#97 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 29 2022 - 4:37 PM

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Amazing!
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.

#98 Offline UtahAnts - Posted July 3 2022 - 12:12 PM

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After using a router on the last build, I felt I could try something larger. I bought some Acacia wood cross sections and sanded off the finish they came with. Apparently Acacia wood is pretty durable as far as hardwoods go, so it should hold up to a large colony.
 
That being said, ants can chew through just about any wood with proper motivation. Seeing this can be a problem when space is limited in wood formicariums, I wanted this formicarium to be able to be easily expanded as the colony grows. So simply by plugging each of the three sections off from one another, and then when the time comes, removing the barrier from the tunnel between two sections the colony can naturally expand without a forced move, something Camponotus are notorious for being stubborn about.
 
This formicarium would probably be best for small Camponotus species that can have relatively large and fast growing colonies such as C. discolor
 
 
IMG 8012
 
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#99 Offline m99 - Posted July 3 2022 - 12:31 PM

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Love the idea of different glass sections for each expansion, should make management a lot more convenient.


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#100 Offline UtahAnts - Posted July 13 2022 - 11:07 AM

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A nucleus type nest, this one was made for a growing Myrmecocystus colony. High chambers should allow great visibility and room to spare for the repletes. The sand in the outworld was taken from around a navajo colony entrance, so the inhabiting colony should feel right at home.

 

IMG 8056
 
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