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My queen ant searching journey. How long does it take?


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#1 Offline voylin - Posted August 21 2021 - 1:40 PM

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So I am a person who likes tracking and journalling things. This is my first time looking for queen ants here in Japan, so everytime I went out to search, I started writing down where I went and the kind of ants I saw and where. (right now it's just size and colors of ants:p)

# My first 3 hours.
No luck at finding any queens but I was at a big park and saw a couple of species. Also saw a lot of different insects.

# 4-5 hour.
Hooray! I found a queen ant ... or so I thought. Turned out the be a ant mimicing spider. Whilst catching that one an older woman was standing behind me and was staring at me. She was curious to as what I was doing. We had a small talk and I received candy.

# 6-15 hours.
Was very dissapointing, maybe the areas where I was looking were not right but I couldn't even find any kind of worker ant.

# 16-22 hours.
I have been very busy with work but I would skip taking trains and walk instead to look. It is basically evening/night so I was looking with my flashlight. However, this also turned out to be unsuccessful. :c


# Future plan and questions
This evening I'll try again after work. I will go to a big park again where I've seen the most species so far and hope to find a queen there. Else I will probably go early morning towards the mountains on my bicycle to wage my chances there.

Do you guys have any advice? I'm almost at a total time of 24 hours of looking. I'm really questioning if I'm doing something wrong. It has been very rainy.the last weeks, it may be because of that. By all times I am carrying test tubes just in case. Any advice? :s
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#2 Offline futurebird - Posted August 21 2021 - 1:46 PM

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TBH I went out searching for ants in NYC parks 5 times, each time for several hours. Didn't find any queens. I had a good time identifying the local species... but I just felt like giving up on ever finding a queen in NYC. "it's just too dense and urban here"

 

But then, one day I'm walking to the bodega to get some milk and there is a queen ant running down the sidewalk like she was on her way to a job interview or something. It turned out to be a lasius sp. possibly an exotic one! She is currently tending her first batch of larva. 

 

But part of how I was able to spot her was that I've been looking at ants so much I can tell it's an ant from how it moves... even from the corner of my eye. I don't think I would have noticed her before I got into this hobby. I also had a test tube in my purse prepared for a queen. I don't leave the house without one and it paid off since I was able to safely collect her. 

 

I guess my point is sometimes you have to stop looking for something ... to find it. 


Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#3 Offline mmcguffi - Posted August 21 2021 - 1:50 PM

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Have you tried looking around bright lights in the evening/night? Without fail, I can usually find a handful of queens around my front porch light at this time of the year, and much more so after it has rained. 

 

I'm not sure what city you are in, but since some Japanese cities can be much more densely-populated than many American cities, maybe also try around the edges of town? I easily find queens in the center of Austin, but Austin is not a very compact city

 

So I guess in summary, try looking around bright lights in the evening after a rain, and not in the city center. Good luck!



#4 Offline gcsnelling - Posted August 21 2021 - 1:52 PM

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Simple fact is it takes as long as it take.



#5 Offline ANTdrew - Posted August 21 2021 - 3:14 PM

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Try blacklighting! It may be getting a bit late in the year for it, but I bet you’ll find at least some tiny species.

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#6 Offline voylin - Posted August 21 2021 - 3:26 PM

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Have you tried looking around bright lights in the evening/night? Without fail, I can usually find a handful of queens around my front porch light at this time of the year, and much more so after it has rained. 
 
I'm not sure what city you are in, but since some Japanese cities can be much more densely-populated than many American cities, maybe also try around the edges of town? I easily find queens in the center of Austin, but Austin is not a very compact city
 
So I guess in summary, try looking around bright lights in the evening after a rain, and not in the city center. Good luck!

This is my main way of looking for ants in the dark. If I don't see anything swarming around the lights or crawling under them, then I just move on to the next light. In the past week of searching at night, I haven't spotted a single one so far. 
I honestly start to think that this may be the problem. Almost nobody in my city, or surrounding cities, has a garden and even the parks that we do have, there aren't many, occupy a space the size of 2 small houses. The biggest park is 40 minutes with my bicycle away and that's a very decent sized park. Will go there tonight as there's a full moon as well, I think that may help ^^"
 

 

Try blacklighting! It may be getting a bit late in the year for it, but I bet you’ll find at least some tiny species.

I would love to try that as I saw some people being very succesful with that. But it's already a miracle that my wife even allows me to do this hobby as she is extremly afraid of insects. She gave me a budget a month and that was just enough to buy a couple of test tubes ^^" I will try a blacklight next year for sure if I didn't manage to capture a single queen ant this year though.



#7 Offline NancyZamora4991 - Posted August 21 2021 - 3:55 PM

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you let an adult give you candy? Lol



#8 Offline Kaelwizard - Posted August 21 2021 - 4:19 PM

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you let an adult give you candy? Lol

I doubt the old lady had any malicious intent  :rolleyes:

 

I am honestly in a similar situation. I normally don't find any queens if I am actually looking for them.


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#9 Offline voylin - Posted August 21 2021 - 4:22 PM

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you let an adult give you candy? Lol

Very common thing here, even though I am 26, they will always give me candy just as a thank you for talking to them. Old people here always carry candy with them. 😁😅

Edited by voylin, August 21 2021 - 4:22 PM.

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#10 Offline ANTdrew - Posted August 21 2021 - 5:27 PM

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You can get a UV blacklight bulb for $10. That should fit just about any budget. It’s so worth it, man.
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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.


#11 Offline AntBoi3030 - Posted August 22 2021 - 6:43 AM

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Try blacklighting! It may be getting a bit late in the year for it, but I bet you’ll find at least some tiny species.

Brachymyrmex and selonopis molesta can be found
Edit: oh they’re tiny species lol

Edited by AntBoi3030, August 22 2021 - 6:44 AM.

My favorite queens/colony’s:
Pheidole Tysoni, Selonopis Molesta, Brachymyrmex Depilis, Tetramorium Immagrians, Prenolepis Imparis, Pheidole Bicirinata 


#12 Offline voylin - Posted August 23 2021 - 4:09 AM

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# 22-23 hours:
Been to the 2 biggest parks (forest sized parks) but again no luck. I know patience is needed, but it's starting to feel like this won't be the year in which I start ... :c
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#13 Offline AntBoi3030 - Posted August 23 2021 - 4:14 AM

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Lasius are flying in The us you still have time. Look after 5pm and I think you’ll have better luck
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My favorite queens/colony’s:
Pheidole Tysoni, Selonopis Molesta, Brachymyrmex Depilis, Tetramorium Immagrians, Prenolepis Imparis, Pheidole Bicirinata 


#14 Offline muddsnake88 - Posted August 23 2021 - 10:34 AM

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# 22-23 hours:
Been to the 2 biggest parks (forest sized parks) but again no luck. I know patience is needed, but it's starting to feel like this won't be the year in which I start ... :c

What research are you doing before you search? I'm not familiar with Nuptial Flights in Japan but there might be a chart somewhere that would help you to know when they are flying. Weather conditions play a big role as well.

 

It is my first year of this hobby and I have struggled as well. I think a lot of finding queens has to do with being in the right place at the right time. I'm in Utah and I'll drive around to find a few nests of places of species I'm looking for. And still it is a big mixed bag of results for the unexperienced. 

 

But it has gotten me out and enjoying nature a lot more than I used to. It sounds like you are sharing some of the same by walking to work etc. And at least it sounds like you scored some free candy!  On a side note, I find the people of Japan to be amazing. Their whole outlook on life is so different than what I've experienced. They genuinely seem like very wholesome people in general. 



#15 Offline voylin - Posted August 23 2021 - 2:29 PM

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# 22-23 hours:
Been to the 2 biggest parks (forest sized parks) but again no luck. I know patience is needed, but it's starting to feel like this won't be the year in which I start ... :c

What research are you doing before you search? I'm not familiar with Nuptial Flights in Japan but there might be a chart somewhere that would help you to know when they are flying. Weather conditions play a big role as well.

It is my first year of this hobby and I have struggled as well. I think a lot of finding queens has to do with being in the right place at the right time. I'm in Utah and I'll drive around to find a few nests of places of species I'm looking for. And still it is a big mixed bag of results for the unexperienced.

But it has gotten me out and enjoying nature a lot more than I used to. It sounds like you are sharing some of the same by walking to work etc. And at least it sounds like you scored some free candy! On a side note, I find the people of Japan to be amazing. Their whole outlook on life is so different than what I've experienced. They genuinely seem like very wholesome people in general.

That's a good point, it is a way to get outside more and stroll in nature. I have always enjoyed nature quite a lot.

https://docs.google....it?usp=drivesdk
This is some of my own research of Nuptial flights here in Japan and I use this in combination with a site called Ant Base Tokyo as he explains on which days, weather and what kind of locations you have the best chance of finding them.

I can't speak for all Japanese people, but so far I only have good experiences and really enjoying living here. I don't feel shamed to look close to the floor and such whilst looking for ants as looking for insects is a very popular hobby here.

I managed to convince my wife to come to the park with me tonight to try and find a queen ant. I still don't know how I pulled that one off. 😅 Let's hope I have more chance today, but apparently you can find quren ants here untill November, so there is still time.
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#16 Offline voylin - Posted August 25 2021 - 10:42 PM

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# 23-25 hours

Me and my wife went looking together but again no luck. On the positive side, my wife is starting to become used to looking at insects xD

# 25-26 hours

I think I'm going to give up, it's been so long now. Woke up at 4 in the morning had an hour bike ride to the biggest park which is in a one hour radius from my house, and guess what ... not a single one again. The day before was rainy and that morning was very nice humid warm sunny a nice breeze, perfect I thought .... Well musquitos had another go at me, this time at both of my elbows ... I don't know, but it feels like queen ants are avoiding me.
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#17 Offline smares - Posted August 25 2021 - 11:17 PM

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It is also important to look for ants everywhere you go! I find tons of Tetramorium in front of building oddly enough. I've found Solenopsis on the blacktop of a round-about. They were so so hard to see because of there size.

Just be vigilant everywhere you go. I find many of my queens accidentally. I've read about others who found tons of queens behind a bunch of building where trash is dumped. They were just running on the cement and blacktop with literally no good habitat for them to nest in.

Keep your eyes open and look everywhere. Just because an area has good habitat doesn't mean queens will congregate there. Conversely, just because an area is all pavement doesn't mean they won't land there!

Happy hunting!
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#18 Offline JCRHJM - Posted August 26 2021 - 12:24 AM

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If you have a swimming pool, or know someone with a swimming pool queen ants always end up in there, some of them have mated already, some not. I have been able to raise colonies of iridomyrmex, pheidole and rhytidoponera off queens that I have rescued from my pool. 


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#19 Offline muddsnake88 - Posted August 26 2021 - 9:36 AM

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# 23-25 hours

Me and my wife went looking together but again no luck. On the positive side, my wife is starting to become used to looking at insects xD

# 25-26 hours

I think I'm going to give up, it's been so long now. Woke up at 4 in the morning had an hour bike ride to the biggest park which is in a one hour radius from my house, and guess what ... not a single one again. The day before was rainy and that morning was very nice humid warm sunny a nice breeze, perfect I thought .... Well musquitos had another go at me, this time at both of my elbows … I don't know, but it feels like queen ants are avoiding me.

Lol! My GF isn't very outdoorsy, but I got her to come once. We found 4 Pogonomyrmex queens in founding chambers so I think that it is good luck to bring a SO. Tell her all Ant hunters know this...

 

Don't get too frustrated. It is a very difficult target to hit, being in the right place at the right time. But when you do, that is what make it special.

 

So Perhaps I'll share a bit of my newbie experience this year:

 

In March, my GF allowed me to buy my 8 yr old ant farm. She probably regrets that now, lol, and that unwittingly started me down the deep and vast labyrinths of ant-keeping. We ordered Ants off of Amazon (I now know that they were Pogonomyrmex O.).They were only workers, so they died off after a couple of months but I grew further engrossed in many aspects of ant keeping ranging from founding colonies, nuptial flights, DIY formicariums, care, identification, brood boosting etc.... The list goes on and on.    

 

In June, bought a Componotous from a local Ant Keeper in June. This one I accidentally killed from heat exposure. I'm an idiot and it got too close to the heating coil that was under a towel. RIP queen Big-Butt. Not my choice for a name but what do you expect when you put it to an 8yr old?

 

Around the same time, I was on my motorcycle when I noticed there were tons of insects in the air. I ran home grabbed some test tubes and rescued about 10 Tetras. I say rescue because they were getting attacked by other Tetras. Since then I have only about 3 left. Two with about 10 nanitics,  I sent two to the Ant Keeper mentioned before. Both reportedly died. 

 

Only caught 1 roaming Pogonomyrmex in July all though there was lots of opportunity to do so. I blame poor timing and ignorance. However, I found out a bit about where some nests were. The biggest development though was probably in regard to online awareness. Sites like this, antwiki, antweb, antmaps, discord, reddit, the iNaturalist app, precipitation tracking, and even a local Facebook ant keeping group. The wandering Pogonomyrmex later died as she never was very comfortable in her chamber. 

 

It was in the beginning of August that the last one really paid off. I got a heads up from the Facebook group that Pogonomyrmex were flying and was able to snag four queens from their founding chambers. I think Dspdrew has a couple of excellent topics on this. One definitely has eggs and another that might have eggs but I can't tell. I really wanted them to be comfortable so they have more of a natural set up with loam. As for the other two, I think one escaped and the other died. 

 

Last Saturday, I took an 1.5 hour drive into the west desert in hopes of finding honey pots. I thought I had everything planned perfectly... equipment, previous colony sighting, nuptial flights for the species after rain at dawn... Another storm blew in and I ended up not being able to get the specific spot. I actually ended up stuck after driving over cut in the dirt road I was on. The cut had been undermined by a stream that formed from the heavy rain. Nearly fell into a sink hole and it ended up costing $1200 to get my car towed out. 

 

The next day my GF and I went to get my car. Everything on the car was fine so I started to look around in mud puddles. You should have seen the look on her face when I said that I was going to stay a little longer and look for queens, LOL! 

 

Anyways, I was able find about 20 yellow queens as they ran from Tetras. I think they are Lassius brevicornis. Not what I was looking for but still cool.

 

I like to think of it all as kind of an adventure. There is just too much failure and complexity built into the hobby to have rigid expectations. Maybe plan on something like a hike that overlaps with a good time for Anting. You might want to try ANTdrew's recommendation of trying blacklights. 


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#20 Offline Hauheset - Posted August 27 2021 - 7:17 PM

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Hey, I want to help, go into forests and split logs, prefferably rotting ones, I don't know Japan, but in the US I find Camponotus, Harvesters, Pharaohs, and a bunch of unidentified sp.

Some queens will be in their founding chambers, with brood, maybe workers too. 

Edit: I also find theif ants, lasius, and crazy ants.


Edited by Hauheset, August 27 2021 - 7:18 PM.





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