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Best way to thoroughly clean ant excrement from formicariums?

deep clean cleaning mini hearth

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5 replies to this topic

#1 Offline BleepingBleepers - Posted February 26 2024 - 9:15 AM

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Smell is building up, especially in one of my ant's nest

And yes, ants can and do smell.

 

I got them in Mini Hearth XL nests.

 

The small outworld at the top is really starting to stink as the ants are starting to use it as a bathroom.

 

Is there a chemical that dries clean and safe but can soak in and dissolve all that gunky excrement from formicariums?

 

From some digging around a little, which I'll do more later:

 

1. Diluted white vinegar

2. Hydrogen Peroxide

3. I use to be a parrot keeper and I'm looking into this:

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B0002G7ZQE

 

It's a bird poop remover that dissolves gunky bird poop and is said to be non toxic. I was thinking of dabbing that on the surface for first stage cleaning and then dipping it in Peroxide once or twice over before putting a few ants in to test before reopening again for service. Am still researching it.

 

I'm trying to avoid any real scrubbing as it'll take off a lot of the sand in the nest. Would prefer minimal amount of scrubbing, a spray it on and wait method.

 

Possible or do I need to replace it with a new nest altogether?

 

I have researched but haven't tried the methods above, what's your experience and outcome for those of you that have done it? (the vinegar and peroxide method) and was the outcome to your liking like "wow, it got off almost all of the gunk and smell! and with little effort!" or "ehhh, it'll do but I can still see all the stain and it still kinda smells a bit...and it was way too much work" kinda result?

 

Gotta figure out a way to detach the outworld too, prob just pop it off?

 

Thanks beforehand.


Edited by BleepingBleepers, February 26 2024 - 9:32 AM.

JOURNAL: Camponotus CA02 - First Time At Ant Keeping CLICK HERE

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#2 Offline BleepingBleepers - Posted February 26 2024 - 12:31 PM

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Alright so I gathered some info during the time and this is what I got in reply to myself, in case anyone else wants to know.

 

HOWEVER, def feel free to add extra info, any would be helpful and appreciated.

 

1. For smells in the XL outworld, I was given a good, quick option of covering it up with thin layer of sand, maybe some small pebbles, and wetting it, let it pack down, maybe do it one more time for a double layer. The PRO of this is it isn't permanent and you can prob vacuum it out later like scooping out kitty litter.

2. Another, IMO better way at sealing the smell but more permanent alternative to number 1 is to vacuum the outworld, clean and scrape it as much as you can, wetting it a bit and then covering it over with thin but not too thin layer of premixed ultracal 30 or other non toxic formicarium building material. Then let it cure / dry completely (tops off to ventilate) over a few days just to be safe.

3. A full dip in diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide (left overnight or longer and fully dried and aired out, rinse and repeat as needed), from what I gathered, seem to help remove some of the minor stains and the bad smells. However, it probably won't dissolve and clean the more soiled areas without some good scrubbing and only to an extent. The con would be having to completely vacate the ants before this, so a much more intrusive method, though probably the only way to clean it if you need to clean the outworld along with the nest. Edit: Spot cleaning is also possible as I've done this, though as you can imagine, it's not as thorough as a full dip and mostly just for lightly soiled areas. This requires sectioning off the area completely (using a plug to block off the hole) and using a Q tip or something, apply to area, then wiping it dry, repeat, does help with some bit of stain and smell. Both pure vinegar and hydrogen peroxide should leave no residue to harm your ants once dry, but just make sure it's thoroughly aired out which can take a day or longer.

 

The mini hearth XL outworld, from what I was told and not because I've actually done it, can be pulled off without too much effort or damage and put back on with hot glue or silicone used around the bathroom (fully cured to avoid any toxic fumes). Though the results / outcome would vary, depending on the person doing it so take care.

 

I'll update this info once I've actually tried some of the stuff. Still will research into the bird poop cleaner mentioned before.

 

 

P.S.

seems like I'm not the only one that notice ants nests / outworld do indeed give off a noticeable odor, from their excrement to the formic acid that some spray and also uneaten food. Even with attempts at keeping clean, I've noticed the smell even in small colonies of just 100-200 workers.


Edited by BleepingBleepers, February 26 2024 - 6:41 PM.

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JOURNAL: Ectomomyrmex cf. astutus - Ant Species #2 CLICK HERE


#3 Offline ExponentMars - Posted February 26 2024 - 5:39 PM

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This is a very insightful post, and I will be sure to use this information while cleaning up my box full of dirty supplies. 


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Ants, gaming
Currently Keeping: 
Crematogaster sp., Camponotus Ca02, Tetramorium Immigrans
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#4 Online futurebird - Posted February 26 2024 - 6:55 PM

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This is why I prefer glass and wood whenever possible. And sand or clay floors. The glass can always be fully cleaned. The wood is much less prone to smells and the covers can be removed and a tooth brush with a drop of dish soap works great. 

 

Sand as a substrate minimizes smells and can be scooped, rinsed many times and replaced. 

 

It's also important to supply ants with the right sized nest to deter trash piles in the nest. 

 

And some species are just messy. Especially Lasius and nicos. 


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

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


#5 Offline BleepingBleepers - Posted February 26 2024 - 7:34 PM

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This is why I prefer glass and wood whenever possible. And sand or clay floors. The glass can always be fully cleaned. The wood is much less prone to smells and the covers can be removed and a tooth brush with a drop of dish soap works great. 

 

Sand as a substrate minimizes smells and can be scooped, rinsed many times and replaced. 

 

It's also important to supply ants with the right sized nest to deter trash piles in the nest. 

 

And some species are just messy. Especially Lasius and nicos. 

I didn't know wood would make that kinda difference, interesting and I'll look into it, thanks for bringing that up. That being said, I would like wood but they seem more expensive or for a DIY, significantly more tedious to carve out.

 

I also like sand but one of my issues that I'm noticing with using sand is

- My carpenter ants don't like walking on loose sand. I'll try packing it up a bit more. I thought just putting sand in there would be okay but now I understand why they're not crazy about exploring it.

- Both of my ants like to dig it up, one of them much more so than the other.

- One of my ants likes to cover stuff up with sand, including their water / food dish. It definitely adds quite a bit of extra cleaning time every time I do maintenance.

 

I also aim for the right size nest but the issue that I'm finding is:

- Ants can huddle together, so what seems like the right size can be too roomy if they huddle together then any empty space can end up as a trash area.

- When upgrading to a bigger nest, which can be costly, usually the point of the upgrade is to make a significant expansion that can last for the year or years to come and now we're again dealing with too much room.

 

So I'll go into exploring other nest materials, ESPECIALLY for my ants that are not so neat and clean. Like my Ecto ants, I'm now thinking of plastic filled with sand that can quickly be flushed and cleaned with water.  The sand will be wet, which will keep it packed and in place, but I like a side view (like how they are now in the mini hearth XL) as opposed to a top down view so going to think about it a bit.

 

Anyhow, as usual, just chit chatting for fun and throwing out some of my thoughts, appreciate what you said, like hearing your thoughts and ideas, it'll give me something to search up on.


Edited by BleepingBleepers, February 26 2024 - 7:36 PM.

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#6 Offline Mushu - Posted March 1 2024 - 6:52 PM

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This is why I prefer glass and wood whenever possible. And sand or clay floors. The glass can always be fully cleaned. The wood is much less prone to smells and the covers can be removed and a tooth brush with a drop of dish soap works great. 

 

Sand as a substrate minimizes smells and can be scooped, rinsed many times and replaced. 

 

It's also important to supply ants with the right sized nest to deter trash piles in the nest. 

 

And some species are just messy. Especially Lasius and nicos. 

Indeed, that's why even with the mini hearth outworlds and an additional outworld I have sand in both. I also dump some into the nest, although the Myrmecocystus placodops are good at bringing sand in. Basically the inside of the mini hearth has a sand layer and when they dump trash out or eventually dump the sand out it's bringing out at least some of the mess from inside. This would be harder for larger, multilevel nest.  I just use a aspirator with a fuel hand pump and it takes out minimal  sand(except if it's dirty I'll take it out).  In fact you probably can recycle and wash the sand if you wanted to. Outworlds are pretty spotless this way, but will see when Colony gets a bit larger how it pans out. 


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