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Ant species for beginners

honeypotfire ants myrmica myrmica rubra begginer beginner species reccomendations aggressive polygynous ants help

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#1 Offline FishFingers - Posted April 7 2018 - 8:41 AM

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Hello, my fellow ANT-thusiasts! (Sorry, I just had to)
I am a beginning ant keeper that owns a colony of Myrmecocystus Mexicanus (I did not realise how hard these ants are on beginners) that I am looking to give away for free as they are not doing so well. I live in southern california, and I was wondering if Myrmica Rubra would be a good beginner’s species. I am intrigued by the aggressive nature of Fire ants, and I am also looking for a species that can accept multiple queens.
What do you guys think?

(Edit: I also own a spare THA Phalanx formicarium, would Myrmica Rubra enjoy that setup?)

Edited by FishFingers, April 7 2018 - 8:46 AM.


#2 Offline Ants4fun - Posted April 7 2018 - 9:46 AM

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Myrmica rubra is a pretty good beginner species, however you won't find them in California.

Camponotus sp. are great beginner ants. Pheidole are also good beginner ants, and many are polymorphic. Harvester ants are also good beginner ants. Pogonomyrmex and Veromessor.

Fire ants aren't the best beginner species. Although they reproduce fast and are hardy, they are escape artists and have a nasty sting. They can also quickly become unmanageable. Try solenopsis molesta instead. They are smaller and more manageable, but have many of the same advantages.
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#3 Offline YsTheAnt - Posted April 7 2018 - 10:34 AM

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Hello, my fellow ANT-thusiasts! (Sorry, I just had to)
I am a beginning ant keeper that owns a colony of Myrmecocystus Mexicanus (I did not realise how hard these ants are on beginners) that I am looking to give away for free as they are not doing so well. I live in southern california, and I was wondering if Myrmica Rubra would be a good beginner’s species. I am intrigued by the aggressive nature of Fire ants, and I am also looking for a species that can accept multiple queens.
What do you guys think?

(Edit: I also own a spare THA Phalanx formicarium, would Myrmica Rubra enjoy that setup?)

Wait till the next 80+ degree day, and go out near forests at night. Look on oak trees especially, along with the ground. You'll find Camponotus and maybe limeoptum (a fast growing beginner species). Both are great first colonies.

Myrmica rubra is not only a bit difficult to raise, but is also not found in CA. Pogonomyrmex is more intermediate, as they sting.

Veromessor are fun to keep, and you can find V. Pergandei after rain in deserts. They are relatively easy as well. You can check one of the SoCal anting pages for more info on those.
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#4 Offline 123LordOfAnts123 - Posted April 7 2018 - 11:26 AM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.
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#5 Offline YsTheAnt - Posted April 7 2018 - 12:09 PM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.

The problem is that people don't provide the care camponotus specifically. From my perspective at least, a begginer species is one that doesn't have varying needs from month to month, doesn't require expensive setups, and is relatively easy to care for. For example, nurbs has had quite a few colonies reach 100+ workers, Crystal has as well, along with Serafine. There are two things camponotus REALLY need: ~3 months hibernation for MOST areas, and heat (around 85 is preferred, I believe). If you really want to go the extra mile, add parts of trees such as bark and leaves to the setups of ants that nest in those trees.

Camponotus may be a bit more difficult than say, Tetramorium, but unlike some harder ants, they have a low mortality rate, have a consistent routine/ care doesn't change much, generally accepting of food, easy to contain, and aren't explosive in growth, a good species for someone who isn't looking for the most exotic/hard to care for species, but doesn't want something like Tetramorium or lasius, which can also be fun, but don't have some cool features that Camponotus have, like having three castes.

Long story short, camponotus is consistent care-wise, has alow mortality, is relatively accepting of food, and generally easy to care for. I'm sure that if more people stuck with their colony and cared consistently, didn't keep them too hot or cold, feeds and hydrates (obviously) them, and hibernates them (if needed) we would see a lot of mature colonies. I personally would consider them a good beginner species, if one is willing to stay committed to the colony for 2+ years. Then again, they are somewhat slow to grow, so they aren't everyone's ant, but for lots of antkeepers they can be a joy to keep :)

Edited by YsTheAnt, April 12 2018 - 6:38 AM.

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#6 Offline nurbs - Posted April 7 2018 - 12:31 PM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.

 

Yeah, the hibernation element presents challenges, but it's not impossible. A species like Camponotus fragilis is great for beginners because they do not require hibernation and are quite beautiful IMO.

 

Check out this Camponotus modoc in their second year after hibernation from one of my buyers. They are doing quite well. A lot of it is just the "roll of the dice". Some queens do well, some don't. So when you are out in the field, collect as many queens as you can.

 

oY8EYgfl.jpg


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#7 Offline YsTheAnt - Posted April 7 2018 - 12:48 PM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.


Yeah, the hibernation element presents challenges, but it's not impossible. A species like Camponotus fragilis is great for beginners because they do not require hibernation and are quite beautiful IMO.

Check out this Camponotus modoc in their second year after hibernation from one of my buyers. They are doing quite well. A lot of it is just the "roll of the dice". Some queens do well, some don't. So when you are out in the field, collect as many queens as you can.

oY8EYgfl.jpg
SECOND YEAR?? Nurbs enlighten me, I beg you. How do the ones people buy from you grow that fast?? Mine do well, just not nearly as fast growing as yours.

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#8 Offline 123LordOfAnts123 - Posted April 7 2018 - 1:25 PM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.


Yeah, the hibernation element presents challenges, but it's not impossible. A species like Camponotus fragilis is great for beginners because they do not require hibernation and are quite beautiful IMO.

Check out this Camponotus modoc in their second year after hibernation from one of my buyers. They are doing quite well. A lot of it is just the "roll of the dice". Some queens do well, some don't. So when you are out in the field, collect as many queens as you can.

oY8EYgfl.jpg
Hibernation doesn’t seem to be a requirement for Camponotus floridanus down here, as such I’ve had their already fast growing nests expand to as much as 1000 workers in a little over a year when heated constantly. I don’t doubt that some well fed colonies could produce alates in their second year, though perhaps there are affects to this. So species plays a roll...perhaps unsurprisingly for a genus as varied as Camponotus.

In the end, ants truly appear to be adapted best to the conditions they experience at the location of their capture, something many people may overlook. 2 months may be too short a rest for a wide-ranging Camponotus species caught in Canada even if it suffices in their most southernly range, which is a routine I’ve seen many keepers follow.

For an ant as commonly kept as Camponotus - which range across all the states and are relatively easy to find - you’d think colonies larger than a few hundred workers would be more common place; notwithstanding the high mortality rate of founding queens, or the inevitable loss of interest plaguing budding hobbyists.

Just my .02!

Edited by 123LordOfAnts123, April 7 2018 - 1:26 PM.

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#9 Offline Winston - Posted April 8 2018 - 8:17 AM

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Hello, my fellow ANT-thusiasts! (Sorry, I just had to)
I am a beginning ant keeper that owns a colony of Myrmecocystus Mexicanus (I did not realise how hard these ants are on beginners) that I am looking to give away for free as they are not doing so well. I live in southern california, and I was wondering if Myrmica Rubra would be a good beginner’s species. I am intrigued by the aggressive nature of Fire ants, and I am also looking for a species that can accept multiple queens.
What do you guys think?

(Edit: I also own a spare THA Phalanx formicarium, would Myrmica Rubra enjoy that setup?)

I'd just like to add as everyone else has been saying. Camponotus are a great beginner species, in the sense that they are easy to take care of. Because they are so large, their eggs and therefore colony takes longer to develop then smaller species. However if you're eager and excited to have a large bustling colony quickly, Camponotus might not be the choice than.



#10 Offline Ants4fun - Posted April 8 2018 - 9:29 AM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.


The same could be said for most northern colonies. I don't see too many people with large colonies of any species collected from queens up north, simply because if the patience required to raise a colony.

How many large Lasius neoniger or Formica fusca colonies have you seen? I have seen far more large captive Camponotus colonies than colonies of any other northern genus.

#11 Offline EthanNgo678 - Posted April 9 2018 - 5:42 AM

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I think I've seen lasius neoniger but I need to get a Id. 



#12 Offline CatLord - Posted April 17 2018 - 7:36 AM

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Hello, my fellow ANT-thusiasts! (Sorry, I just had to)
I am a beginning ant keeper that owns a colony of Myrmecocystus Mexicanus (I did not realise how hard these ants are on beginners) that I am looking to give away for free as they are not doing so well. I live in southern california, and I was wondering if Myrmica Rubra would be a good beginner’s species. I am intrigued by the aggressive nature of Fire ants, and I am also looking for a species that can accept multiple queens.
What do you guys think?

(Edit: I also own a spare THA Phalanx formicarium, would Myrmica Rubra enjoy that setup?)

My begginer species was a lasius niger colony that to this day is doing awesome i would recomend either messor barbarus or lasius niger but be careful with messor barbarus don't make some of the mistakes i have i put them into a dirt outerword thinking no problem its fine and next thing i know the queen has dissapeared for 2 weeks then i looked under the tank and i show her and the workers they had dug tunnels also lasius flavus is a good begginer species camponotus not so much for observation they take some time maybe

also heres a website to buy myrmica rubra and other ants i bought from this website they're the best:  https://www.antsrus.com  (from this day they have 3 myrmica rubra colonies available) they even sell leafcutter ants :o so i would reccomend that website for buying ants the link might say error 404 but press the click here button on the 404 error and it will take you to the website


Edited by CatLord, April 17 2018 - 7:38 AM.


#13 Offline YsTheAnt - Posted April 17 2018 - 8:37 AM

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It's illegal to ship ants between states in the United States, only within state is allowed. Don't try to ship them from Europe, not worth it.

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#14 Offline Jerky93 - Posted April 17 2018 - 10:35 AM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.


The same could be said for most northern colonies. I don't see too many people with large colonies of any species collected from queens up north, simply because if the patience required to raise a colony.

How many large Lasius neoniger or Formica fusca colonies have you seen? I have seen far more large captive Camponotus colonies than colonies of any other northern genus.

 

 

I will make it a personal mission to have a large Camponotus colony up here in Canada in the next few years :P


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#15 Offline Ants4fun - Posted April 17 2018 - 1:09 PM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.


The same could be said for most northern colonies. I don't see too many people with large colonies of any species collected from queens up north, simply because if the patience required to raise a colony.

How many large Lasius neoniger or Formica fusca colonies have you seen? I have seen far more large captive Camponotus colonies than colonies of any other northern genus.

 

 

I will make it a personal mission to have a large Camponotus colony up here in Canada in the next few years :P

 

More power to you! However, if I had a dime for every newbie that said something like that, I'd be a rich man. It seems like people's interest in the hobby, for the most part, doesn't last more than a couple years. That's why the vast majority of people who post on this and many other ant forums are fairly new.



#16 Offline Connectimyrmex - Posted April 17 2018 - 9:04 PM

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@ Jerky, Camponotus colonies are awesome!

I used to live in an area with only one Camponotus species, so I'm a bit of a Camponotus new myself. All of my successful colonies weren't truly founded. My captive-reared C. pennsylvanicus colony was raised by a friend. My healthiest and largest colony is a Camponotus chromaiodes colony that I collected with maybe thirty workers. There are now fifty workers, and those twenty or so appeared in a span of three months. If you collect wild colonies, try to collect smallish ones (forty workers tops), since the larger colonies tend to carry mites. A certain youtuber (hint: uses OMG, WOW, and clickbait a LOT) doesn't seem to pick up on this, and its no wonder that several of his wild caught colonies suddenly have booming populations of mites.


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#17 Offline Jerky93 - Posted April 18 2018 - 6:51 AM

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I see a lot of reccomendations for Camponotus as beginner ants, but you hardly ever see colonies far along in maturity. Most issues seem to arise during/after hibernation. The species that don’t require it (desert/subtropical/tropical) seem to fair much better in general, especially long term.


The same could be said for most northern colonies. I don't see too many people with large colonies of any species collected from queens up north, simply because if the patience required to raise a colony.

How many large Lasius neoniger or Formica fusca colonies have you seen? I have seen far more large captive Camponotus colonies than colonies of any other northern genus.

 

 

I will make it a personal mission to have a large Camponotus colony up here in Canada in the next few years :P

 

More power to you! However, if I had a dime for every newbie that said something like that, I'd be a rich man. It seems like people's interest in the hobby, for the most part, doesn't last more than a couple years. That's why the vast majority of people who post on this and many other ant forums are fairly new.

 

 

 

Ants4fun - If I manage to support a 100 + colony of them will you give me a dime? I can't speak on behalf of the other newbies here but I think my reasons for wanting to get into ant-keeping run a little deeper than "just something to do". I'm in it for the therapuetic benefits of having pets like this much like my aquarium. When I heard its a slow-going process to raise these ants, I was sold. Its going to be a long one, but a very rewarding experience for me.

 

 

@ Jerky, Camponotus colonies are awesome!

I used to live in an area with only one Camponotus species, so I'm a bit of a Camponotus new myself. All of my successful colonies weren't truly founded. My captive-reared C. pennsylvanicus colony was raised by a friend. My healthiest and largest colony is a Camponotus chromaiodes colony that I collected with maybe thirty workers. There are now fifty workers, and those twenty or so appeared in a span of three months. If you collect wild colonies, try to collect smallish ones (forty workers tops), since the larger colonies tend to carry mites. A certain youtuber (hint: uses OMG, WOW, and clickbait a LOT) doesn't seem to pick up on this, and its no wonder that several of his wild caught colonies suddenly have booming populations of mites.

 

 I am aiming to catch myown queens and going from there. If they do not work out or if I cannot find any, then I'll consider buying one or finding a colony. 

 Yea I've read some good guides on here that talk about mites alot. You're right thought that my fellow Torontonian does not talk about mite control too much and their clickbaity NATGEO-wannabe productions gloss over the issues like that :P


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#18 Offline StayLoki - Posted April 19 2018 - 10:06 AM

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@jerky93 "I'm in it for the therapuetic benefits of having pets like this much like my aquarium. When I heard its a slow-going process to raise these ants, I was sold. Its going to be a long one, but a very rewarding experience for me."

Exactly why I've just started keeping them, could not have said it better mate 👍
Random but I finally confessed to my mother my sudden interest at lunch the other day, and she remembered bringing me to the zoo once and I watched the leaf cutter exhibit longer than all the others LMAO
And she added "I suppose some people find it therapeutic.."


Newbie or not this forum is a great resource! I think everyone on here is very helpful and brings something to the table ;)
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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: honeypotfire ants, myrmica, myrmica rubra, begginer, beginner species, reccomendations, aggressive, polygynous, ants, help

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