Everything you need to know about ants colony

Everything you need to know about ants colony

Keeping an ant colony can be incredibly entertaining, educational, and rewarding. Below is compiled the information you will need to know in order to give the proper care for an ant colony so you can enjoy them for as long as possible!

 There are 12,000 different species of ants across the world, but several are popular beginner species. Before you gather all of your supplies for ant keeping it is important to pick which species will be the best fit for you. Make sure to only house one species in an individual habitat as you will have a full-blown war if you attempt to keep two colonies together.

 You can collect a colony from your local area, collect a mated queen and let her build a colony, or purchase a queen online. Check your local laws as importing foreign ants into your area may be illegal due to environmental threats. There is a Global Ant Nursery Project™ which will connect you with local ant growers who sell queens that are grown in your area!



 Most species of ants are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and animal protein. Though there are some species that eat primarily vegetarian or carnivorous diets, most ants will eat just about anything. Food sources could look like crumbles of oatmeal or cut-up mealworms. Ants need foods that provide both protein and sugars. Do not feed your ants insects from outside as you do not know if they have been exposed to pesticides. Crickets or mealworms are great options for ants as a protein source, along with commercial ant foods. Your ant’s nutritional needs will highly depend on the species, as a harvester ant colony will need a lot more vegetation vs a fire ant colony that feeds heavily on insects in the wild. Feeding can be a fun way for you to interact with your pets. It is truly fascinating to watch your colony tear apart your offering and carry it back into the nest.


 Please do not provide just a water bowl as it is a drowning hazard for your pet ants! Instead, you can provide gel meant for feeder insects, spray down the habitat to keep the substrate moist or use a test tube filld with water stopped with a cotton ball. The cotton ball will stay damp and they will drink from it.


 While there are many popular gel-based ant habitats on the market but there is a lot of controversy around them. Many professional ant keepers suggest not using them at all as there is a high chance of mold, which will kill your ants. Others suggest that if you are only keeping ants for a limited time that it is an acceptable option. A quick Google search will set you up with many options for ant farms, but we suggest using a soil-based habitat. You can find cheaper habitats with sand, but they are usually small and you’re not able to expand them with your colony's growth. These are perfect options for a classroom or “at home science experiment” where you plan on releasing the colony afterward. If you are wanting to keep your colony for a long period of time, so you can enjoy their many life cycles and generations, we suggest a kit from Ants Canada. They are expandable and have everything you could need for your colony.


There is also the option of creating a terrarium for your ant colonies from glass tanks but you want to make sure that you seal the entire thing so you do not get any escapees. You can grease the top of the tank with vaseline to keep your ant friends from crawling up the glass. Terrariums are an amazing option if you want to create a beautiful display for your ants. You can add live plants, branches, water features, and decorative backgrounds that are themed around books or movies! There are many examples on Youtube to help spark your creativity.


 All insects are cold-blooded and many body functions depend on the temperatures of their environment. Placing a heating pad under one side of the nest so that the ants can thermoregulate, meaning they move back and forth to warm up or cool down, is a great way to keep your colony at proper temperatures. Warming up your colony to 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit will cause your ants to increase activity including the queen and laying eggs. A popular way to keep colonies warm is to heat an entire room, which is very handy when you keep multiple colonies. Ants need to go through a hibernation cycle and you can do this by lowering the temperature of the room that your habitat is in, taking the habitat and placing it in the fridge or place your habitat in a cool basement/attic throughout your winter months. Do not place your habitat outside as they will freeze to death. Your ants will not require food during hibernation but you will need to provide them with a water source. Ants that are native to temperate regions should be hibernated for at least a month as it gives the queen a break from the draining process of egg-laying and failing to do so will shorten her life. Plus hibernation gives you a break from the constant task of care. There are not many pets in the industry that give you a pause from care and still survive!

 Keeping an ant colony can be incredibly rewarding. Watching your queen build her empire while you nurture the colony with engaging foods, proper temperatures and a beautiful environment can continue for up to fifteen years! An ant colony can be a wonderful learning tool for children, teaching them about the ecology of their outdoor surroundings. Parents often want to teach children about the cycles of life and an ant colony is a fantastic way to do so! Whether you choose to have a small temporary setup or a large naturalistic terrarium; you will not regret bringing this nature-made TV into your home.