queen ant

 

Your new ant habitat is all set up and ready for a thriving colony, but you still haven’t added the crown jewel: the queen. How do you grow the colony without a queen ant?

Before buying the queen, consider these important facts as an ant lover.

Shipping queen ants over state lines is prohibited by the USDA, since non-native self-sustaining colonies may due damage to the local ecosystem. Most farmers with queen ants for sale in the USA can get in touch with ant enthusiasts in their home state or help them get in touch with an ant farmer where they live.

Thankfully, it is often possible to find a queen ant on your home turf, if you’re willing to do some digging – literally!

 

How to find a queen ant:

 

What you'll need:

 

          * A five-gallon bucket
         * A cover for the bucket
         * 2 shovels or posthole diggers
         * Metal spoons
         * Cleaning gloves
         * Jar or with 1-2" diameter rim dabbed with oil
         * The desire to get your hands dirty

 

It’s dirty work indeed, but if you’re up for it, head out to a nearby field where you’re not going to get into too much trouble for digging. Sunny days will make it easier to spot a nice healthy colony, since the workers will be more active.

Next, pop on those gloves and cut a circle around the opening of the ant colony about 6'' deep. Lift the whole section of the soil from the ground and put it into the bucket. You can collect workers with spoons and drop them into the jar. The oil around the rim will help prevent them escaping while you’re adding new members for your colony.

With the top of the colony removed, you can get a look at the various chambers and tunnels, some of which will be for the storage of eggs and one of which will house the queen. Use a spoon to explore gently.

 

How to identify a queen ant?

 

* Obviously, the first thing you’ll notice is the size. A queen ant is always bigger than the other worker ants.
The queens of many species have wings, needed to explore new territory to start colonies.
To lay all those eggs, queens have huge abdomens, the butt section.

 

If you find her, carefully remove her to the jar with a few other “starter” workers.