Thursday, October 27, 2016

Boyce Avenue - Family

Ant Farm Diaries

Okay, before you start to say anything, please note that I HAD a few small ant farms maybe around 2 years ago. Let's just say I hid them under my bed coz there's a strict "no pets" rule at home and more so if it involves insects, but my parents found out... lol *does neck cutting motion*. RIP... I don't even know how they died :(

Annnyyywaysssss... here's my experience from way back when (This post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for AGES!)

I've started my own ant farm using fertilized queen ants (the garden variety black ants, which I don't dislike as much as small and stinky red ants that bite. These black ants don't bite.) that I've collected from my lab back in Bertam - though only 3 queen ants and their off-springs survived. 

- Lesson learned: Queen ants do take in larvae from other queen ants of the same species.
Originally, there were 4 though... I'm still not sure why the fourth died, but I transferred the larvae and eggs to another queen ant with a hope that she will take them in as her own. Let's just say she did :)

- Tip learned: Cleaning the ant farm tube/ Transferring ants from tube to tube
Oh,. one advice for transferring ants from a tube home to another - I'd advise you to chill them in the fridge (NOT the freezer, mind you!!) for awhile, so that they'll get all drowsy. I've tried putting them in for 5 to 10 mins and I can then gently shake them out into a new tube, so I can clean out the old one. 

And well, I've tried feeding them several stuff and so far, these are the stuff they like and the stuff that they don't

- Tip learned: Food for black garden-variety ants
1. Fruits (the sweeter, the better) - can last at most 3 days (but vary depending on the type of fruit), then you'll have to throw what's left of it because, obviously, they get all rotten.
2. Very tiny flying insects
3. Very tiny worms
4. Strawberry jam, processed (but then they will leave behind "something", probably the "processed part" that you'll have to throw away)
5. Small strips of meat (moist, not dry) - chicken meat, pork, etc
6. Sugar (Fine, preferably) - They are crazy over these stuff... obviously

1. Small moths (even though it was chopped up and dewinged - after it was dead ofc... I'm no monster!)
2. Bread chunks soaked in water (bad advice given by an user at an ant farm forum)

- Tip learned: Designing your own ant farm container
They like the dark, so be sure to keep your transparent container wrapped in something non-transparent. Thin sheets of paper don't work as well, but aluminum foils work perfectly.

Remember to have breathing holes for air to circulate. It's best to use cotton or thick gauze to stuff the entrance. I've also tried using something like a thick and elastic "plastic cling wrap" and poked tiny holes in them -but that turned out to not be a very good idea since some ants do try to bite through these wraps. Naturally, I'd recommend against poking holes on paper or any other thin stuff since the ants will even more easily tear through the stuff and escape.

If your container is wide (in an ant's perspective), then you'll need to insert something to fill up the middle before you put soil in. This is to make the tunnels that the ants dig more visible against the sides of the container. I personally used a discarded poster (thick) to do this, but you can also use the a used toilet roll (the cardboard part).

So, if you're using a poster, I roll it up tight and compact - glossy side inwards due to the taping part, and seal it with strong tape. You'll need to seal the hollow part with strong tape as well. Poster paper can withstand semi-moist soil that your ants will need to dig in and the best thing is - there isn't any moss growing inside my ant farm. 

For soil, it's always best to get some "local soil" - meaning the soil that you think the ants came from. Those are usually foolproof, but if you can't or don't want to, well, you shouldn't get something that is too dry. Semi moist is best. And also, be sure to shake or tap your container against the ground as you pack in the soil so the soil will be more compact. Be sure to leave plenty of room at the top so that the ants can carry the soil they've dug to the surface and they have some room to walk around as well. 

~ ~ ~ ~

I couldn't continue this diary as my dad threw away my Ant Farms after I went for a trip to KL last year and I was devastated. I got over it though, but I'll always remember the feeling of having something to look after. Keeping a pet... no matter what type of pet it is... is HARD work! But I'm glad of the experience and I'm surprise to know ants do consume chicken meat and pork. 

Anyway, when I last saw them, 2 of the colonies became very huge, so much that it's actually hard for me to feed them without them trying to crawl up my tweezers (I use tweezers to place very small "bowls" of food and water in). I actually had to wait for an opportune time before I can feed them lol. 

And well, there were lots of escapees when I try feeding them (makeshift ant farm containers aren't the best way to keep these ants contained, but I did my best) - some of which I've managed to return to their homes (some of which I can find crawling up my leg after 3 days since it escaped lol - don't worry, they don't bite) while others, I can't find them so I suppose they deserve their freedom... but ants can't survive long without their colony. 

Pics soon! I'll just have to recover them from my old and now semi-broken smartphone. - Update: the phone's completely broken and I'm not sure if I could even recover the pics.