Ant Keeping: Basic Things You Should Know

Ant-keeping is slowly getting picked up as a hobby by more and more people in Singapore. And if you want to try it for yourself, here are some very basic things to know.

Educate yourself first

Ant-keeping, more than a hobby, can be considered a science. In Singapore, there are about 139 species/subspecies of ants. Having some knowledge on the common and rare ones will definitely help you in your ant-keeping journey. Different species also have distinct features, habits, individual needs, and living conditions, and knowing these will help you make the appropriate actions for your ant farm.

Things you need

  • Test tube setup: the first habitat for the queen, where she lays eggs and grows the first workers.
  • Formicarium: basically the whole ant farm.
  • Outworld: a separate area where ants forage for food and dispose their waste.

The queen

The queen is probably the most important element in starting a colony. You can buy one or catch one yourself. Queens are also noticeably bigger than worker ants. You’ll know if it’s a fertile queen if it’s a big one that doesn’t have wings.

Mistakes to avoid:

Catching only one or too many queens.

For some, hunting and catching queens is one of the best parts about starting a colony. But, you should not let your excitement get the best of you and go on a hunting spree. Having 2-3 queen ants should be enough.  Why not just catch one and get it over with, you ask? This is because there are chances that the one you catch might be unfertilized, so having one or two extra will not hurt.


To be able to lay eggs peacefully, it’s an absolute must to leave her alone in a dark and quiet environment. Many beginners make the mistake of checking on the queen again and again, looking and shaking the test tube. Doing this puts the queen under stress and cause her to stop laying eggs altogether.

Putting two species together

 Ant species will always fight for their territory and their queen. So if you introduce a different species to a formicarium, the two will fight for the territory and kill each other. Although, there are times that some species may live harmoniously with each other, it’s still better not to risk it.

Little moisture

For larvae to develop properly, a good amount of moisture is required. This is why there’s water in the test tube setup. Also, your colony still needs water no matter how many much they’ve grown in population. Therefore, you have to have small “wet” areas in your formicarium to provide moisture.

The case of non-native ants

This is another very important thing to know. Ants that are foreign to your area can be very dangerous to the ecosystem if you release them or if they escape. They can push out native species and even introduce mites and pathogens that the ecosystem will not be able to handle.

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