Please advise a species to keep at school

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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon kirillovp » 23. Jan 2008 07:55

Hi, I'm a biology teacher at a small school and I've been dreaming of trying to set up a formicarium as a "project" with my students. Can you advise me a species that would be easy to keep (I have no experience) but interesting for kids? It looks like L.niger is a good option but they are quite small - are there any bigger ones but just as easy?
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon tail__ » 23. Jan 2008 08:42

Formica fusca would be a good choice. The workers are 4-7mm long, compared to 3-5mm of L. niger.
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon SteveUK28 » 23. Jan 2008 12:02

I would recommend L.Niger if you have no experience, They may not be all that big but are wonderfull ants to watch, they will also grow fast so you'll have a nice big colony quite soon. Best of luck whateva you decide.
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon miszt » 23. Jan 2008 12:29

Lasius Niger are definitly the easier option, having said that, as you have probly more resources than the average starter, then pherhaps a tropical Camponotus species would be good, they dont need a huge amount of special care, only a good setup, with heating and humidity checks

Pherhaps it could be a good project for the pupils, to design the formicarium based on research of where they live, what they eat, and how they build there nest?

Certainlly dont jump in feet first! Do plenty of research, ask questions :) we'll be happy to help!

As it goes, i'm writing a short book on careing for the easier types of exotic ant, you may be interested in, depending on when you are planning on getting the colony...its got some nice pics, aswell as point-by-point plans for designing a formicarium for a specific species, based on research by the reader (ie it doesnt just tell you what to do, it gets you to investigate it, and work it out for yourself, but with plenty of hints)

Also something important to think about, what will happen to them during the holidays?

2 days in a hot tank without water will kill your colony! more than a few weeks without protien and sugar will stunt and damage your colony....but its not recomended that you move your nest around to much, so you need to come up with a design that will cause as little stress to the ants during movemnets as possible

Also, you need an ant species that can put up with a bit of stress from being looked at and noise....many Camponotus are good for this, some however are not

Also if you get a European species, you will have to hibernate them, this is very important, and takes about 4-6 weeks of droping the temp, then 3-5months hibernation, then 4-6 weeks raising the temp again

just some thoughts

excellent project tho :-)
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon kirillovp » 23. Jan 2008 13:45

thanks a lot for all these ideas/thoughts. There is a lot to plan and foresee!
miszt, I'd be very interested in your book! When is it published?

Looks like we'd possibly need a tropical species that doesn't need hybernation.

I count on training security guards provide basic care during the holidays.

Are there any not-terribly-expensive climate-controlled formicaria for ants? Like maybe some sort of a thermostat with a humidity sensor? Trying to asseble one could be part of my project.
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon miszt » 23. Jan 2008 14:19

They are easy enough to build, book will be published at the end of Feb, gives lots of info on that ;)
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon JimmyVe » 23. Jan 2008 17:52

Hello kirillovp and welcome.

If you are looking for a exotic species i would recommend a Camponotus species. It would help if you had some experience. ;)

Like miszt said, read a bit here at the forum, plenty of good information. If you still have questions, just ask. ;)




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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon kirillovp » 24. Jan 2008 12:06

Maybe we'll try to get both Lasius and Camponotus. Though, sound like a tropical Componotus is a better option (faster growth, no hybernation). Will be waiting for one available in the store!
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon SteveUK28 » 24. Jan 2008 12:09

If your going with a Camponotus id recommend Substitutus which has beautiful markings and is fairly easy to keep. If you do keep Lasius Niger it could be really good for you to create satalite nests around the classroom all linked together :)
Anyways let us know what you decide and if you need any more advise, and best wishes.
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon kirillovp » 24. Jan 2008 13:29

Many connected nests was the plan! :grin:
We were even thinking of making nests in different rooms and connecting thim with pipes.
Would it work faster with a few queens or different "clans" would fight?
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon ant dude » 24. Jan 2008 13:55

Many connected nests was the plan!
We were even thinking of making nests in different rooms and connecting thim with pipes.
Would it work faster with a few queens or different "clans" would fight?



lasuis niger would probaly be your best bet then, if u wish to do this sorta thing i mean :grin:

lasuis niger are percificaly monogyn, meaning they can/will only accept 1 queen per colony :)

yes different colonies(''clans'') of lasuis niger would fight eachother 99% of the time as they are quite aggresive ant species....

hope this has heped u a bit at least :grin:
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon miszt » 24. Jan 2008 14:54

kirillovp hat geschrieben:Many connected nests was the plan! :grin:
We were even thinking of making nests in different rooms and connecting thim with pipes.
Would it work faster with a few queens or different "clans" would fight?


yes they will fight, Lasius Niger are very aggresive.

There are many species which are polygyn tho, where this would work quite well, however I suspect you havent realized the time scale for this size of nest lol

Your looking at least 3-5 years to have a colony big enough to strech accross to rooms.

Solenopsis may be a good choice, these however are Fire Ants, and must be handled with Caution, they are also a serious invasion risk, so unless you trust your students 100%...then dont get them lol

Formica may be a better option, they are fairly fast growing, and like to make big nests with many satilites, they are however hibernators


Best bet, start small :) if you have the resources, then one of the most interesting ants are Acro leaf cutters (NOT Atta, they have HUGE nests and massive financial burden due to their huge food consumption)

an Acro colony is not insanly hard to maintain if it is already established, there are people you can get an Acro colony of 100-200 workers, that would more than likly do very well.....the setup costs are higher of course, probly €200 for a good setup that will last many years, I recomend a water island setup for these, as it maintains good humidity and tempreture...but of course the water will need cleaning, so that may result in the occasional bite from a careless or inexperienced person, its not very painful tho :)
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon JimmyVe » 24. Jan 2008 16:05

For getting some experience it would be nice to keep Lasius niger first. They grow fast and adjust easy. But they hibernate about 4-6 months a year.
Camponotus substitutus are not that hard to keep but they are exotic so they need heating and a good humidity (not that difficult because they like it rather dry ;) ). They also grow very fast and do not hibernate.




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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon arthurnottheking » 3. Feb 2020 07:26

I think veromessor or liometopum could be quite interesting to observe in the classroom. My father is an entomologist and a school teacher, he tried both species. I can ask him for some tips or guidelines what you need for a quick start.
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Re: Please advise a species to keep at school

Beitragvon arthurnottheking » 3. Feb 2020 07:26

arthurnottheking hat geschrieben:Hyperlinks sind nur für registrierte Nutzer sichtbar Hyperlinks sind nur für registrierte Nutzer sichtbar Hyperlinks sind nur für registrierte Nutzer sichtbar
I think veromessor or liometopum could be quite interesting to observe in the classroom. My father is an entomologist and a school teacher, he tried both species. I can ask him for some tips or guidelines what you need for a quick start.



I wouldn't recommend Camponotus though, because they are rather sensitive and their colonies grow slowly. You also need to make sure you keep vibrations to the minimum in the classroom.
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