I often get questions about raising ants. How do you keep a colony disease-free and growing in an artificial nest?
One of the most common ways to keep ants is in a glass test tube nest. The advantages are that glass tubes are easy to clean, supply the proper moisture, convenient to transport and can grow in number as the colony grows.
1. Obtain a glass or plastic test tube. The size depends on what kind of ants you are keeping. You can find test tubes at most scientific supply stores.
2. Fill roughly 1/3 way with water. Use clean, good quality water.
3. Roll up a sterile ball of cotton and shove down to the top of the water surface. The idea is to keep the water from flowing out, but create a humid chamber for the ants by creating a tight plug of cotton. Push the cotton down with a clean probe or skewer. See that the moisture does not come past the top of the cotton plug. If it does, pull out the plug and try again with fresh cotton.
You can set the test tube in a plastic bin rimmed with fluon, a milky teflon-like substance that keeps ants from crawling away (see below). Or you can start out by plugging the tube with cotton to keep the ants inside.
Once the number of workers increases, you can add more test tubes.
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