Many people stuff ants in small containers without knowing their space requirements leading to the decreased lifespan of the colony.
How Much Space Do Ants Need? Ants need almost 1.5 to 2 times space of their body size to hide, walk, forage, bury dead fellows and keep eggs, larvae, or queens in separate chambers. The size of underground tunnels needs to be equal to three workers moving side by side, allowing broader channels for their movement. The requirement increases for bigger ones like queens as they cannot pass through holes of workers’ size.
It is essential to keep the size of the formicarium or jar according to their body size as they cannot live in a narrow space because they need multiple chambers to live.
How much average space do ants require to live?
Every insect species need space according to its body size, as longer insects occupy more surfaces than shorter ones. Therefore, each insect needs 1.5 to 2 times longer and wider area to survive.
The smallest species are ghost ants, around 1.3 to 1.5mm long, requiring a smaller surface area to live as they can easily adjust in channels of 2 to 3mm in length and width.
The pharaoh ants are also smaller but are a millimeter longer than the previous one and are 1.5 to 2 mm long, requiring at least 3 to 4 mm space to live.
However, the carpenter ants are medium-sized insects with a body length of almost 8 to 12mm, and the giant amazon ant is the longest, having a 15 to 30 mm body length.
The queens take more surface area due to their bigger body size and need 1.5 to 2 times more space than their body size. The average length of the queen is around 12mm or 0.5 inches.
Accordingly, you have to provide almost 18 to 24mm or 0.7 to 0.9 inches of space for survival, equal to 1.77 to 2.28cm.
However, the queens of Titanomyrma giganteum are almost 2 to 3 inches (51 to 76.2mm) long, requiring around 7.5 to 11.4 cm space to live.
So, the thicker walls can provide extra room for these insects to live in a spacious place, but the thinner walls can reduce the surface area.
Examples of ants with their body size and space they require
|Type of ants
|Space required in mm
|Space required in cm
|Space required in inches
|1.5 to 2 mm
|2.25 to 3 mm
|0.225 to 0.3 cm
|0.09 to 0.12 inches
|8 to 12 mm
|12 to 18 mm
|1.2 to 1.8 cm
|0.47 to 0.70 inches
|2.3 to 2.7 mm
|3.45 to 4 mm
|0.345 to 0.4 cm
|0.13 to 0.16 inches
|15 to 30 mm
|22.5 to 45 mm
|2.25 to 4.5 cm
|0.88 to 1.77 inches
|2.5 to 3 mm
|3.75 to 4.5 mm
|0.375 to 0.45 cm
|0.15 to 0.18 inches
|3 to 5 mm
|4.5 to 7.5 mm
|0.45 to 0.75 cm
|0.18 to 0.29 inches
|Garden black ants
|2.5 to 4.5 mm
|3.75 to 6.75 mm
|0.375 to 0.675 cm
|0.14 to 0.26 inches
|Red harvester ants
|6 to 12 mm
|9 to 18 mm
|0.9 to 1.8 cm
|0.35 to 0.70 inches
|Jack jumper ants
|7 to 10 mm
|10.5 to 15 mm
|1.05 to 1.5 cm
|0.41 to 0.59 inches
Why do ants need space to live?
Ants need spacious places to live as they cannot remain in a resting position for long. They usually keep crawling on the surface in search of food and moisture.
They prefer to live in a larger formicarium with a few hidden spots to remain out of sight. They live inside tunnels providing a suitable passage to their smaller bodies.
Moreover, they can easily get inside through entry points and are made of the size suitable for queens and males, as they are bigger and need more surface area to get inside the soil.
In addition, they need a few extra inches of area in the formicarium to bury the dead members. These insects do not keep dead fellows close to the brood or queen, as there is a risk of infection.
They have separate chambers in the nest for dead insects and newly born larvae.
It is not ideal for keeping the sick, deceased, and living members together to avoid the spread of germs and diseases.
The eggs are kept in a growth chamber where nursing ants feed them to become adults. The food particles are placed in a separate chamber, so they need a lot of space to behave naturally.
What should be the depth of tunnels for ants to survive?
It can be astonishing to see ants entering the ground through tiny holes in the pavement and garden soil. You probably wonder about their management under the ground.
They build a whole setup under the soil by digging deep through it. They move in three directions and displace soil to create intricate channels.
Additionally, these underground channels look narrower and more compact, but they are wide enough for their tiny bodies to manage their movement through them.
Almost 2 to 3 workers can pass side by side from these channels or tunnels smoothly without touching each other and interrupting the walking movement of others.
Moreover, they have to face some problems when they all carry heavy particles on their back and move close to each other.
These insects keep the channels wider to avoid traffic jams when all the foragers carry the particles back to their nests.
So, you have to keep the width and depth of tunnels to size so that every type can fit inside it. You can keep them higher to 1 and 1/2 inches, providing sufficient surface area for easier crawling.
Do queen ants need more space?
The space requirement by ants depends on their body size, as larger insects require more surface area to move easily. The bigger ones can get stuck in the narrow routes due to small areas.
Queen ants are almost 2 times bigger than the workers.
However, males can manage their way through routes designed for queens because they are a few inches smaller in size than the queen.
You can put more than one worker in the space, which is ideal for only one queen or male due to the smaller size facilitating easier movement and better survival.
Knowing the size of your colony before buying a formicarium with tunnels inside is better to avoid inconvenience when you have to replace it.
Measure the length and height of the insects to get a container with the right size of tunnels in which they feel happy, comfortable, and secure.
How many ants can live inside a test tube?
The length of the test tube is around 20 mm on average, which is commonly used by sellers while delivering the queens or workers to the destination spot.
In addition, the size of an average worker is almost 2 to 6 mm long, while the queens are 10 to 12mm long. Therefore, their requirement for space is nearly 1.5 to 2 times their body size.
It means you can adjust almost 5 to 6 workers inside a test tube if they are 2mm long, while only 2 to 3 of them can live in the same area if their body size is approximately 5mm.
Additionally, only one queen can fit inside the small space of the test tube if its size is 10mm because it takes almost 15 to 20mm surface area alone due to bigger bodies.
One or two workers can adjust with a queen of pharaoh ant colony because its size is almost 4mm or 0.15 inches, which means it takes only 6 to 8mm of space.
So, around 2 to 3 workers of 1.5 to 2mm body size can easily get accommodated with her in a single test tube.