Many people prefer to start an ant colony without adding a queen into the medium, as these are expensive and take time to raise a population.
How to Start an Ant Colony Without a Queen? You can start an ant colony without a queen by collecting a group of worker ants and shifting them into a man-made habitat that mimics their natural nest. Moreover, add water and food source inside and maintain internal temperature. Keep a check on their activities and internal conditions of the formicarium.
It is a quick and cost-effective way of building a farm when you are not interested in keeping it for many years.
Worker ants do not lose their function without a queen and keep foraging in the habitat to get energy and survive.
However, they will lose the purpose of their life, as their main task is to feed a queen and larvae and participate in nest activities.
How do you start an ant colony without a queen?
It is possible to start an ant farm without a queen as a significant part of the colony comprises workers and larvae, while one or two queens are usually present in each nest.
Prepare ants habitat
You have to prepare a suitable habitat for ants before collecting the inhabitants. It needs to be designed according to their nests, and they like living in loose soil and forming tunnels.
Some people keep them inside a test tube when only 5 or 10 workers have a shorter lifespan. There is no such requirement to build a farm for a small number of insects with a shorter lifespan.
However, you have to prepare a jar or a medium with CD casings for more than 20 workers with a longer lifespan. You can also get a commercially prepared gel medium with in-built lights.
You have to add loose soil in the base of the setup and spray water to make it slightly damp, as they prefer to live in humid conditions.
Adding vegetation or scented flowers can make a jar similar to its natural habitat.
Collect worker ants
Choose species of worker ants that are suitable to grow in an artificial habitat as pets. You can order desired species from reliable and authentic sources, as black markets also sell ants.
Moreover, you can also collect worker colonies in the backyard to grow as pets. Look for these nuisance pests in the garden by digging a few inches deep in the soil.
Take a shovel and wear gloves or long boats while interfering with their colonies because they can sting on exposed body areas.
Collect heavily infested soil in the container, sift it through sieves to separate them, and put them inside a test tube.
It is a quick and cost-effective method to collect workers, but you have to identify the species yourself. You can use food particles to attract different types of ants to your ant farm.
Shift ants in the container
It is quite an interesting step to shift the collected worker’s colony inside the container without making them run away. However, these tiny creatures try to escape when you open the tube.
So, you have to shift them quickly by turning the tube upside down inside the jar or a setup created by compact disks.
It is better to close all the narrow holes because these insects will quickly move out of the artificial habitat when they find an exit route.
Add food and water source
You have to place a source of food and water to ensure the survival of the worker’s colony. It is the basic need of these insects to live because their body processes need energy and moisture.
They can die due to a deficiency of energy and nutrients if you keep them alone inside a formicarium.
It is better to feed honey by dipping a cotton ball inside the honey and keeping it in the corner of the container.
In addition, you can put a piece of sweet and juicy fruit in a small tray and a bowl of water.
You have to replace the rotting fruit with fresh ones and wash the water bowl frequently to avoid infection.
Keep a check on internal conditions
A colony of worker ants cannot survive when there are severe disturbances in internal conditions like temperature, humidity, and oxygen level.
They need warm temperatures to keep themselves active, as they can freeze to death at extremely low temperatures.
Similarly, they need humid conditions and oxygen to keep their bodies hydrated and breathing. So you have to lose all of these insects if you do not look after the container after shifting them inside.
Why would you start an ant colony without a queen?
Some people prefer to start an ant farm without adding a queen, as it is a quick method to build a setup. However, it is challenging to find a queen because it lives inside a nest and comes out during mating.
You need a newly mated queen to start a colony for the long term; that’s why it is better to build a setup for workers only that seems feasible.
Moreover, you do not have to wait for many days as it takes time for egg laying and hatching.
In the same way, it takes almost 10 to 15 days to become an adult, so you can start a colony quickly by adding adult workers to it.
Furthermore, it is usually suitable for those with short-term interests in ant-keeping. You have to handle the farm for a few weeks to a year on average, as workers have a shorter lifespan.
How long do ant colonies survive without a queen?
You can not deny the importance of a queen ant for a colony because it is the only egg-producing member of the nest.
The colony’s survival depends on the queen, but it does not mean you cannot start farming without her. It will be a short-term experience, but you can collect workers to build their farms.
Every species of these insects has a different lifespan, and workers of a pharaoh, pavement, fire, and bullet ant colonies can live for almost 3 to 10 months on average.
However, carpenter ants can live for 7 to 12 months, but little black ants can survive for almost 12 to 18 months.
Furthermore, you can collect sugar and harvester ant workers if you want to keep a colony for around 4 to 7 years, as they have a longer lifespan than others.
What is the best starter ant colony?
It is a little bit challenging for new or inexperienced ant-keepers to decide their exact specie or type for starting a colony.
You have to choose workers carefully that can easily adapt to a new environment. Crazy ants, or Paratrechina longicornis, have a lifespan of 70 to 80 days and are easier to handle.
Moreover, they can easily adapt to changes in the environment and are resistant to fluctuating weather and humidity.
Furthermore, the black garden ant or Lasius niger is also known for better resistance to harsh weather, and they can survive in dry conditions for a long time.
However, many people prefer to keep black carpenters and red harvester ants in their farms, as their sharp body color makes them visible inside the artificial habitat.