For the ant species Lasius Niger [1][2] the following things are necessary to take care for them:

Living Conditions

  • The Nest should be separated from the other environment (the arena)
  • The Material can be plastic, stone/plaster or sand, but there should be a humidity gradient. The overall humidity should be around 50-60%. Roomtemperature is sufficient
  • (some people use red foil for the nest to simulate darkness, because most insects can not see red color. Lasius Niger are pretty blind anyways)
  • They hold a winter rest from October to March, where they do not go out of the nest (In an artificial environment they can be kept in the fridge or basement)

Examples of Nests:

  • Two glass or acrylic plates sandwiching a Sand/clay mixture [3] (Advantage: They dig there own ways)
  • 3D printed Nest [4] (Advantage: Easily designed, cheap printing cost, you can see the ants better.)
  • Ytong nest, which is a stone that also acts kind of like a sponge [5] (Advantage: Cheap, holds water on it's own)
  • Plaster Nest, pretty much the same as Ytong, but you can form it in any shape you want.[6]


Food

In Nature Lasius Niger milk Aphids (plant lice) for there sugary excrements. The ants actually put them on the most promising plants and defend them from predators. You can actually keep Aphids in the arena with some plants, but instead you can just feed the ants some sugarwater or honeywater. Every now and then Ants need some proteins in form of other insects or meat. They happily accept Drosophila (fruit flies).


What needs to be bought/found/acquired in the course of making this?

  • The Queen (as I stated I have some Lasius Niger, but other species might be more interesting)
  • Workers (Queens usually lay eggs and hatch them)
  • A Nest. Either DIY or prebuilt.
  • An Arena (translucent glass or plastic container) - good for tracking


Is there anything likely to go wrong?

  • The ants do not reproduce fast enough
  • The queen ant dies and the remaining ants will die at some point, too
  • Mold

What can we do about this in case of unexpected difficulties?


How can I tell this part is finished? When they live.

How long will this take? (Workdays/Weeks) As long as the colonies are small they can stay in the test tubes. The Nests can be offered to them, but Lasius Niger are very loyal to their nest, so it could take a while before they move. The actual production of the Nest should not take longer than one day, if the necessary material is there.