Ant Room Tour | Argentine Ants

Ant Room Tour | Argentine Ants

Hi guys. In this video, we’re looking at another
huge ant colony of mine. Housed in one of our mega sized acrylic nests. They are the notorious, highly invasive, Linepithema
humile, commonly known, as Argentine Ants. Originally, these ants were raised up within
a single test tube setup. Over time, I gradually added in more ants,
which I collected from the wild. If you’ve seen my documentary on these guys,
you’ll know that argentine ants are rather unusual, in that, they’ll gladly merge together
with foreign colonies of their same species. I collected the ants by simply lifting up
rocks and logs, within areas where I’d seen them around. Argentine Ants usually create relatively shallow
nests, so, I’d flip a rock and the colony would be right by the surface, and I’d just
scoop them up. Collecting as many workers, brood, and queens
as I could. Then, I’d introduce them to my colony back
home, which I eventually upgraded to one of our old prototype acrylic nests. Normally, I wouldn’t condone collecting ants
like this. As many ants are important for seed dispersal,
cycling and enriching soil, decomposition, and more. And so, removing established colonies from
the wild like this, especially the rarer species, can negatively impact the surrounding environment. Catching queens during nuptial flights is
a far more sustainable practice. And I believe, catching these young newly
fertilized queens, makes for a far more rewarding experience too. You see the colony slowly progress from just
a single queen, tending to her first batch of eggs, then, see their first generation
of workers arrive, and years later, you’ll have a thriving colony, thousands of ants
strong. Plus, when collecting up a mature colony,
the queen is possibly already several years old, so she, and therefore the colony, likely
won’t last nearly as long as a young queen would. And of course, it’s a huge shock to ants’
system, being taken from their homes, where they’ve been happily living and thriving
in for so long. To then be placed within an unfamiliar captive
environment, the stress from the move may be too much for them to handle, and possibly
result in illness or death. However, I’m quite comfortable doing this
with Argentine Ants, as they are an invasive species here in Australia. Very good at displacing native animals, especially
other ant species. So, the less of them out in the wild, the
better opportunity native plant and animal species have to flourish. Just to clarify, this does, in no way mean,
that I condone the practice of keeping exotic ant species, that is, species which don’t
exist in your area. Like say, keeping Bull Ants over in Europe,
or Wood Ants here in Australia. Or, newly established invasive species, like
the incredibly infamous, Fire Ants, who’ve just recently been introduced to parts of
Australia. Argentine Ants, on the other hand, are already
well established where I live, here in Melbourne, and sadly, are likely here to stay for good. So there’s a big difference in that respect. Of course, you will need to take extra care
that they don’t escape, otherwise it could potentially make the situation even worse. So, I recommend only experienced ant keepers
take on locally, established, invasive species like these guys. I decided to house mine in, extra secure,
acrylic nests. Quite small ones at first. But, almost a year later, after progressively
adding in more and more of these little fiends, it quickly became apparent, I was going to
need to dramatically upgrade their setup. So, our team got to work on designing something
a little more suited to their needs… So, this is what we came up with. We call it our mega-sized acrylic nest. And rightly so. It’s almost a meter long and half a meter
wide. And as you can see, it’s almost completely
filled up with ants. Remember when I told you my Big-headed ant
colony, housed in one of my terrariums, had 3 egg laying queens within their colony? And was exploding in population because of
it? Well, I’d estimate this colony has at least
100 queens! All those slightly larger ants you see, they’re
all queens. And for every queen present, I’d estimate
there’d be around 200 workers tending them. So, if we do the maths, that puts the colony’s
population count at around 20,000! And with 100 potential egg laying queens around,
it won’t be that long before, even this mega nest will be outgrown. I’ve noticed the queens like to spread themselves
apart throughout the nest. With usually no more than 3 or so queens within
each chamber. I suspect, this could be a survival strategy. If the colony were to encounter danger, such
as a harmful mold breakout, or an attack from a predator, with them being separated, it
increases their odds in having at least a few of their queens survive, and thus, allow
them to continue the colony’s lifespan. Not having all your eggs in one basket, as
the saying goes. Quite a clever adaptation. I’ve also noticed that, not all of the queens
receive equal care from the workers. Some are tended to by hundreds, others, only
dozens. And every now and then, I even notice the
workers culling queens. This one here, had been aggressively bitten
to death. It seems odd. Why would the colony kill one of their own
queens? Wouldn’t this just be dooming their colony. Well, it takes a lot of energy to tend to
a queen. The workers are constantly grooming them,
feeding them, keeping watch over them, at the ready to defend and maneuver them away
from potential threats, and they must collect any eggs they lay, and carefully reposition
them to a location optimal for their development. So perhaps these queens weren’t performing
as well as the collective colony would have liked, and essentially, were no longer deemed
worthy of all that care. And so, the ants made the decision to axe
them. Thus, allowing more of their worker’s time
and energy, to be spent with a worthier queen. One who’s more efficient and reliable in
producing eggs. Therefore, benefiting the colony in the long
run. Plus, the culled queens’ bodies don’t
go to waste, either. They use them to nourish their developing
young. Ensuring the wellbeing of the colonies future
generations. You’ll see, the ants love to hang their
eggs up in little clusters up on the ceiling of the nest. They seem to only do this with their eggs. The rest of their brood, the larvae and pupae,
are normally placed on the floor. I’m not exactly sure why they do this. Ants, in general, tend to position eggs within
the most humid parts of their nests. So, I think they may be placing theirs up
here, as this is where all the condensation collects. And so, suits their needs better than the
floor would. Which is kind of cool in a way, because, it
gives me an interesting reverse angle of the ants that I wouldn’t normally be able to
see. You also might of noticed, throughout the
nest, we’ve laser cut all these holes along the top panel. These tiny holes provide the ants with a little
bit of ventilation. I’ve noticed they seem to prefer inhabiting
the chambers around them, it’s where the queens and brood mostly reside. Ventilation is definitely an important factor
to consider when constructing a nest. It’s clear that these ants are quite fond
of the fresh air which these little holes offer them. What I’ve found most fascinates me about
this colony, is the way these ants navigate. Here, we have the central hub, a crossroad
of tunnels, leading to their favoured nesting grounds, and their foraging area. The constant flow of activity is almost mesmerizing. It’s like an ant highway. It makes you truly appreciate just how determined
and productive ants can be. In terms of diet, I’ve been feeding these
ants raw, unprocessed honey. Which, like most ants, they can’t seem to
get enough of. I’ve also been testing out some of this
specialised protein jelly. For most of my other colonies, I put in just
a little scoop, but for these guys, I just place the whole tub in. They absolutely love this stuff, and go through
most of it within just a few hours. In most cases, I prefer feeding my colonies,
whole raw foods, a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds and insects. But aside from the occasional insect or two,
this colony has been running solely on honey and jelly. Not all ants would be happy with this simple,
repetitive diet. But I’ve found, these Argentine Ants, aren’t
at all fussed. And seem to be developing quite healthily. Just another of the many adaptations which
makes argentine ants such successful invaders. It’s great for me as their keeper too, as
it minimizes the amount of garbage accumulating in and around their nest. There aren’t any seed shells, or insect
exoskeletons to worry about cleaning up. But of course, the ants still create garbage. In the form of their dead. Situated in their foraging area, is a neat
pile comprised of all the ants which have died from old age. The ants’ cemetery. Every now and then, I’ll come in with a
bit of folded paper and scoop it out. Just to keep things nice and clean. The ants also have designated bathroom areas,
because, well, not all their food gets converted into energy, there’s always excess. So, whenever the ants need to go, they make
their way over to one of these nominated chambers, and relieve themselves, communally. These chambers are usually positioned well
away from the central ones, where all the brood and queens reside. And I’ve noticed, when the ants are within
close proximity of them, they’ll frequently stop and take a moment to clean themselves. Which they do by licking their forelegs and
then scraping them over their bodies, like combs. For ants, sanitation is vitally important. I’ve also noticed, quite surprisingly, these
super tiny bugs living amongst the waste. Even with my lens on the highest magnification
setting, they’re still just a spec on the screen. I’d say they’d be close to half a mm in
length. But from what little I’m able to see, it’s
clear that the ants are interacting with these tiny things. They regularly pick them up, carefully run
them over their mouthparts, and then, place them back down again, seemingly unharmed. So plainly, the ants aren’t interested in
killing and eating them. So, what are they doing with them then? Perhaps, it’s a similar relationship the
many ants have with sap sucking invertebrates, like aphids and leafhoppers. Where ants are provided with the excess sugars
which these bugs excrete, known as honeydew, while the sap sucking bugs receive protection
from the ants from would be predators, like ladybugs. So, in this case, maybe the ants tend to these
bugs, in order to consume some kind of honeydew…or perhaps they recognize their beneficial value,
in the way that they consume and break down their waste. Improving the sanitary standards throughout
their nest. I’m not too sure. What do you guys think? And what do you think these tiny things are? I’m guessing, some sort of mite. Really interested to hear your thoughts. Through regular experimenting, I’ve learned
that Argentine Ants prefer a relatively humid nesting environment. To hydrate the nest, I simply inject some
water into these circular sponges here, which soak up it right up. The nest is designed almost identically to
our regular sized models, just on a much large scale. Each are comprised of 5 separate layers of
acrylic, stacked and screwed tightly together. Between each slide, there’s a tiny amount
of space, too small for the ants to pass through, but large enough for water to. So once the sponge is soaked full of water,
through capillary action, the water seeps through the tiny gaps between each slide,
and reaches the ants of the other side. Providing them with both a drinking source,
and a slow and steady release of humidity. You’ll notice this mega nest has 6 hydration
points. I like to alternate between each sponge. So, a few days after hydrating, say these
two here, I’ll hydrate the opposite two. Doing this limits the chance of mold and fungi
developing, as the humidity conditions don’t remain stable enough for them to survive. For the ants, it’s no problem. They just simply move themselves over, an
undertaking which, Argentine Ants, are extremely quick and efficient at. I also have a test tube setup, placed within
their foraging area. The water reservoir is blocked off with cotton,
allowing the ants to drink the water as it slowly seeps through. So at all times, the ants have access to fresh
water. Which is vitally important for the success
of any ant colony. Their foraging area is quite a decent size,
but because it’s positioned directly within the middle of the nest, it’s almost always
crowded with ants. It’s easily the quickest route from one
side of the nest to the other, and the ants, in their constant quest of efficiency, quickly
picked up on this fact. You may have noticed little bits of cotton
within certain parts of the setup. The ants have actually been burrowing through
the cotton within the test tube, and have slowly began pulling out little strands. They’ve laid a bunch by the entrance of
the tube here. It looks as though they’ve created a little
carpet for themselves. They’ve also been piling the cotton up by
the entrances to their nesting area. The right side, here in particular. I’m not exactly certain why they’re doing
this. The lid on their foraging area has thousands
of tiny holes, offering the ants with a good amount of ventilation, possibly a little too
much at times, so they may be using the cotton to carefully limit the amount of air flow
coming in and out, in order to regulate the temperature and humidity conditions within
their nest. Or perhaps it’s for security reasons, they
feel much safer having their nest entrances smaller and less exposed. Or perhaps, a mix of both. Through studying this massive colony, in a
large-scale nest, where all their activities are in plain sight, I’ve learned quite a
lot about these little guys. Like, how they prefer to scatter their brood
and queens, rather than clustering them together, and how they often cull of the weaker queens…How
they dispose of their garbage…allocate certain chambers as bathroom areas…And how they
potentially recruit other bugs to improve the colonies sanitation…and so much more. This is what makes keeping and studying ants
so fascinating. There’s just so much new to learn and discover. It’s one of those cases where, the more
you know, the more you know you don’t know. So what do you guys think of this mega colony? Pretty awesome, right? So far, I’ve taken it into a couple of schools. The student’s reaction to this thing, and
their curiosity of ants in general, has been really great to see. It’s still just a prototype for now, but
I don’t know, would you guys want to see something of this scale up on our store? I’m thinking there wouldn’t be many of
you who would have colonies big enough to warrant one. But, I could be wrong. It seems, for many ant keepers that I’ve
heard from, their ultimate goal is to have a massive colony like this one. But, you’ve got to remember, the larger
a colony, the more responsibility. They’ll need to be fed and hydrated more
often, and more time needs to be spent cleaning their foraging areas. Plus, ants have a tendency of exponential
growth, so once they’re big to begin with, this often means they’ll quickly outgrow
their setups, especially small, fast developing species, with multiple queens, like these
guys. And if a massive colony of this size were
to somehow escape your setup, then it could be a true disaster. Personally, I prefer caring for relatively
small colonies and slowly watching them progress to maturity. Then, once they reach this sort of scale,
it’s time to say goodbye, and release them back into the wild. Like I did in the past with my rainbow ant
colony. But, of course, because Argentine Ants are
an invasive species, this simply isn’t an option for me. So, this may be the last you guys see of this
colony. After I’ve felt I’ve studied them enough,
I’ll likely be putting them down. I plan on placing them in a freezer overnight. The most humane way of going about the process. It’s a hard thing to do, but will need to
be done. The threat of them somehow escaping, just
isn’t worth the risk anymore. Onto a more lighter note, now, it’s time
for our regular contest, where we’ll be giving away two of our size 2 acrylic nests! Last video I asked you guys, what your favourite
ant species was. Another tough one…For me, it’s got to
be Bull Ants. Their sheer size, excellent vision, and their
rather quirky characteristics, just makes them stand out from all the rest. And, if I had to pick one particular species,
it’d probably be Myrmecia nigriscapa. Such a huge and stunning looking ant. Whenever I come across these guys, they’re
always up to something interesting. Whether it be, on the prowl for prey, building
up their nests with debris to act as insulation, or blocking up rival ants’ nest with their
own garbage. And they’re always very curious as to what
I’m up to too. As soon as they catch sight of me, they immediately
stop whatever it is they were doing and become fixated on my movements. Sometimes, I have to sit still for a good
few minutes before they lose interest, and then continue on about their business. Plus, I’ve grown quite attached to the queen
I’ve recently begun raising too, seen in my Bull Ant video here. She’s quite a quirky one. And check this out. Now, her larvae have just begun spinning their
cocoons! So, in another month or two, her first workers
will finally arrive. I’ll be sure to update you guys once they
do. Alright, now back to the contest. First up, it’s our Instagram winner. Congratulations to…Abraham! Who captured a shot of a Weaver Ant queen,
Oecophylla smaragdina. Easily one of my favourites too. These ants live up in the trees, and form
their nests by stretching, and then stitching their leaves together using their developing
larvae’s silk as the thread. Here in Australia, we call them “Green Tree
Ants” after their beautiful, vibrant green colouration. Such incredibly unique looking ants. Now to the winner here on YouTube. Congratulations to…ChasenWild. Who answered, “Camponotus consobrinus”,
commonly known as the Banded Sugar Ant, after the yellowish-orange strip running across
its abdomen. A very common species here in Australia, but
fascinating to observe, nonetheless. Especially when they perform their tandem
runs. For the next video’s contest, I want to
know, “What’s the most abundant ant species in your area?” To enter, leave a comment below, outlining
the name of the ant, where you’re from, and if you can, a little on what you’ve
learnt about them too. And, same as last time, I want you guys to
go outside and take some pictures of these ants too. Then post them up on Instagram, and make sure
to tag or include the hashtag “antsaustralia”, so we can find it. We’ll pick one out a single picture over
on Instagram, and a single comment here on YouTube and the winners will each receive
one of our size 2 acrylic nests, with the choice of either, green, red and now, due
to popular demand, we’re also making them in blue. We’ll announce the winner in the next video. Where I’m going to be doing another, long
awaited, DIY formicarium tutorial, so stay tuned for that. As always, thanks for watching this video
and I hope you enjoyed.

100 thoughts on “Ant Room Tour | Argentine Ants”

  1. Can you make another video on the Anochentus trap jaw ants? I am thinking of getting a colony of them and I need tips! Nice video!

  2. You need to design one just like that with a 100gallon rimless openworld set up at the top that has a desk/stand sort of like a fishtank for the people like us with giant argentine or weaver ant colony. Where half the flat nest at the bottom is filled with soil so they have to expand on their own! It will give people chances to do large bio active set ups. I have a great design in mind if youd like to collaborate!!. $$$$

  3. i really like this setup, but while watching your video, I had the idea that you could have many of these layered with a rod through one corner of each and tubes connecting each of them to one another, allowing you to swing each layer out one at a time or fan them out for display.
    i'm very much enjoying your channel and want to start my own ant farm from just a queen one day soon.

  4. I think Croatia is safe for now.. I've noticed only one Solenopsis invicta queen and no real colonies in the wild. But I hope to keep Argentine ants.

  5. Try to just scoop some dirt into the ant farm, just maybe 1 or 2 scoops, and see how they use the building material

  6. I HATE Argentines and Solenopsis. They always kill everything. I just stick with native species and much cooler ants

  7. Please make that available to buy. But maybe make them in circle shapes as well as rectangles. I have harvester ants and they can get huge and live to be 40 years of age.

  8. Well if they don't like a queen they kill it

    Edit:are you going to kill your mega colony you work hard for them

  9. If you live in a country with only a few species I don’t see many issues with keeping exotic species, if you raise them well and from a small size. Baring in mind that you should get them from a trusted source. I like in the UK and we have very limited species so I decided to get some European harvester ants. I have had them a year and they really have prospered. So I do condone the practise if done responsibly

  10. Larvae: What are we eating today?
    Worker: oh nothing… just your mother who couldn’t suffice our needs…

    No but really this is a sad survival strategy😭

  11. Years after the fact, yes, that would be helpful. (I keep Solenopsis in the US, so yeah large pre made nests like that are very helpful) I also advise against releasing any ant native or not, back into the wild, they may have picked up diseases that they can handle but wild ones cannot…

  12. How do you get so much footage of the nests without disturbing the ants with the light? I thought Ants will move thier nests when its exposed to light. Very curious because im in the founding stage with my queen and i usually only check her and her workers a couple times a week and only for a couple minutes. when your nest is older is it easier to watch the nests longer without disturbing them? Am i making sense haha

  13. It would be nice if you could find a way to kill very large numbers of them so they would stop… or be less able to eradicate native species. Here in the southwest US they drive out or kill off a lot of harvesters ants which is the primary food source for the horned lizard. They are more than just irritating sink raders.

  14. I think the tiny bugs are for sanitation. You said they rubbed the bugs carefully over their mouths and so maybe they use them as toothbrushes? Given ants are omnivores the bugs probably eat the small remains on the mouths which is good for the ants as they won’t ingest the rotting pieces then

  15. But Argentine ants are an invasive species to anywhere but South America. Why all the tears about collecting them?

  16. I have a colony of these fuckers outside under my patio, always In my house, I gather dead insects from my pool and feed them every few days or so, they even killed a rapidly spreading colony of fire ants in our front yard. My mom always kills them when they're in the kitchen it makes me sad…
    Anyone watching antscanada here too

  17. Regarding the culled Queen ant, is that red mite harmless or a bloodsucker? AntsCanada had a big outbreak of those in his yellow crazy ant terrarium.

  18. I’m from ohio and one of the most common ant species here would be the Carpenter ant 🐜. Carpenter ants live in forest 🌳 in Ohio. These Carpenter ants burrow in wood and and they like to live in tree bark. They prefer to live in dead 💀 or chewed up bark. Carpenter ants like to eat other insects,sweets,honeydew,sugars, and some plants 🌱. From watching your videos and doing lots of research I’ve learned that ants are really fun to keep and they love to eat honey. I am now going to start my own colony soon thanks to your videos. Keep up the good work 👍.

  19. Lol id grow a colony to billions strong and maybe quadrillions strong feeding them the biggest things to dead elephants to other things! Then i bring them up till they eventually evolve to become like the zerg and ruling the galaxy! Ill make sure to hide somewhere far away xD

  20. just started ankeeping and i just caught my first queen and its an argentine ant and i saw your vids and its really great tips

  21. Yeah there mites which is weird bc other ants are know to eat them but it's not un heard of to see ants coexisting with that so the mites can clean there place

  22. im from argentina,and every day it seems like these guys are everywhere,i find them in my sugar pots,my shoes ,my bed and even in my clothes.

  23. I was wondering why their poo was… pulsating and fluctuating….. I'm glad you explained about the mites. The colony most likely understands the importance of their waste removal.

  24. Hello Jordan, nice Linepithema humile colony you got there!

    I wonder where you got them from, I am searching for almost a year and I have found literally no one selling those and poorly over here in Germany they cannot be found.


  25. is it just me or did those queens that were culled, have any mites . Might just be my eye s but it looks like each one had a bright red spot.

  26. yo wtf, we have those ants in argentina, and the medium size black ants and the meat eater with big heads too.
    those are the 3 species that i have found when i was young in the south part of Buenos Aires.
    nice channel, keep it up!

  27. Really appreciate your exposition about collecting ants native and invasive. Important to keep the native ecology!

  28. Stop whining about ant collecting. Theses ants are not from north America. Or Australia. They are destructive in large numbers.

  29. Eyyy jordan, epic video again, the segregation of various ant queens could be due to small diff in genetics. Closely-related queens tend to live together to help propagate their own genetics. Im sure you might already know this but just in case. (This is also observed in bee colonies where workers who share both parents tend to form sub-grps in one colony-thus having each grp providing extra care to specific grps of brood)
    P.S: pls correct me if the phenomena is a completely diff one

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