How to Catch the Ant Queen

Finding an ant queen is the first step to building your own ant farm. Queen ants can be difficult to catch. However, if you know what you’re looking for and how you’ll be able to catch the queen ant with a little time and patience.

1. Waiting for the Ant Queen to Start a New Colony

1. Contact an ant expert to find out the best time.

The queen ant in an existing colony will start a new colony several times a year. A local entomologist (person who studies insects) or even a pest control company will know the best time of year to find the queen ant to start building a new colony.

1. Day length, temperature and rainfall in your area are some of the variables to consider when it comes to when the queen ant will establish a new colony. For dry areas such as the southwest, queen ants usually establish new colonies in the spring, while summer can be an ideal time in other areas.

2. Find an area that has several active ant colonies.

Find an area that has several active ant colonies

The more ant colonies you check during the right time, the more likely you are to find the queen ant during your search. Queen ants usually try to establish a colony in an area that already has other ant colonies, so look for spots in areas with several ant colonies that are close to each other.

3. Find the ant queen.

ant queen

The queen ant and the male ants that mate with her do not immediately leave the developed colony. During the right time, you can see several queen ants walking near the entry point of the parent colony. During this period, the queen ant tests the air to determine the right time to establish a new colony.

1. Since you’re trying to find a queen ant, you’ll need to know how to tell the queen ant apart from the rest of the colony. In this stage, the queen ant has wings. However, even after the stage when the queen sheds its wings, you can identify it by its larger body size than other ants. This is most prominent especially in the thorax, which is the middle part between the head and abdomen of the ant.

2. If you just want a queen ant, this is the ideal time to catch one. However, if you want the ant queen to start your own ant colony, don’t capture the ant queen now. This winged ant queen has not yet mate in the colony development stage.

4. Wait until you see the queen ant walking erratically.

After mating, the queen ant will look for a new colony location. Unlike most ants who walk in an orderly fashion, the queen ant will circle around to find cracks and crevices, changing directions and usually looks like a lost tourist in a big city. This irregular behavior means that the ant is looking for an ideal point to start a new colony.

1. Another sign that the queen ant has mated is when the ant has shed its wings. After selecting an area in general, the queen ant will let go of her wings to avoid attracting too much attention. However, the ant will keep walking around to find the perfect location in the selected area.

5. Treat the new queen ant with care.

Once the ant releases its wings, it will be easier for you to catch it. However, be sure to treat it gently. If you want to move the queen ant to create your own ant farm, you can use film sleeves. Make sure the ants get plenty of water by placing a damp cotton cloth in the sleeve.

1. If you want to build an ant farm, you’ll also need to take some soil from the area where you captured the queen to get the ants to start nesting once you’ve removed them.

2. Digging to Find the Ant Queen

1. Use a shovel to cut a trench around the ant colony.

This method requires more effort, but takes less time. Start by using a shovel to cut a 15 to 20 cm radius trench around the entrance to the ant house.

2. Use a large shovel to dig up the colony.

Once you’ve finished making the trench, shovel the area inside the trench, which consists of mostly ant colonies.

3. Shovel the soil into an 18.5-liter bucket.

You’ll need to dig a little deeper to get to the entire colony, so use two 18.5 liter buckets and a shovel of soil into it.

1. Try to keep the clod as firm as possible so it won’t break every tunnel as you dig through the colony.
2. You also need to make sure that you cover each bucket to prevent the queen ant from escaping from the bucket.
3. If you use this method on a new colony when the queen ant has just mated and is still digging the nest, you won’t have to dig too deep, and you won’t have to sift through too much soil to find it. A clue to a fledgling colony is a very small inlet with fresh manure beside it that has not yet formed into soil.

4. Follow rooms and tunnels if possible.

These spots can be difficult to identify when working quickly, but you will need to follow the chambers and tunnels in the ground as you dig up the colony. Continue collecting samples until you see only a few ants remaining in the hole.

5. Sort out the soil in a bucket.

After collecting the ant colony, you have to manually sort the soil to find the queen ant. Use a spoon to separate the soil from the ants.

1. You should transfer the ants to a smaller container after you have separated them from the soil.
2. For that reason, don’t do this indoors.

6. Find the ant queen.

This process demands precision, but you must find the queen while screening the colony. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, keep in mind that the queen ant is the largest ant in the colony, and her midsection — the thorax — will stand out.

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