Ant FAQs

When things are small the laws of physics appear to act very strange (such as round water droplets instead of small puddles). It is the ants size that enables them to lift such relatively heavy weights. If we were ant sized, we too could lift weights much heavier than ourselves, where as if an ant was our size it probably could not lift its own weight off the ground.. MadSci

Ant life-span is species dependant. Worker ants can live from anything between a few weeks to up to 2 years. Queens, and their colonies, are known to live anywhere between 1 and 30 years.

Winged ants are called 'alates'. These are reproductive ants. They have wings so that they can meet their partner and mate during the nuptial flight.

Queen ants are normally larger than worker ants. Their mid section (thorax) is a lot larger compared to the rest of the ant family. It is a good idea to have a look through some photos on this site so you get an idea of which ant is which.

Every ants goal in life is to ensure that its own colony lives as long and prosperous as possible; so that its genes are passed on to future generations. To make sure this happen they must fight off any competition that takes their supplies and space. Even within the same species, ants of different colonies will fight. Each colony has its own chemical smell so that all ants can determine who is a friend and who is a foe. There are a few exceptions to this, some species and colonies can coexist. The Argentine ant has colonies that have merged into the largest colonies ever recorded.

Winged alate male ants or drones only live for a few months during the mating season, or nuptial flight. This means that most the ants you see throughout the rest of the year are female.

Ants don't talk as such like we do as humans, but they do communicate, and they are very good at it. They usechemicals, vibrations and touch to communicate with individuals and or their entire colony. See communication for more info.

If you have ever observed ants, when they are not eating, running or digging, they are cleaning themselves. They use their front legs to wipe dirt off their bodies, ant they use their mouth parts to clean their legs and antenna using saliva. Ants also clean each other in those hard to reach places.

Carebara atoma are believed to be one of the worlds smallest ant species. Minor workers  are around one millimeter long. It has been said that dozens of colonies of the worlds smallest ant could live comfortably inside the brain case of the world's largest ant, Camponontus gigas whose head can reach seven millimeters wide. see pages 143-155Adventures among Ants

The heaviest ant in the world belongs to the driver ant, Dorylus sp. The male ant can grows to lengths of thirty millimeters, it is also known as a 'sausage fly' due to its sausage like shape.   The largest ant goes to carpenter ant, Camponontus gigas, found in Borneo, its queens can reach one and a quarter inch or just over thirty millimeters. It has been discovered that some extinct species of ant had queens reaching two inches in length.

Ants are normally listed by their scientific names, this is simply a combination of their 'genus' and 'species' names. For example the scientific name of a carpenter ant is 'Camponotus pennsylvanicus'. In this case, Camponotus is the genus (all carpenter ants are in this genus) and pennsylvanicus is the species. When a scientific name has 'sp.' after the genus, ie. Camponotus sp. This means all ant species under the genus Camponotus. Sometimes the authors name, who originally described this species, is placed after the ant name, ie. 'DeGeer'.

Like all living things, ants are classified and grouped into a hierarchal system that shows how organisms are related. Ants are found in the Kingdom 'Animalia, the Phylum 'Arthropoda', the Class 'Hexapoda', the Order 'Hymenoptera' (which also includes bees, wasps, and sawflies). They are then broken down into 11 'Subfamilies', c.300 'Genera' and finally c.12,500 species. Simple.

Ants are drawn into our home as they search for foods left out by us. It seems that ants and humans both like similar foods. There is so much competition for new queens to find a nest after their nuptial flight, that they even come to check out our homes. You may have damp areas within your home, these areas are likely places where ants may choose to nest.

Read our 'natural repellants', it provides tips on removing unwanted ants as safely and environmentally friendly as possible.

There is no easy way to tell if an ant can sting until it has stung you! By studying ants you will soon be able to identify which species are which and whether or not they can sting. The ants found under the species section, have been given a 'risk rating' this takes into account their ability to bite and sting. No ant stings are deadly to humans, and most ant stings are not that painful, but beware that there are a few out there that have a real punch! see 'Ant Bites and Stings' for more info.

antARK does not sell ants to anyone in any country. antARK does provide external links to reliable companies that sell ant habitats.

In Europe some of the easiest and most common ants that are kept as pets are: black garden ants, yellow meadow antsand red stinging ants. In America some of the easiest and most common ants that are kept as pets are: black wood ants (Formica fusca), fire ants, red stinging ants, pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) and carpenter ants (Camponontus pennsylvanicus). All the species above are compatiable with our L1 ant care sheets. It is always best to keep ant species that are local to your area. Its worth finding out which common species are in your area if you are planning on going out to catch them. The best way to do this is to use our regional ant locator, browse to your country and search for common ant species. If this fails you can use the search bar at the top right of the screen i.e. searching 'common ant species England'. is a great resource for printing identification images of ants when you are out in the field

Many people found on the ant forums share techniques and images of their home made ant habitats. Videos and online guides can be found under the 'build your own ant habitat' links section. Please let us know if you find any more guides.

Workers can live without a queen, they sometimes have the ability to lay a special egg that will eventually grow into a flying male ant 'drone'. This unique process enables the colonies genes to be passed on when all have died.

In most cases, queens will loose their wings soon after they have been impregnated during the nuptial flight. However, this is not always the case. Some queens may not loose their wings till the first workers 'nantics' are born, and some may loose their wings and never lay any eggs. The best way to tell is to wait for the nantics to appear.Note: If a drone is the first adult ant to develop from the eggs, then the queen is unfertilized and not pregnant.

The sale of queen ants is prohibited in the USA. The reason for this is because if a queen escapes into the wild where it does not naturally occur, her colony could potentially damage local ecosystems leading to all sorts of undesired effects (see invasive species). Although the sale of queen ants is allowed in Europe there has been talk as to how long this will last.

Generally it is advised to keep only one queen per habitat. However it is possible to keep more than one queen if you have a large setup, i.e with two nesting areas sharing a large (30cm+) foraging area. Also a few species are polygyn, meaning that colonies can accommodate more than one queen. This trait can be found in fire ants and red stinging ants.

antARK is working on a guide to catching your own ants, please be patient thanks.

If you look after your colony well, the chances are that you may have an explosion of workers. If their habitat starts to look cramped you can always add more or larger areas via tubes. If for some crazy reason you decide that you have too many ants, you could give some workers to a friend to look after.

Most ants should start to dig into sand and soil after one day. Only certain species are able to dig into gel habitats, seeAnt Works for more info. Making small holes with a toothpick in the sand/soil/gel surface helps start digging. Making sure that the sand/soil is moist also encourages digging, dry sand/soil is hard for ants to dig. If there is still no digging after a few days, try placing a few drops of sugar water onto the sand soil surface.

The speed of the egg to adult ant life cycle is heavily dependant on their surrounding temperature, but also your habitats humidity and the quality of food available (freshly crushed insects are best). The fastest brood development will take place during the heat of the summer. Brood development can grind to a halt over cold winter periods. Worker ants will move the brood to areas within your habitat that has optimum temperature and humidity. This means that it is good to have both moist and dry areas available so that the ants can choose where to go.