How to Extract a Queen Ant

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Perhaps you are starting an ant farm and would like to capture a live queen ant from her colony and settle her in your new ant farm. Queen ants live deep inside ant dwellings where they lay eggs. They are guarded by two flying male ants. Most species of ant queens have or had wings, so their bodies have a different shape than the rest of the ants in their colonies. This article will help you identify and capture a queen ant.

Things You'll Need

  • Ant colony
  • Burlap
  • Lighter
  • Jar

Capturing the Queen

  • Locate an ant colony. It is best if you can find one that is shallow in the earth. A good place to look is under rocks. Follow ant trails to an entrance of the ant colony.

  • Light an end of the burlap on fire so that it is smoking. Insert smoking end into a hole of the ant colony. This will "smoke out" the ants. They will think their colony is on fire and evacuate the colony. You will see ants carrying eggs, which means the queen's chamber is being emptied.

  • Look for the queen where you see the eggs being taken out. Because most queens have or had wings, their bodies will have a pronounced thorax, or middle body section. This is because they need more muscle to support wings. Sometimes the queen is bigger than other ants in the colony, but the best way to tell is to look for an ant with a highly developed thorax, bigger than the other ants.

  • Capture the queen in your jar.

  • Take the queen to your ant farm and introduce her to the other ants. Your new queen won't be active. Mostly she'll sit in one place. She will feed off her own body fat for some time until workers start bringing her food. If she lays eggs, she'll stay with the eggs. If you feel she needs nutrients, you can supply her with sugar water, which she may drink. Make sure the sugar water doesn't mold.

Tips & Warnings

  • Depending on what kind of ants you are dealing with, you may want to wear protective clothing while smoking out the ant queen.
  • When turning over rocks and logs in your search for an ant colony, be careful and move slowly in case there are other creatures dwelling in these places.

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