3D Printed Ant Farm

Hello, anons, Wauf tourist here.
I want to 3D print an ant farm - I plan to use PLA, I think it's an alright material to use.
There are many models already available online, but I was wondering if there are any tips / pointers you may have?

I plan to just make a basic nest, covered with a layer of acrylic / plexiglass.
Going to have an outworld from a repurposed 3 gallon aquarium, maybe a very large jar, not sure yet.
I've got a spare glass water jar with a spigot, might remove the spigot and put a tube there instead, leading to the nest.

What kind of ant should I get?
Of course, I'll do all my research once I'm done building the farm (perhaps though, best to do it before, as I need to know what kind of ant I'm building a farm FOR.)

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  1. 1 year ago
    Anonymous

    OP here, anons.
    I've decided to do it - it just rained, and I think I found a few FOUNDING NESTS!
    I'm gonna finish printing the formicarium, and I'll pop down to the local hardware store for some tubing.

    I will dig up the queen, and I guess place her in the formicarium?
    Give her a cotton ball of water, and some sugar water / protein?
    Might even have workers, who knows.
    It'll be great.

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      Anon, you're supposed to find a young queen after her nuptial flight, not dig one up from a nest somewhere.
      Check out Ants Canada's video on how to catch a queen.

  2. 1 year ago
    Anonymous

    Oh frick yeah ant thread

    I fricking love ants so much its unreal. I have an autistic fascination with them. Today anon, I will share with you my sperg knowledge, like a mother bird feeding its chicks.

    For a fast-growing, hungry fricking colony, I would go for pavement ants (tetrimorium) or fire ants (solonopsis if you're a burger, or myrmica rubra if you're a eurogay or anywhere with snow). Just keep in mind that both will try to escape by chewing through plastic, but as long as the seal is airtight and a few mm thick you should be good. Both can sting and eat dead insects, but solenopsis will take live insects like roaches no problem.

    Carpenters (camponotus) are also cool as shit, I used to have two colonies before I moved and released them into the woods. They take like three years to get going, but once they do, you can expect to see some dope ass polymorphic dudes. You got massive chad supermajors that dwarf the manlet minors, who just carry shit, brad majors that cut shit up and defend the nest, and stacy minims to look after the brood.
    When you order/find a queen, put her in a test tube setup like picrel and deadass forget about her for a month or two. Once she's laid eggs, give her a drop of honey/syrup. After the eggs hatch, plug the test tube into the setup. Try and make a port onto the nest to take the test tube if its possible.

    Ants need carbs, protein, and water to survive. Give them water through test tubes half-filled with water. They can get carbs through either cereal grains, or if you're lazy sugar water set ups. Don't use only sugar water setups, as they'll fricking die of dehydration. For protein, use dead insects. Mealworms, crickets, flies and even worms work great. Don't feed live insects until the colony is big and thriving.

    Raising a queen you find outside is cool, but deadass just order one online if you don't feel like touching grass.

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      Campos can't sting, but they can spray formic acid from their asses, which don't affect us but probably really fricking hurt pillbugs or whatever you're feeding them. Don't feed huge shit like roaches live unless they're fire ants (solenopsis and rubra). In fact, if you have a massive colony with millions of ants, you could feed them a live mouse and they'd be able to take it down. Fire ants are fricking metal.

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      >if you don't feel like touching grass
      I've been stalking this one nest of Camponotus for years now, I just can't seem to get the nuptial flight time right and miss it by some days. I don't want to just keep Lasius niger.

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      hey anon. I think you're the one to ask a question to. I saw a tree get felled many years ago that was absolutely infested with some sort of carpenter ant hive. The hive was several years old and was huge, when the tree was felled the ground was literally black with ants. But in the swarm I ended up seeing ants that didn't look like anything I've ever seen before. The closest thing I could describe them as were ticks, it was either (i figured, or tried to figure out) that they were massive ants, or that they had abdomens so large that their main body wasn't visible. They were extremely bulbous. To describe the size of these, easily the round part was the size of a fingernail, or 1.5-1.75cm in diameter. There were quite a few of these, but they were clearly rarer than the other types of ants. I didn't believe they were supermajors as there were ones that clearly looked solider-ish while these looked alien. Do you know what I might have seen there?

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      Same homie. Hoping to catch some Tetramorium this year now that my campos have took off

  3. 1 year ago
    Anonymous

    Carpenter ants might be good. They’re pretty big but still easy to keep. Keep in mind that generally you’d buy a queen or a queen with a few workers, they would need to grow the colony a fair bit before being moved into a full sized nest like that

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      For sure, I'm actually shockingly fortunate enough that within a 30 minute driving range, there's apparently a store that specialized in ant-keeping.
      It's a very funny coincidence, given that the only other stores within 30 minutes' range are Walmart, a grocery store, and some small clothing shops (living innawoods innacountry.)

      They sell live ants, queens in particular, with 1-2 workers.
      I was thinking of getting one of their packages - would I need to give them wood then, to build their nest up?

      • 1 year ago
        Anonymous

        Carpenter ants don't need wood to survive- they just nest in rotten wood. You can put them in a regular setup no problem.

        I mean if you want you could drill a hole in a rotten piece of wood, put the queen inside, and then drop it into the gallon tank. That'd be pretty sick.

        • 1 year ago
          Anonymous

          That would be pretty fun, would they eventually move out of the piece of wood into the nest, or will they hang out in that instead?
          Either way, it'd be fun to see.

          Ants like a warmth gradient- give them warm areas, and room-temperature areas. Don't make it too warm, you don't want to cook the frickers to death.

          Give them sand in the outworld, and they'll deadass line the nest with it to maintain a humidity gradient. It's insane.

          Oh frick yeah ant thread

          I fricking love ants so much its unreal. I have an autistic fascination with them. Today anon, I will share with you my sperg knowledge, like a mother bird feeding its chicks.

          For a fast-growing, hungry fricking colony, I would go for pavement ants (tetrimorium) or fire ants (solonopsis if you're a burger, or myrmica rubra if you're a eurogay or anywhere with snow). Just keep in mind that both will try to escape by chewing through plastic, but as long as the seal is airtight and a few mm thick you should be good. Both can sting and eat dead insects, but solenopsis will take live insects like roaches no problem.

          Carpenters (camponotus) are also cool as shit, I used to have two colonies before I moved and released them into the woods. They take like three years to get going, but once they do, you can expect to see some dope ass polymorphic dudes. You got massive chad supermajors that dwarf the manlet minors, who just carry shit, brad majors that cut shit up and defend the nest, and stacy minims to look after the brood.
          When you order/find a queen, put her in a test tube setup like picrel and deadass forget about her for a month or two. Once she's laid eggs, give her a drop of honey/syrup. After the eggs hatch, plug the test tube into the setup. Try and make a port onto the nest to take the test tube if its possible.

          Ants need carbs, protein, and water to survive. Give them water through test tubes half-filled with water. They can get carbs through either cereal grains, or if you're lazy sugar water set ups. Don't use only sugar water setups, as they'll fricking die of dehydration. For protein, use dead insects. Mealworms, crickets, flies and even worms work great. Don't feed live insects until the colony is big and thriving.

          Raising a queen you find outside is cool, but deadass just order one online if you don't feel like touching grass.

          Salutations, dear anon - please, by all means, spoonfeed me - I want to know all that I can before I get some.
          You see, I actually want a set of ants that are a bit more mellow, and a slower-growing colony, since I would want to expand rather slowly - I'd want to experiment with various nest designs, etc.
          It's as much about 3D printing (which I enjoy very much so) as it is about ant-keeping (which I adore.)

          That is fun as shit, to see different morphs - seems like a big project for now, so I don't want to commit too much, but I have always wanted a fricking pet that I can take care of without really "interacting" with it beyond just watching - I always struggled with anything other than fish for that reason, and I really fricking want to watch ants INSIDE their little house.
          Especially because there are just so many - used to love watching the fricking ants walking in a line when I was a kid, I'd fixate on one and track it around.

          Also want to see them exploring and making little trails.
          Would you say that there's something between carpenters / fire ants for speed of growth?
          Something that's solid once established, and not too slow to build up, but also won't grow out of control within a month?
          Can I feed 'em mosquitoes?
          It's spring here, and there will be a frick-ton of mosquitoes and flies invading my home, which I will immediately destroy with my electric fly swatter - I usually just throw them out, but maybe I could feed them to the ants?

          I will also do the whole cotton-ball-in-test-tube-water-drinker thing.
          Thank you for all your advice, anon!

          https://i.imgur.com/EcX63ge.jpg

          Campos can't sting, but they can spray formic acid from their asses, which don't affect us but probably really fricking hurt pillbugs or whatever you're feeding them. Don't feed huge shit like roaches live unless they're fire ants (solenopsis and rubra). In fact, if you have a massive colony with millions of ants, you could feed them a live mouse and they'd be able to take it down. Fire ants are fricking metal.

          I actually know all about the ass-spraying ants, I read about it in an encyclopedia I had as a kid, I thought it was the best shit ever, alongside those hissing wienerroaches.
          I think it was an encyclopedia on bugs.

          • 1 year ago
            Anonymous

            Ok sick, so the first year of antkeeping is going to be kinda slow. Even if you started now, with one of the fastest-growing species, Tetramorium, you're going to have about four weeks before her eggs hatch into workers, so you're probably not going to have more than 40-80 ants by the time winter rolls around and you have to hibernate them

            (Hibernating your ants is actually a really important thing to do. Without it, your queen might basically go through flash-menopause and slow down laying eggs, or stop altogether. Don't worry, though: When it's november, put them outside in a spot where they'll be safe, and bring them in in three months. If you have a minifridge, or a fridge you don't use often, stick them in there. The point is for them to be undisturbed.

            Don't worry about them freezing to death- Camponotus Herculanus, the species I used to own, can survive at temperatures down to -45c. They can produce antifreeze in their blood to keep them alive, it's sick.

            IMPORTANT- check if the species you get actually needs to hibernate- if it's solenopsis (South American fire ants) or a species that doesn't live somewhere with much of a winter then they'll just fricking die when you put them in the cold. Myrmica Rubra, or euro fire ants(also found in the US) should definitely hibernate.

            • 1 year ago
              Anonymous

              That is awesome - I do want to say one thing, it does get *pretty* cold around here - I live in Central/North Ontario, it hits -30C here on a regular basis.
              So, perhaps it might do even some milder-climate Euro or N.A. ants in too.

              But, who knows, if they make their own antifreeze, I say - let them freeze!

              The other incredible convenience/coincidence I found - the local ant shop actually sells what they call "boosted" colonies, which are colonies with 10-20 workers.
              Is that a good idea?
              It's the same price as a normal queen, for some reason, and it seems like it'd basically let me skip the first four weeks entirely.
              They even sell ones with 50 workers for 10 bucks more.

              It will be REALLY fun to see them doing their little ant things though, I always wanted an ant farm.
              Maybe hibernate them in the fridge rather than the -30 outdoors, might be an option.

              Cheers!

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                Alright I've cracked open my fifth beer of the night, anything else I say take with a grain of salt. I hope what I've written so far is mostly coherent, I'm on a discord call while I'm writing this.

                Boosted colonies sound dope, I say go for it. It would be way more rewarding to go from a solitary queen/10-20 workers, though, because when you start with a boosted colony, the workers will sequester away the eggs with the queen and you probably won'y get to watch them grow up. Not to mention, those colonies might have been sitting in cold storage for years, so the queen might be kinda old.

                It's honestly up to you, though. Giving her a little fireteam when she gets boots (tarsi?) om the ground to help her get set up would definitely speed things along. Give her some honey at first, and then give her some grain/protein a couple times a week and watch the numbers boom.

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                No worries, everything you've said makes sense, anon - I appreciate the advice very much so.

                That's how I thought about it too, and I definitely want to "do it right" sometime in the future - a full 10 gallon tank farm with carpenter ants and starting from a solitary queen sounds fun as hell - I think for now, I MIGHT go with that boosted colony, just for the, uh, dopamine of getting to see a little ant colony get going.
                There's an option to get 5-10 workers rather than 10-20, so I might go with that instead.

                The nice thing is, the operator of the farm (it's a tiny business) says all queens are young - could be untrue of course, but I like to think it is.
                Either way, I suppose we'll see!

                At $14 a colony, it's a steal.
                Thank you very much again, anon.

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                Alright, sick! There’s nothing wrong with starting with multiple queens. You can give the queens separate names, and the colonies different names, I had queen I named Antabella of Castille, after Isabella of Castille, and another I named Ion Antrescu, who was named after the dictator of Romania during WW2 who was responsible for killing like 300k slavs.

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                >wouldn't get along with Ion
                >t. Slav
                But, kek, I think I will definitely start with just one queen, anon.
                Naming them sounds very fun - how do you tell them apart, anon?
                Or, do you mean different colonies in different enclosures altogether?
                Cheers!

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                Oh shit, wya? I just read this now, I'm in Markham.

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                Well, hold on a minute, I'm just North-East of you, Kawartha Lakes - Uxbridge area.
                Do you know Canada Ant Colony?
                That's where I wanna buy from.

                I heard from a review that the queens are kept young, something along those lines.
                I'm sure you've probably heard of the shop then, it's open 4-11PM.
                I'll definitely post progress pics, it's a big shame there's no antkeeping general, it's an autistic enough hobby that it deserves a general of its own.

            • 1 year ago
              Anonymous

              Ok so back to the main point, Tetramorium is a good beginner species because during the second years the queen goes from occasionally shitting out an egg to dumping them out in massive quantities. Under ideal conditions, you can have colonies pushing 350,000 ants within two years. They swarm their food, agressively stinging it, before dismantling it and carrying the pieces back to the nest to feed the brood. Ant fact: Grown ants can't digest protein, and only need carbs like honey, sugar water and cracker crumbs to keep them alive. The protein is going to the larvae to help them grow up bigger and stronger, and to the queen, so she can make more eggs.

              Campos, on the other hand, are even slower-growing. It can take a month or more to get the queen to lay eggs, and once the ninatics (first group of ants, these guys are generallists who start the groundwork for the colony, they're weak because they were literally grown and fed off of whatever the queen had in her social stomach, and whatever was left of her dissolved wing muscles she broke down and threw up into their larval mouths.)

              Ok so once the ninanics are on the ground, it'll still take 1.5-2 months for the eggs to mature into workers. But it'll be worth it, as theyy're bigger, stronger, and live for months longer than workers of other ant species. Campos take longer to get settled in, but the colonies can legit hit the millions within 3-4 years if you use heating pads. Campos are more into grains, and aren't as big into swarming and hunting. But if you ever give them a beetle to fight, you'll get these fricking awesome fight scenes straight out of a movie where they'll circle the worm, and then all charge at the same time. I'm not kidding, the supermajors will emerge like tanks and their heads are MASSIVE and they'll work their jaws into the joints and chinks in the beetle/mealworm's armor and just tear it to pieces. I should've recorded the fights when I could, you can't find anything like it online.

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                That's fricking nuts, anon.
                >can't eat protein
                >feeds broken wings
                Ants are wild.

                Honestly, I really want to get ants just so I can watch and DOCUMENT everything they do, like a study.
                I have a microscope too, and a bunch of other equipment for macrophotography.
                >gonna do botanical illustrations of ants and journal on their activities and what they do

                It'd be really fun, and it'd be a neat way to learn more about them in-the-field/in-practice, so to speak.
                Plus, it's a better pasttime than vidya gayems or mindless YouTube consooming.

                I guess that also means ants don't really grow once they're adults / have a short lifespan, if there's no new protein to build new structures/renew?
                And, I guess I should buy just a queen, so her first spawn can be in a nest they'll grow into?

                Or do you venture to guess it'd be alright to buy one with 10-20 workers?
                I would love a jump start, but as a plant-keeper and bonsai enthusiast, I understand all good things take time, and rushing can cause more harm than good sometimes.

                Still, would be fun.

              • 1 year ago
                Anonymous

                Sounds good to me, you could get like a series going where you post update pics here and people can follow along, it'll be cool.

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      P.S. Thank you for the advice, anon!

  4. 1 year ago
    Anonymous

    Keep in mind that if it gets too warm, your farm may warp just enough to let the ants escape. A sunny windowsill is enough to make some of my prints droop a bit, I wouldn’t trust PLA enough to keep escape artists like ants contained. One of the other plastics with a higher melt temp might be better.

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      Thank you for the excellent point, fren - I didn't think it'd make that much of a difference, but you have a point for sure.
      I heard ants don't really like their nest being bright, so I thought I might actually keep it in the shade, which may negate the warping - still, I will certainly think about it.

      I wanted to go with PLA as it's been the easiest to process in my opinion, plus minimally-toxic bonus.
      Perhaps PETG?

      • 1 year ago
        Anonymous

        Ants like a warmth gradient- give them warm areas, and room-temperature areas. Don't make it too warm, you don't want to cook the frickers to death.

        Give them sand in the outworld, and they'll deadass line the nest with it to maintain a humidity gradient. It's insane.

    • 1 year ago
      Anonymous

      >if it gets too warm, your farm may warp just enough to let the ants escape
      A cool alternative would be to design a negative made from 3D printed material and cast it in gypsum/plaster.
      You can go all out and make a variety of tunnel sizes, and heating, ventilation, and hydration systems. Get creative and add bridge elements you remove after the plaster is cured, something you can't get by CNC-milled Ytong.
      Picrel, it's Ants Australia's Ytong nest.

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