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How to Catch a Queen Ant

The perfect way to start your own ant colony!


Make sure you have a suitable formicarium ready for your new queen ant.
Our Ant Colony Founding Kit is a perfect start for a new colony.

Ant Colony Founding Kit

1. Contact an expert about the best time

Queen ants in existing colonies will venture off to start new colonies during certain times of the year. Local entomologists (people who study insects) or even local pest control companies will likely know the best time of year for you to search for a queen ant venturing off to build a new colony. Day length, temperature, and rainfall are just a few of the variables to take into consideration for your area regarding when a queen will do this. For dryer areas such as the Southwest, it will usually be in the springtime, whereas later summer monsoons may be the ideal time in other regions.

2. Find an area with several active ant colonies

The more ant colonies you check during the correct window of opportunity, the more likely you will be to find a queen ant during her search. A queen is also likely to try to build a colony in an area where other ant colonies already thrive, so look for spots in undeveloped areas with several colonies within a short distance of one another.

3. Look for a queen ant

Queen ants and the males that mate with them don’t simply fly out of the mature colony entrance knowing where to go. During the correct window, you might see several queen ants walking around near the entrance to their parent colony. During this period, the queen ants are testing the weather to decide on the right time to start a new colony. Since you're looking for a queen ant, you should know how to differentiate them from the other ants in the colony. At this stage, the queen ant will have wings. However, even after the stage where she pulls off her wings, you can identify her by her much larger size compared to the other ants. This will be most prominent in the thorax, which is the middle section of the ant between the head and the abdomen of the ant. You can also find additional characteristics provided at: How to Identify a Queen Ant If you simply want a queen ant, this is the ideal time to cup one; however, if you want a queen ant in order to start your own ant colony, then you shouldn’t do it yet. These still winged queen ants have not yet mated in this step of colony building

4. Wait until you see a queen ant wandering around erratically

Once a queen mates, she will look for the new colony location. In contrast to the fairly oriented paths of most ants, the queen ant will wander around checking cracks and crevices, changing directions, and generally resembling a lost tourist in a big city. Her erratic behavior simply means she’s looking for the ideal spot to begin her new colony. Another sign that a queen ant has already mated is when she has pulled off her wings. Once she picks a general area, she will pull off her wings in order to appear less conspicuous. She will still walk around trying to find the perfect location in her chosen area, though.

5. Handle your new queen ant with care

Once she has pulled off her wings, it’s much easier to catch a queen ant, but make sure you handle her gently. If you want to transport your queen ant to make a personal ant farm, a film canister works well. Make sure she gets plenty of water by placing a damp cotton ball inside the canister as well. Our All-in-One Kits are a perfect Starter Formicarium for every new colony.

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