Building an ant farm is one of the most fun and engaging activities that has recently caught momentum. Many new beginners are entering the playing field; a common question is what is the easiest ants to keep?
The easiest ants to keep are the Black Carpenter Ants. This is because the Black Carpenter Ant has excellent size, is highly adaptable to any change or mistakes beginners make, is fully claustral, does not sting and rarely bites, has an ant-keeper friendly diet, and is low maintenance due to their cleanliness.
Building an ant farm is fascinating, and knowing which ants are easiest can help you jump-start your ant-keeping journey.
More information about the Camponotus Pennsylvanicus (Black Carpenter Ant) is below.
Here is a close-up of one!
Why is the Black Carpenter Ant so Easy To Keep?
These ants are fantastic to keep and are one of the easiest species I’ve ever owned.
Some of these reasons are included below.
Black Carpenter Ants have a Great Size.
These ants are giant, hearty, and easily seen.
You know from other guides on our website, that we suggest catching Queen ants after they’ve taken flight for mating.
With the Queen of the Black Carpenter Ant coming in at about 15mm (.6 inches), these ants stand out and become easy targets to catch.
If a queen ant is easy to catch after her flight, starting your colony becomes much more accessible.
Something else that is not discussed enough in the ant-keeping community is activity viewing.
With some of my other ants that are much smaller, it’s hard to see what they’re doing due to their size.
With these ants, you can get a very up close and personal look without the need for a magnifying class.
This also makes these ants great for more “open” areas (Like the living room).
Black Carpenter Ants are Highly Adaptable
Some ants are super sensitive to change, and anytime you alter something (food, water, location, etc.), you potentially put your colony at risk.
This is super annoying for beginners or passive ant keepers as they are prone to making many mistakes.
The Black Carpenter Ant is incredibly adaptable and doesn’t seem to penalize mistakes as harshly as other species of ants.
When I was raising my first colony, I dropped the test tube before any of the brood had converted to workers.
Sometimes doing something like this will cause the Queen to freak out and eat her brood or stop producing eggs altogether.
It did not change anything, and I still have my Black Carpenter Ant colony to this day!
Black Carpenter Ants are Fully-Claustral
Anytime you see “Fully-Claustral,” you should get excited.
This means that the Queen needs no maintenance during her initial “test-tube” period.
Since Black Carpenter Ants are fully-claustral, she will fast and survive from energy stored in her body from earlier in the year.
She will use this energy to start her colony and will need no maintenance besides water for the beginning stages.
She will even use this stored energy to feed her first worker ants, making it easier to keep these awesome ants.
This directly ties into why Black Carpenter Ants are the easiest species to keep because the beginning period of ant keeping is sometimes very hard, and poses the highest risk of failure.
With the Black Carpenter Ant, you have a species you can give some water to and place in the dark while the Queen Ant takes care of everything.
Compared to Semi-Claustral species that need to be in an outworld/formicarium from day one.
For Semi-Claustral species, you will need to strategically set up food resources because these ants need to be able to forage and roam.
Fully-Clasustral species are much easier to keep and only need a consistent water resource and darkness to start their colony.
Black Carpenter Ant do not Sting
These ants do not sting, but they do bite.
In my personal experience, these ants only bite when they have felt threatened or disturbed.
I’ve moved my Black Carpenter Ants around many times, and a couple of the times, I had to grab a worker ant (with my hand) and put them back into the outworld.
Luckily, I was never bitten during this process.
I have heard from other ant keepers that the bite from these ants is actually pretty painful, but again in my experience they only bite when their colony is threatened.
Black Carpenter Ant will Eat Anything
My favorite part about keeping the Black Carpenter Ant is how easy it is to feed them.
These ants will eat anything and everything.
Compared to something like a Harvester Ant, where you always have to have seeds on you – these guys will eat it all.
They love all different types of food, and I usually have them on a schedule of dead insects, carbs (from sugar water and honey), and plants.
Even though they do eat everything, you want to make sure that you have them on a well-balanced diet.
This is the best way to ensure that the colony grows at its max potential.
If you’re reading this, you probably haven’t started your colony yet – but let me give you some advice..
There will be a point where you either run out of food, need to get some food quickly, or are running super low.
Having an ant that can be fed many different things makes it so much easier in the long run.
Another great reason why the Black Carpenter Ant is the easiest ant to keep!
We give a full rundown of how you should keep ants for beginners here in this guideline: Full guide to Keeping Ants as a Beginner
Black Carpenter Ants clean up After Themselves
This trait isn’t unique to the Black Carpenter Ants but is a pivotal one to have.
The Black Carpenter Ants will create a room off to the side of your outworld or formicarium where they will dispose of their trash and waste.
It may sound like this is not a big deal, but having only to clean up one room of an outworld is much easier than needing to clean up the whole formicarium every week.
Remember, you will have this colony for years, and if I had to choose between cleaning up one room compared to multiple, that choice wouldn’t be too hard.
Somewhere in your formicarium, there will be an area that the Black Carpenter Ants will set up where they will dispose of the trash and waste.
Are these the only ants I should raise on my ant farm?
While we like to suggest the carpenter ants as one of the easiest ants to get started with, there are a ton of other ant species you can use to start your own ant colony.
The harvest ant and the black garden ant will make great pet ants.
Picking either the harvester ant or starting a black garden ant colony will be a great introduction to the ant keeping hobby.
Are there any ant species I should avoid on my ant farm?
When starting your first ant farm, we highly suggest you stay away from any of the exotic ant species, like the bulldog ants, etc.
Stick to the common species that you’ve seen stuff about, like wood ants and harvester ants.
Keeping ants can be simple, as long as you allow it to be.
One thing we want to make sure you stay away from is all forms of red imported ants. This also includes the European fire ant.
In this link, we go over why you probably shouldn’t start with the fire ant much in-depth, but they’re a hard species to handle.
Frequently asked questions
We’d love to watch your ant colony grow, but there’s just too much going on in the ant world to keep up with everyone and answer every question.
hopefully, some of these below will help you with your first ant formicarium and keeping ants as pets.
(Still keep sending us emails with your set-ups, and we’ll feature them!)