So you are wondering what species of ant you should get as a beginner? Don't worry, this list has you covered. All these species are very fun to keep and all have its charm.
1. Lasius Niger
These are the ultimate European beginner ant. They dominate Europe and are everywhere. These species are very common also explaining why they are so easy to keep. They are very forgiven and can take a hit. You don't want to buy these ants? Then go catch these ants yourself! Go watch this video if you want to learn how to capture ant queens.
+ Grow relatively fast.
+ No harsh heat or humidity requirements.
+ Nest in anything you throw at them. + Can take a hit and are not sensitive to vibrations. + Eat practically anything.
- Can be very stubborn to move.
2. Messor barbarus
A rather large species which collect and eats seeds. They are commonly known as harvester ants and are a species which lots of people keep. This species is great because all they need is seeds and water, so if you are going to go on holiday, just fill up a liquid feeder and give them plenty of seeds! They do take sugars and protein too, just like other ants, but it isn't required, just recommended. Messor barbarus is very fun to keep because of their harvesting behavior and have a very polymorphic workers caste. This means that the workers come in a lot of different sizes. The smaller workers care for the brood whilst the larger workers crack and convert the seeds into ant bread. This ant bread is made from the seeds the ants harvest and fed to the colony. Because they ants mainly eat seeds their waste is very thick and white. It has been said Messor barbarus is very prone to light but this is a myth. In fact they are just very sensitive to vibration. + Very polymorphic. + Eat seeds. + Easy to feed. + Easy to maintain.
- Very sensitive to vibrations. - Queen stressed and runs out of the nest. - Do benefit from heating.
3. Tetramorium caespitum
This is a very easy to keep and simple species. They grow fast and show active behavior. + Can grow very fast. + Very active when bigger. + Harvest small seeds.
- Small ants. - Shy at the start. - Escape artists.
4. Camponotus cruentatus
Europa's favorite Camponotus! These ants often have the title of being one of the best European Camponotus species. This is because they grow fast and beautiful colors.
+ No humidity requirements.
+ Largest queen in Europe. + Largest European majors. + Active species. + Grows fast for a Camponotus species. - Requires a specific heated setup
5. Camponotus nicobarensis
Your first exotic ant colony! Camponotus nicobarensis is by far the most popular European exotic. They grow very fast and have nice colors. The reason why most people choose for Camponotus nicobarensis is because they are very easy to keep and don't require a hibernation pause. Usually these ants are quite cheap and definitely bang for your buck! If you want to see what this colony looks like check this video. Camponotus nicobarensis are polygynous meaning they can have multiple queens. This allows for an even faster colony growth.
+ Grow extremely fast. + Medias and majors. + Very active. + Eat everything. + Don't stress easily.
- Need heating. - You need a lot of nests and outworlds once the colony gets bigger.
6. Camponotus ligniperda
The largest queen in Europe! That is correct. Camponotus ligniperda can reach up to 2 cm! These ants are very easy to keep but you have think about a few things when acquiring these ants. In the wild Camponotus ligniperda makes huge nests and dominates forest.
+ No humidity requirements. + No heat requirements.
+ Largest queen in Europe. + Medias and majors. + Active species.
- Grow extremely slow.
- Hard to found.
7. Lasius Flavus
The little sister of Lasius niger. These colourful ants also make an awesome first species! They are rather shy but larger colonies do see some wonderful foraging behaviors! This species sees a special sort of founding called oligogyny. Oligoynes behavior means workers can tolerate multiple queens but queens don't tolerate each other. Lasius flavus can also perform pleometrosis; This means they can have two or more queens while founding. Unfortunately, when the colony gets bigger, they will decide to kill the weaker queen(s), leaving only one! This species is very shy and timid. Flavus need a lot of babysitting as they don’t have much of an instinct to forage when colonies are younger.
+ No harsh heat or humidity requirements.
+ Nest in anything you throw at them. + Can take a hit and are not sensitive for vibrations. + You don't need a large nest or outworld.
- Can be very stubborn to move. - Very shy. - Slow growth. - Drown in liquid fast.
8. Pheidole pallidula
This is a ferocious species that although their small size can take large amounts of protein. The species gets large headed soldiers which guard and cut up food for the colony. Which is really cool to see and very interesting to observe. They are called big headed ants because of the majors large head. They use this head to block entrances in case of an foreign ant intrusion. Big colonies eat seeds that the majors can help crack. Pheidole pallidula can grow pretty fast in numbers. Since they are smaller ants they can escape from a setup relatively easy so it is recommend that you purchase or make the right setup.
+ Fast growth.
+ Big headed majors. + No harsh humidity requirements. + Interesting behavior.
- Small size.
- Good at escaping if you are unprepared.
- Don't do well in nests early on.
9. Crematogaster scuttelaris
A species everyone loves and hates at the same time. They are very beautiful and perform extremely interesting behavior. They used to have a stinger but due to evolution they lost this stinger but still try to sting which is called scorpion behavior. This is very interesting to observe in captivity. Because these ants are smaller size they are very good at escaping often being called escape artists. The fun thing about Crematogaster in general is that they grow very very fast. And can reach 10.000 workers in a couple of years. + Very fast growth. + Interesting behaviour. + Ants have beautiful colors. + They don't need any humidity. + Very agresive. -When colonies reach above 2k workers they are very hard to contain. - Escape artists. - Small.
10. Myrmica rubra
This species is also called the European fire ant. This refers to the sting of the ants that can give a burning feeling. They are very active and will aggressively attack their pray.
+ Fast growth.
+ Can have multiple queens. + Very active. + Aggressive.
- Can sting.
- Dry out fast need high humidity.
- Don't do well in nests.
- Camponotus barbaricus
Like Camponotus cruentatus these ants have one of the largest workers in Europe! + Largest workers in Europe. + Very active. + Majors.
+ No humidity requirements. - Slow growth.
- Formica fusca
A beautiful wood ant species that can be very rewarding to keep. + Largest workers. + Very active + Majors.
+ Can grow very fast. - Very sensitive. - Need high humidity. - Temnothorax sp.
These are also called Acorn ants because they nest inside acorns. The whole colony live insides a tiny acorn.
+ Cute ants. + Colonies stay small. + Interesting behavior.
- Very small. - Need high humidity. - Escape artists. - Colonies stay small.