Basic Tools Guide

From Ant Keeping Wiki


Ant housing

test tubes

Having a few spare test tubes is always a good thing. Existing tubes may leak, a colony may outgrow their tube before there's a new nest available, and tubes of smaller sizes (like 1x5cm) also work great as sugar feeders.


Cotton is a vital part in the creation of test tube setups but also has a few other uses, like applying barriers for escape prevention and it can be used to apply sugar water to very small ants which are prone to drowning in dishes filled with sugar water.


Q-tips are great for removing trash from test tubes of small ant colonies. They can also be used to apply sugary sweets to small ants in a less messy fashion that a cotton balls soaked in sticky liquid.

Small bead containers or something similar

These are useful to store your antkeeping tools as well as food that is not immediately needed – just put the food box in the freezer and it's contents will stay fresh for weeks if not months.

any sort of barrier barrier, fluon, baby powder+ alcohol, vaseline ect)

Some ants have a remarkable ability to disable or just walk off barriers. It's always a good idea to have something to replace the barrier (even if it's just a temporary solution before getting something more permanent) so if the one in place fails you don't have to helplessly watch the ants exploring your room.

Cleaning tools

flat brush for cleaning

A large flat brush is perfect for picking up the amost weightless shells of feeder insects and ant corpses as well as cocoon huls and small leftover food bits. Everything larger that the brush fails to pick up can then be removed with tweezers.

garbage dish

Ant trash after taken out has to go somewhere, a small dish or box is perfect for this purpose. Putting a large trash can in front of the formicarium often prooves somewhat unhandy.

Feeding equipment

feeding dishes

Pre-killed insects can cause quite some mess, as well as frozen insects when they thaw. Small feeding dishes made from plastic, glass or enamelled clay can prevent gooy fluids from sickering into your substrate and causing mold or mite outbreaks.

liquid feeder

Sugary liquids can be applied in small dishes but feeders specifically designed for ants have a few advantages. Very small ants tend to get sucked into larger drops of water due to surface tension and drown, also liquids applied on a dish tend to dry out very quickly as the big surface area causes a lot of evaporation.


Standard plastic syringes are useful for mixing and applying sugary sweets and watering the nest. They're not really required but they make those tasks much easier.


Those are incredibly useful for picking trash from the outworld, particularly with stinging ants.

long metal tweezers/forceps

Mostly useful for handling large feeder insects like roaches or locusts and crickets (which both can actually bite you) they can also be used to remove the carcasses of those after the ants have stripped them of all fleshy parts. Definitely one of the most useful tools on antkeeping.


Small ant colonies often need their food cut up as they cannot handle the thick carapace of larger insects. You don't want to cut stuff with scissors tat have mealworm goo on them so it's best to have a seperate pair of scissors for your ant stuff.