Why Are MILLIONS of People Keeping ANTS as PETS?


I have a question for you. Have you ever killed an ant? Be honest. Was it death by bug spray? Or the laying down of poison perhaps? Or maybe a massacre by magnifying glass? Don’t worry. We’ve all done it, myself included. But now guys, have a look at this man for
a moment. His name is Milton Levine. In the 1950’s, Milton invented a little plastic
toy enclosure that holds some sand and a little bit of plastic shaped like a farm house. He called this invention an Ant Farm, and
it was designed to house a colony of creatures most of the world normally wants to kill. Ants! Milton was a visionary, and knew there was
something about ants that was totally magnificent and relevant to us people, and you’ll find
out what that is by the end of this video. You’ll also be surprised to know how many
ant farms he’s actually sold to date, and I’ll also be revealing that in a bit, but
first, if you’re new to the channel, you may be sitting there thinking… Gross! Now why would anyone want to keep ants as
pets? At least a dog, cat, or horse can show you
affection right? Fair. Ants can’t lick your face, you can’t stroke
an ant with little tweezers, and you certainly can’t ride them. But what if I told you, pet ants can offer
something so much more satisfying? Most of you AC Family and long time subscribers
of this channel already understand and are deeply infected hard with ant love, despite
you guys proclaiming not even being “insect” people prior to subscribing to this channel. So AC Family, have a seat, because this is
a video particularly for the newbies curiously wandering into this strange part of Youtube. For you newcomers, what I’m about to show
you today will completely change the way you see ants, and by the end of it all, perhaps
the next time you see an ant, you may just choose to not only not kill it, but appreciate
why millions of us in the world, including myself, have decided to keep ants as pets. Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel and hit the
bell icon. Welcome to the AC Family. Enjoy! First off, to understand why people keep pet
ants, you gotta take a look at how ant keepers start their ant colony. Basically, it all starts with a queen ant. That’s a queen right there in the tube. She is like the seed of your colony. She lays all the eggs and keeps your colony
going. Every worker ant she lays, only lives for
a couple months max, but the queen, she lives for decades. Word has it, that the longest lived queen
ant on record was close to 30 yrs in a German laboratory. So how do you get this queen? Well, there’s a special season in the year
when new queen ants are available to capture. You see, during the spring and summer months,
every species of ant has its own specific period when they execute an incredible annual
event known as a nuptial flight. During this nuptial flight, young virgin queens
and males, both of which are born with wings, emerge from their home birth nests, take to
the air and mate while flying. They make love in the sky. Imagine that! That love is so fantastic that the males die
afterwards as they’d have fulfilled their purpose in life. Then the now pregnant queens drop to the ground,
break off their wings, and seek a hole in the ground to start their ant colonies. Now as the ant keeper it’s our job to try
to find one of these queen ants wandering around in search of a nesting site. Once you’ve caught a queen, the next step
is to place her into a test tube setup. This test tube setup simulates the little
hole in the ground, called a claustral cell, that she would have created in the wild. Now what happens in this test tube claustral
cell is totally miraculous. Sitting quietly in her test tube setup she
begins her epic journey as queen of her future colony. She doesn’t eat as she’s 100% focused on raising
her first generation of her army. She subsists for a month or even longer, on
energy stores in her wing muscles. Her body becomes a self-feeding, soup-making
machine, as she lays eggs, which hatch into larvae, which she then feeds her self-made
soup, drawing from these wing-muscle stores. The larvae then eventually pupate, and finally
become worker ants. These worker ants are her critical final cry
for survival because they must survive to bring her food, and care for her future young. The success of the entire colony relies on
the effective teamwork of this first generation of ants, known as nanitics. The nanitics are pioneers on a mission, and
are just incredible to watch! They break out of the claustral cell, search
for food, and bring it all home for their single, widowed, and starving mother. So you see? This is better than having a dog or cat or
horse. Ant keepers are witnessing real life ant drama
in a test tube! Now, to all you people who’ve said you’ve
killed an ant before, how does it feel knowing you may have destroyed a single, widowed mother’s
last chance at survival? Haha! So at this stage, things get even more intense,
not just for the ants, but for the ant keeper. Now you have a queen with her nanitics, who
are needing food and space, and this is where the ant keeper gets to play the role of God,
admittedly, another attractive aspect about ant keeping. Me, personally, I’m a benevolent god, and
truth is most of us ant keepers are, so as soon as these nanitics arrive I move them
from a test tube to a full out ant farm, like this. So this section here is the nest part known
as a formicarium, which simulates their inner nest, which I can peek into at will, and this
container section, called an outworld, acts as their outside world. So I as their Lord must give them food, and
I place it into the outworld. The nanitics come and find the food, grab
a bite to eat, then make their way back to the nest, through these cool tubes, leaving
a pheromone trail on its way back, and tell the rest of the nanitics that it hit the jackpot,
and to follow the trail it left to the bounty. Now, guys, here’s another reason why ants
are so fun to observe! You literally get to see from a God’s eye
view, their social media. Yes, ants have social media! Not using internet, but using pheromones,
biochemicals produced by their body. An ant can leave a pheromone in an area with
a specific message, like “Here is food!”, and it’s kind of like posting a tweet! Any ants coming into the area and smelling
the pheromone has the choice to retweet the message, and this continues on an on until
all members of an ant colony are made aware of the original message, even from far away. This is how when you’re eating on a picnic,
it only takes one ant to discover your sandwich before a whole line of ants come marching
in to grab a bite of your goods! In ant keeping you can literally watch messages
make its way back to the colony in the nest, and visibly see the excitement of the ants
that clearly go “Whooopie!” as they dash out to go eat. It’s so fun to watch news spread within an
ant colony. All messages, including messages of danger
or intruder alert spread in the same way! Messages are always traveling through the
members of an ant colony at all times, and the bigger the ant colony the quicker these
messages travel, simply because there are more members to retweet the messages, and
messages trend! Now as you give more food, the colony grows
larger and larger, the queen lays more eggs, and soon, you end up with a massive army of
millions of ants, that you’ve grown from just a queen, kind of like this. In a year or two, the ant keeper now is the
owner of a massive ant city which he/she must not only feed, but also cleanup after. They leave all their garbage at a garbage
site in their outworld which you must clean up regularly, as well as their dead at a grave
site. They establish bathroom areas in their nest
which also need regular cleaning. Ants are quite clean and systematic, and need
to be to survive. If you’re like me, you can get around cleaning
duties by keeping the ants in bioactive vivariums so little critters and lifeforms like springtails
can do the cleaning up themselves, as they would in the wild. As the colony evolves, in some species of
ants, there start to appear specialized workers like really huge supermajors which specialize
in cutting things up, and really tiny minors which are excellent at handling babies. It’s a tiny society, housed within the space
of a table top. Another thing that makes ant keeping so much
more interesting is that there literally thousands of ant species, shapes, colours, and lifestyles
to choose from! Check it out! Have a look at these turtle ants, with these
huge disc-shaped heads which are used to plug the entrances to their nests. Imagine having a door as a face? And check out these dracula ants. These scary-looking ants suck the blood of
their own young by making tiny incisions in their skin, which heal after the adults feed. The adult workers fatten their young with
food so they can produce the blood needed to feed the workers. Mother Nature can be so dark! And check out these leaf-cutter ants, which
cut up leaves from plants to carry back to the nest which they use to fertilize their
expansive fungus gardens, which they feed from. They don’t eat the plant pieces, just the
fungus. They are farmers, and have been millions of
years before humans ever existed. Look at these Pheidole ants, which stroke
colonies of mealybugs until they excrete a sweet bi-product called honeydew. Yes, ants have also been tending and milking
ant cows for millions of years! And some of my favourites, the famous Weaver
Ants, which use their young’s silk to glue massive leaf basket nests together in the
trees. The transpiration occurring through the leaves
acts as a natural humidifier within their treetop, hanging fortresses! Mind-blowing stuff right? But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There’s more! What’s most incredible is their efficiency. Regardless of how big an ant colony is, every
ant gets fed, no baby starves, they erect massive structures over night, they keep their
living quarters clean, they communicate effectively, and work in perfect synergy. But it requires we humans to keep up with
them! It’s not just a one way relationship. The ants depend on us! The ant colony as a growing functioning city
demands that the ant keeper keeps up with his/her duties, of constantly providing clean
water, food, clean up, ensure temperature and humidity is just right, and protect the
ants from plagues like mites and fungi, and earthquakes, by not shaking the ant farm for
no reason. Which brings me to the final reason, ant keepers
like myself love to keep ants. Here on the channel we have a term called
Ant Love. It’s something that describes that feeling
I’m about to describe now. Ant keeping taps into that very deep desire
in us humans to care for life. We ant keepers are not caring for just a dog,
a cat, or a horse, but an entire nation of individual lives, that give us nothing back
but the sole gratification of knowing we are helping them live out their best lives. This to me is the most important reason for
keeping pet ants, because imagine the young person who masters caring for a little ant
population. Wouldn’t you trust them as adults to care
for our human population? Ant keeping enriches ones worldview, and sets
up the stage for the culturing of future government leaders, engineers, architects, farmers, doctors,
lawyers, all career fields which require some skill set applied in ant keeping in some way,
shape, or form. It’s an understatement to say that ant keeping
has changed my life. I’ve been ant keeping for several decades
of my life now, and it’s opened me up to an incredible world of discovery! This ant Youtube channel here, with one of
the most exceptional communities on Youtube, has almost 3 million ant-loving subscribers. Today I’m the owner of millions of ants of
many species, and I’ve even ended up making ant keeping a business, along with a great
team of ant lovers, and an online shop that sells ant keeping supplies and ant farms worldwide. Now remember the original ant farm by Milton
Levine? Ready to hear how many have been sold? You may be surprised to know that Uncle Milton
Industries Inc, the company of the late Milton Levine, who is now lauded as the godfather
of ant keeping, has actually gone on to sell over 20 million ant farms globally at the
time of his death. Perhaps now you can see what Milton saw to
be so magnificent and relevant in the ant back in the 1950’s. Ants are us. And so the next time you see an ant, instead
of killing it, maybe just maybe you might consider keeping it as a pet. It’s ant love forever! AC Family, did you enjoy today’s episode? It was a little different this week, but I
felt we needed a video to help promote the ant keeping hobby a bit more, which was the
original dream and purpose for starting this channel in the first place. Special thanks to biologist and nature photographer
Alex Wild for allowing us to use his incredible ant photographs for this video. He is my favourite ant photographer and friend,
so check him out at Alexanderwild.com and order some brilliant, high quality prints
of his ants and other insects from his gallery. There is still much more ahead in the Antiverse,
guys so if you’re not subscribed yet, be sure to hit that SUBSCRIBE button and BELL ICON
now so you don’t miss out in the real life drama of the inhabitants of the Ant Room. And don’t forget to hit the LIKE button every
single time, including now! It would really help a lot! Speaking of ants, it’s officially nuptial
flight season in the Northern Hemisphere, and a lot of you are catching queen ants now,
and in case you didn’t know, we’ve got all the top of the line ant keeping gear for you
ant keepers at all levels from beginner to advanced, as well as a tonne of new and exciting
products for the ant keeping community not available anywhere else, so head on over to
AntsCanada.com, and browse through our shop. We ship worldwide, and offer full email support
if you need us. We also have ant colonies with a queen available
in most regions so go check us out and pick up your ant farm kit and ant gear today! If you’re new to the channel, and want to
catch up on all your AntsCanada Lore, feel free to binge watch this complete story line
playlist here, which traces the origins of all the ant colonies of the ant room, so you
can follow their stories and better appreciate how these ant kingdoms came to be, and why
we love them so much! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie
for you here, if you’d like to watch a playlist of relaxing hidden videos on this channel,
with footage of ants and other creatures to the sounds of relaxing music. Go explore and enjoy nature shot in 4K! And now it’s time for the AC Question of the
Week! Last week we asked: What were the Rhino Beetles competing for
in these Rhino Beetle Games? Congratulations to John McCabe who correctly
answered: The Rhino Beetle Games were for the rights
to breed, shelter, and all the food they need. Congratulations, John McCabe, you just won
a free e-book handbook from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week, we
ask: What is a Claustral Cell? Leave your answer in the comments section
and you could also win a free e-book handbook from our shop! Hope you can subscribe to the channel as we
upload every Saturday at 8AM EST. Please remember to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, and
SUBSCRIBE if you enjoyed this video to help us keep making more. It’s ant love forever!

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