This was such an awesome opportunity, interviewing Miles Maxcer from "The Ant Network".
Still getting in line with the time difference, I had thought I still had ample time when the episode started recording, I thought we was due to record 20:00 (8pm) GMT UK time, of course I get a message at 19:00 (7pm) asking where I was! just sitting down to dinner with the misses thinking I had plenty of time to spare, grabbed the laptop, internet cutting in and out, was loading up the show notes as my part came to speak, I was a bit flabbergasted & tongue tied, but soon got into the swing of things, with so many great questions from the community, literally every question I wanted to ask, had already been in put into the show notes, so many great questions I even missed seeing, Esthetics #wedontapprove question and asking it myself, not my finest of moments, but at least we got it asked!
Moving forward I now have my phone showing both the local time in Michigan USA & in the UK, no more time zone confusion!
Give the podcast a listen, if your an Itunes listener, please consider giving the show a review, it helps the ratings & scope massively.
Lauren Silverman, writing for the National Geographic, has written a very in depth article, about Ant Keeping, the unlikely rise of the hobby, which was brought into the mainstream by Uncle Milton's Ant Farms, the first commercially produced & sold world wide, Ant Formicaria in the late 50's early 60's, In the US these Formicaria were sold with Pogonomyrmex a North American, harvester Ant species, when it reached the EU, they were sold with Messor Barbarus, the European harvester Ant, both species remain to be some of the most popular kept, ant species in their regions.
Certainly the hobby has evolved, it would be unrecognisable to our forebearers, with the choices in formicaria alone, not to mention the growth of the hobby worldwide, aided by the age of technology, the internet, as part of the generation that kept Ants prior to the internet boom, NTL made the internet more accessible for the UK, in the year 2000, with the launch of broadband, dial up was a poor excuse for internet, it would take hours to load a simple Jpeg file.
At that point not much existed in the web, regarding the hobby of ant keeping, really I would say it wasn't until the launch of Facebook in 2004, to put it in perspective, my early years as an Ant keeper came to an end, around 2005.
Fast forward to 2021, we have hundreds of Facebook hobby groups with thousands of members, communities across other platforms, Discord, Reddit, Instagram & the latest craze on TikTok.
Information & knowledge on the hobby is now readily available, youtubers such as Ants Canada & Ants Australia, paved the way for millions into the hobby. I would attribute the internet & technology, to being the biggest catalyst, taking this hobby, from a kid like myself keeping Ants in dirt jars & other home made formicaria, fruitless expeditions to the local library in search for knowledge on how to keep Ants, anything I could find, but content was scarce, to having it all at my fingers tips, through my phone or laptop.
The internet totally, changed the face of the world, opened doors, we have never had so much information readily available to us, now a quick google search can connect you to a whole database of scientific and academia, articles on ants, forums filled with Ant Keepers, video content, more than you could find the time to watch it all.
We have been spoilt by some epic documentary's from the legendary likes of Sir David Attenborough, One of my favorite documentaries to come from the BBC was the Empire of the Desert Ants, narrated by Andy Serkis. Follwing a colony of Myrmecocystus (Honeypot Ants) in the deserts of Arizona, USA.
Its moments like these, when our humble hobby is highlighted to the world, that we as keepers, content creators or ant loving community members, we tend to see an influx of newly emerging keepers into the hobby, perhaps sparking an old childhood interest, others a completely new interest, being left in awe from what they have seen or read.
Articles, documentaries, content creators, inspire people to be a part of the hobby, Its been amazing to see this growth, gaining more and more momentum.
The Ant keeping hobby is not like any other hobby that I have ever taken up, it can be an emotional rollercoaster at times, its certainly one of the biggest learning curves, there is so much to get to grips with, from Latin names, to understanding the differences between species, understanding your local laws, Identifying Queens, capturing or purchasing Queens to start a colony, learning how to create a safe and stable environment, it can feel overwhelming.
My advice to new keepers, join Facebook groups or Discord groups, you can find some listed in the "Our Colony" links page, this will link you into one of your biggest resources & support pools, the community as a whole are very welcoming, most go out of their way to help, give advice or make suggestions, its a unique mix and group of people, from all walks of life.
Terms & Conditions
To enter simply comment on the video, if you would like to show more appreciation please, share the video, show a friend, if you haven't already please consider subscribing to the channel.
I will select winners at random and announce them in the next video, if you win, but are not eligible, due to age, permissions, laws, etc, I will re-draw a new winner in the following video.
Thank you Ants Davey for your generous gift so I am able to offer this competition to the community.
I was due to announce the competition winners in a live stream, since hibernation the Queen has not laid any brood, she has 2 pupae, prior to hibernation which have not eclosed.
I'm not quite sure what is currently happening with the Queen, I'm a little worried to announce a winner and the Queen may not be viable, she had laid brood when she arrived, she ate them prior to hibernation leaving only the 2 pupae.
It could be that a problem has arisen with the Queen through hibernation, I'm not entirely sure the reason, she has not laid since & the pupae have not eclosed.
In theory they should have eclosed by now & she should be well into a few cycles of laying brood.
I would like to wait until the Queen has laid more brood & has some workers, just so that I know that I have done the right thing, she seems in good health, she is actively foraging in the tubs & tubes set up.
I know the competition has been a total shambles on my end and I apologise, I tried to set something up, I was not able to do, then when the pandemic started, shipping became dodgy, I decided to wait a little longer until that all calmed down, months later this is where I currently find myself with the competition.
My proposal is if the Queen is not viable, I will contact Ants Davey & purchase a replacement, to eventually offer the entrants as a prize, he was very kind to offer the first Queen as a prize, she had brood, she was healthy, the fact is her current state could be due to mistakes I have made without realising, perhaps through the hibernation, I've racked my brains, gone over everything a dozen times, quite simply I don't know.
I know those who entered the competition may be feeling disappointed & I totally understand why, I will find a way to make it up to you all, I have the list of entrants saved.
I am still going through the process of learning, setting up the live streams, getting everything in order, I hope this mishap, is something we can all move forward trusting that I will make it happen the competition will be run at some point once I know what's happening with the Queen or have purchased a replacement, it was an honest balls up, I hold my hands up, I over reached in my capabilities and what I hoped to deliver. Lesson learned.
I just wanted to keep everyone in the loop, I have not forgotten, I just don't know what is the best step to take yet, I don't want someone to win a prize just to be disappointed.
Miles Maxcer, is the content creator behind "The Ant Network"
He currently has 4.42k subscribers!
Derka has invited Miles for an interview, on Formicast,
he will be joining us for a pre-recorded show,
this is your last minute chance to get in your Questions,
you may have for Miles?
He is incredibly knowledgeable being an Insect Ecologist.
Check out his content!
Join us on the Formicast Discord
My little darlings, have croup, my daughter caught it from nursery, my 6th month old, is well into the frontlines of teething aswell as catching croup from his sister, at this current point in his life, I'm pretty sure he thinks, he has been interned into Guantanamo Bay & is slowly being tortured, he hasn't got a great pain tolerance, so has been making scrooge look jolly.
"Operation Rugrats Down"
Since I got back from work, its been all hands on deck, meaning, again I apologise I'm a little late, releasing the "Ultimate Care Guide to Raising Messors".
I need to re-record some of the audio, playing it back you can hear my dog snoring, for some reason he sounds louder than I do talking, however I was trying to be quiet as it was 3am, the misses & the kids were fast asleep.
This week I should be dropping 2 Episodes to catch up, fingers crossed things chill a little.
As the saying goes there is not enough time in the day!
These are some of the projects, I am currently filming / editing.
Esthetic Ants has perfected the message, I have also been trying to send, but I never thought of using a viral hashtag to make it happen! Top notch thinking, from a top notch bloke!
I too, had publicly called out my concerns, about this new trend of live feeding and how it is spiraling out of control, Questioning, what this brings to the hobby and how people from outside the hobby may look at us!?
Below is a post from my Facebook on the 6th of April after seeing this from Myrmidon Nation, which he posted on TikTok.
On the 2nd of May I went live with Ants Hood, I was going to make an episode calling out gimmick nests, gel farms, uncle Milton's, ant world, ant maze, Etc. they come under various different names and brands these days but the problems they create are the same, the thinking behind them is out dated, harmful and honestly disgusting in regards to animal welfare, the welfare and needs of the Ants are not considered in these nest designs.
Most of these types of nests, are not even designed to house a Queen, just wild collected workers, which alone is damaging to the eco system and the wild colony they are taken from, Ants provide an important role in our eco system management, taking them pointlessly, needlessly, not to be given a better life and kept as loving pets, but to die in horrific, torturous, nests that are pretty much ghetto work camps.
In the live stream I called for the message to be spread, for other content creators to take up the cause, to band together, to create a better world, higher standards & better husbandry practices when keeping Ants.
Esthetic Ants, answered that call perfectly taking on the whole cause, also being disgusted by what he has been seeing, shocked by how it is accepted, appalled at how people may view the hobby due to it.
On the 16th of May Esthetic went Live with this better version of the message and far superior live stream #goals!
On the 19th of may he summarised the movement #WEDONTAPPROVE.
Remember this is not a movement to spread hate, nobody wants to see people being bashed, the solution is easy, #WEDONTAPPROVE that is all you need to put, if you do not approve of the content your seeing, rather than being a troll, be reasonable, be responsible, be the change you want to see.
As we enter summer, the world is becoming green again.
I noticed the Hawthorn tree was flush with flowers, I also grabbed some blueberry bush leaves, an old favorite some brambles & something totally new to their diet, Sycamore (Acer pseudoplanatus) I made sure that the leaves were free from the fungal infection, Tar Spot (Rhytisma acerinum), this was fresh new growth from spring, its been a massive hit with the colony.
Check out this photo to reference what Tar Spot looks like, this is extremely harmful to the fungus of the leaf cutter colonies.
Image referenced from the blog of the Bug Woman.
Check that the leaves of the Sycamore tree are nice green and healthy, blanch them under hot water quickly then wash them under cold running water to remove any possibly contaminants or pesticides.
Its important to do this with any wild collected foliage.
Image credit David Cook / Alamy Stock Photo.
They have been cutting both the flowers & the leaf of the Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).
As only the leaves are available of the blueberry bush (Vaccinium), they have been taking the other leaf choices, their primary focus is on the Sycamore & Hawthorn.
Since offering the colony, the fungus has been showing lots of new growth, the temperatures have remained steady between 24°c / 25°c, I have been dealing with a bit of an airflow / condensation issue, hoping the new set up being manufactured by Custom Aquaria will be perfect for their needs!
More updates soon!
Ranging from £2.50 - £15 Per month - Please don't feel obligated to show your financial support, however your support will massively help the content, you will see where your money is going, you will be a part of the journey, you are supporting, I will be posting where & how I have spent your investment into the channel, on the colonies or into new equipment. Imagine watching the channel knowing everyone is enjoying 4K Macro footage because of your investment, Ants have taught me that alone, we can achieve, but together we can create, I have huge dreams i wont lie or sugar coat, they may be high in the clouds and reaching for the stars, I hope one day to open a mini zoo dedicated to Ants in the UK, that dream, could never be achieved by me alone, I need a colony behind me, think of the good we could achieve, conservation for ants, safe removal of colonies instead of eradication, helping to protect native species from invasive species.
I work very hard to bring you lots of awesome content, from day one, I have never expected anyone to help me along the way, I have had a few people offer me their support and other's suggest, they wish they had a way to support myself & the colonies, I've personally invested heavily into various hardware & software to bring you all this content, from ongoing website fee's to software costs for editing & producing the content, to hardware, such as new microphones, lighting, tripods, bipods, various other filming equipment.
I plan to buy so much more, a better camera to record, various lens to get macro footage, all to for the cause, all for the content, I hope you enjoy the content, as much as I enjoy making it
I stay up late at night when the kids are in bed, editing, if you would buy me a coffee to keep me going then check out the Solenopsis membership, cheaper than a coffee from Costa once a month!
For a while I have been searching for extra bonus's or products you could all benefit from as members, I have looked into 3rd party print on demand services, as well as Patreon's own Merch services, I want you all to feel inclusive of these possible options, so I will be periodically posting, options for people to vote and decide on, all members on memberships over £10 will receive an item to thank you for your support. You can all help me decide those Items.
I want to, continue to grow, will you join us, become a part of the colony, our journey, your support, can take this channel & content further than I can on my own, of course I will continue invest what I am able to into my content, over time I will get there.
I do believe in giving back, with some of the supporters funds raised, I will look at ways to bring you all competitions, products and so much more.
Your all amazing, your support of any kind is what matters to me, watching the content, commenting, liking the content, sharing it with your friends, joining me on the Facebook groups, or within discord chats, please don't feel you have to add financial support to that list to support the colonies and the content, I am grateful to you all, your all legendary & amazing!
For those who do chose to financially commit to the colonies, the content, the cause! the dream!
Then welcome to the heart of the colony, we will change the world & Ant keeping as we know it together!
Ants & The Colonialist