I Bought a Forest to Create a Paradise for Ants
The ant nest of the Meranoplus bicolor ants here was not actually found in my yard, but just next door in the neighbouring yard. Now this neighbouring yard was vacant, and upon exploring its more forested areas, I was surprised to discover that it actually had some really unique habitat and microclimates, that were different from our current Ant House yard of Antopia, and furthermore to my surprise, I also noticed a tonne of different ant species were living there that I didn’t recognize. It was almost like a new sister dimension of Antopia, that was waiting with its own set of secrets and ants for us to discover. Now it’s a big rule of thumb that ant keepers shouldn’t be anting on private property, and in fact biologists usually need to acquire permits when studying or collecting ants on private and even public property. Such laws also apply to ant keepers like us, and though nobody
owned this very lush land full of trees, plants, and strange ants, it still didn’t feel right for me to be on that vast vacant lot, filming the Meranoplus bicolor nest, collecting a newly mated queen if I ever found one there, or wandering the property in search of new ant species. But getting a permit seemed like such a hassle, so I stopped to think for a moment and the craziest thing occurred to me. AC Family, I think you’ll love what I have to say next. So after checking the subscriber count this week, I realized that our next episode needed to be big and ultimately celebratory, because we would be hitting our big 4 million subscribers milestone any day now, if we haven’t already by the time you all are watching this video. Our 4M Subs episode needed to top all our past subscriber milestone videos, because you guys are currently the biggest and best ant-loving community you’ve ever been, and I felt you guys deserved something truly big. And so AC Family, after thinking about it for a long while, and the prospect of us possibly finding a brand new ant species somewhere in that lush, ant-filled forest of the new lot taunting my imagination, a totally crazy idea came to me that I think you guys would truly love. This next major event on the channel was going to be epic and truly kick this ongoing tale of Antopia up a notch.
Please SUBSCRIBE to the channel and hit the BELL icon. Welcome to the AC Family! Enjoy! Guys, this is our biggest, most ambitious project yet! In celebration of us hitting the big 4 million subscribers this week, I’ve gone ahead and purchased what is essentially an incredible, untouched virgin forest, full of the craziest ants, creatures, and plant life I’ve ever seen in my life! I’ve already spotted so many unfamiliar and incredible ant species in this new forest of ours, which I’ll be showing you in a little bit, all of which give me great hope that one day, AC Family, we’ll actually discover a brand new ant species, never before documented by scientists, a dream of mine for us here on the channel. But guys, I can’t wait to show you our brand new AC Forest, especially the coolest location I found in the very heart of our forest, which I’m certain will blow you away. I’ll also be revealing
my ultimate plans for this natural land, as well as yet another bigger plot twist, a certain secret that I’ve decided to finally share with you on this special day we celebrate 4M subs! All of this coming up in this episode! But now, let’s explore our new forest, shall we? I have found that our new plot of land here is made up of three primary regions, each of which offers different types of habitat, hosting its own unique set of wild life, including ants. I’ll be touring you through each of the three regions, as well as showing you guys the really cool and unique ants, I found living in them, and had sent to the laboratory for identification, just to see if maybe we stumbled across a new ant species. Let’s start here at the first region, the forest edge. Fronting the forest is an expansive yet very lush and flat field, home to a tonne of grasses, plants, and shrubs. This habitat here is pretty much the same as that in Antopia, our initial lot and yard of our Ant House under construction, but it’s untouched.
Antopia, by the way, if you’re new, real quick, is the name we gave to the yard of our future Ant House, a home we’re building to house the various current and future pet ant colonies, arachnids, reptiles, and amphibians on the channel. It’s an upgrade from the current Ant Room, in which I’ve been keeping our ants for years, as the new Ant Room 2.0 at the Ant House will be nearly 20 times larger space wise, hi-tech, and climate controlled. For those asking for an
update on the Ant House, they’re now working on the third floor/roof deck, as well as the second floor of the Ant Room, and we’re scheduled to finally move into the Ant House later this year. How I actually plan on moving the massive ant tanks with the millions of ants living inside them is still something I need to figure out, and I know it’s not going to be easy, but anyway be sure to SUBSCRIBE to the channel if you aren’t already, to be part of that whole adventure! So this forest edge region happens to be home to our beautiful newly geographically discovered ants, Meranoplus bicolor, which we already covered in last week’s episode, so I won’t spend too much time here, but before we move on, I’ve been meaning to give this forest edge region a name. Let me know your name suggestions in the comments, and I’ll choose my top 5 favourites for us to vote on in a future video. Alright AC Family, let’s wander deeper, into the next region of our forest! Guys, welcome to the forest ravine! Now what an amazing habitat this is. Have a look! Here the land slopes downward offering some amazing topography for a tonne of life to flourish. The air in this region is different from that of the forest edge. Here less wind
penetrates through, so the air is more still. Due to the thicker vegetation, it’s much cooler here, and a bit more shadowy. Because of this very prime habitat, the plant life here in the forest ravine is incredible! Trees, shrubs, and vines grow in thick walls throughout the region, and it’s here where I found some pretty amazing ants! Check them out! First, I happened to stumble across these gorgeous black and silverish ants crawling through the trees and along plants. I was familiar with the genus. These were Polyrhachis ants, an arboreal species that create nests out of mud. Now there are approximately 500 or so described species of Polyrhachis, so I wasn’t familiar with what exact species this was, but I did make sure to collect a specimen to send to my ant taxonomist friend and biologist Dr. General. He ended up identifying this ant
as Polyrhachis saevissima, so not an undiscovered species nor a new geographic record like our Meranoplus bicolor, but still super cool knowing they were living in this part of our forest. Also, living in this forest ravine was another ant I’d never seen before. Have a look at these ants. They were really small black ants, crawling along vines and sticks of the ravine, and I noticed them slipping in and out of very inconspicuous holes in the twigs. At each hole,
were guards keeping watch at every opening, which marked the entrances to their nests within the wood. I think I even saw the ants had little bits of plant material or wood dust in their mandibles. What an interesting species, whatever it was. Dr. General identified them in a video I sent him as ants belonging to the genus Crematogaster, which made sense, as their heart-shaped gasters which they could hold over their heads is very characteristic of the genus, but he said he needed to examine specimens further to determine the exact species, so I collected a few ants to send to his lab. Could this ant be an undiscovered species of Crematogaster, which we
could call Crematogaster acfamilius, or perhaps a first geographical record again? The prospect made me excited, of course, and I’ll be sure to let you know what Dr. General says, but it just comes to show you just how abundant and uniquely biodiverse this awesome region of our forest is. So, guys what should we name this part of our forest? Leave your names suggestions for our forest ravine in the comments, and I’ll choose my top 5 favourites for us to vote on in a future video.
Alright, now AC Family, let’s move on further to what has to be the coolest and in my opinion the most magical part of our new forest. AC Family, behold this amazing passage cutting right through the heart of our forest. This habitat was by far my favourite to discover, as it looked right out of a scene from Lord of the Rings! It’s essentially a natural pathway, cut out by a seasonal shallow creek.
During the rainiest months, a shallow creek runs through here, but for the rest of the year, it’s a dried up bridle-path with a cobblestone floor of natural river stones and even a gorgeous carpet of the coolest leaves that resemble blue-green maple leaves! How cool is that? Was this a sign from the forest sprites that this forest was meant for us? I’d say so. The habitat was truly mystical here, with the most exotic of flowers, plants, and fungi. Vines formed gorgeous archways overhead. Here in this part of our forest, streams of light beamed through the trees towering above, making for a very interesting habitat: not too hot or breezy like at the forest edge, but not quite as cool and still as the ravine. It also
was the most humid part of our forest, and home to one of the strangest-looking ants, I’ve ever seen. AC Family, check this out! While searching along the path, crawling along one of the trees at the edge of the path was this ant. Look! These strange ants kinda reminded me of fire ants, only they were bigger, bumpier, hairier, and had this strange knuckle-looking waist segment that caused their gaster to sort of point downwards. I couldn’t even identify the genus, I had never seen an ant so odd. It didn’t look too friendly, and I had no idea if they could sting me, so I was careful when collecting a specimen for identifying in the lab. Can any of you ant experts out there pin a genus for this ant? Anyway, I will also be sending this truly exotic ant to Dr. General to identify,
again crossing my fingers and hoping we discovered something new. Anyway, what do you guys think of this part of our forest? AC Family, what should we name this awesome season creek pathway habitat? Make it a good one and leave your name suggestions in the comments, and again I’ll choose my top 5 favourite for us to vote on in a future video. Pretty neat right how our new land has three very different profiles habitat-wise. I think we’ve barely even scratched the surface regarding all the secrets Mother Nature has hiding for us to discover in all parts of our new forest. And now, AC Family, to reveal my plans for this truly, amazing chunk of nature and all its life, ants, and creatures within it.
So guys, today marks the start of a multi-year journey to create the very first Ant Nature Reserve, essentially a 'Paradise for Ants'. Basically, I want to further forest this land by planting more trees, shrubs, etc to further support these three main regions of prime ant real estate. Normally, this plot of virgin land would have been sold to someone with the intentions of building a house and garden onto it. But now that this land was ours, instead of having to clear cut all the trees, shrubs, and rich habitat valuable to the ant colonies living on it, I wanted to instead allow everything to continue growing, and to plant more plants and trees in the area, to encourage the native ant population to move in and treat our forest as their refuge and safe haven. I won’t be using pesticides here, and if I ever need to clear anything away, it will be to create easier access through our forest here, because I don’t want to be wandering waist deep in vegetation either, as I have spitting cobras and reticulated pythons living in my area, and I don’t want to have to run into them by surprise.
I kind of value my eyesight and my life, so I’m sure that would be a good compromise. I realize this Ant Reserve and Conservation area, would be a long term project for me, but as long as I have all of you joining along for the ride, learning with me, helping me make decisions along the way, and supporting the ants from afar, I’m certain only good can come out of this very ambitious mission. According to some accounts, around half of the world's original forests have disappeared, and they are still being removed at a rate 10x higher than any possible level of regrowth. As tropical forests contain at least half the Earth's species, the clearance of some 17
million hectares each year is a truly dramatic and heart-breaking loss. In light of all the amazing things we’ve already discovered in just our little 4.3 thousand square meter plot of forest that makes up our new Antopia, can you imagine the abundance and richness of life that exists in the world’s forests? All the undiscovered species of not only ants but plants, trees, flowers, fungi, birds, reptiles, and other insects, all hidden within the various natural paradises of the world. Later this month, the United Nations has declared the 21st to be the International Day of Forests, and by creating our new Ant Reserve, our Paradise for Ants here, we will be helping by doing our part at saving the world’s forests and forest life.
In fact, I mentioned at the start of the video that I was going to reveal a secret I’ve been keeping from you, and that’s this. Aside from this new forest of ours, I also went ahead and purchased a whopping 82 more acres of unoccupied land several miles away out in remote landscape, far away from any city. That’s about 62 football fields worth of rolling hills, some of which is agricultural farmland, but the rest of which is wild undeveloped land. I did this,
so I could work with and empower the community of farmers currently living off the land to help make the conversion of their crops over to organic farming. I’ve also been studying on the side, over the past two years about permaculture and sustainable farming practices, that I hope to apply there. With the wild part of the land, I want to do the exact same thing we are doing right here with our new forest: further support and forest the land, to create more wild habitat, creating an even bigger Paradise for Ants and nature reserve/conservation park for all things wild living there. Anything that I find works successfully here in our new smaller Antopian
forest, I’ll definitely try applying on a larger scale on our 82 acre plot of land, which I’m sure has got to have some undocumented ant species, just waiting to be discovered somewhere on the land! I’ll definitely take you guys to this 82 acre plot of land one day soon, and I won’t stop looking until we discover a new species, or a hundred! You know, it’s funny, I never in a million years thought my little, nerdy hobby of ant keeping would one day grow to become something more. Funny how building ant terrariums, learning about plants, and studying soil, water and nutrient cycles in terrariums, would be my training wheels to do what are essentially the exact same things, but on a more macro level with these new conservation projects. It’s all taught me that if you really love something in your heart, even if it’s something as silly as ants, it’s a sign that you've got to follow it. It just might be your life calling. One thing’s for sure though, none of this could have ever happened if you, the AC Family, didn’t keep watching my ant videos, supporting the ants store at AntsCanada.com, and just allowing these amazing insects into your lives over the years. It’s almost
inconceivable to me that over 4 million of you have chosen to give ants a chance, and not see them as pests, but rather, in a lot of ways, like little versions of us. Thank you, AC Family! As your Creator of Worlds, I promise to keep showing you the magnificence of our six-legged insect friends, whose very presence, life on the planet has depended on for geological eras. Thank you for watching, and supporting the ants. It’s ant love FOUR ever! Now one scene did concern me, though. At one of the trees at the ravine, I noticed a mob creating a commotion. It was a colony of black crazy ants, rallying menacingly around another ant that they were holding hostage. The black crazy ants had seized a big-headed ant which tried unsuccessfully to break free. This
was an Invasive Ant species in the process of dismembering and killing a native ant species. It was not good. The invasive ants had already begun to creep into our forest to wreak havoc. AC Family, it was now time for us to initiate Phase 1 of Operation Ant Paradise, and help stop this encroaching invasive ant threat to our forest. AC Family, what do you think of our new ant plans? We officially start our plans for Operation Ant Paradise in our next episode. So if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?
Come be a part of the exciting ant journey ahead, and SMASH that SUBSCRIBE button and BELL ICON now, and hit ALL, so you get notified at every upload. Also don’t forget to hit the LIKE button every single time including now. It would really mean a lot to me, guys. Thank you! AC Inner Colony, I have left a hidden cookie for you here, if you would like to watch random scenes of the ants in our new forest! Go check them out! And guys, be sure to visit AntsCanada.com for all your ant keeping and collecting gear shipped to you in a special package from our ant-loving facility in the USA, so you can get the most out of your ant keeping experience. We ship worldwide and also offer full email support if you need our help! We also have a helpful forum and ant colony trading marketplace on the site. Visit AntsCanada.com today.
And now it’s time for the AC Question of the Week. Last week, we asked: Why was it assuring to see that the mystery ants were eating fire ants? Congratulations to Corey Mattox who answered: It was good to see them hunting fire ants because fire ants are invasive. Congratulations Corey, you just won a free Ultimate Ant Keeping Handbook from our shop! In this week’s AC Question of the Week we ask: Which was your favourite region of our new forest and why? Leave your answer in the comments section and you could also win a free Ultimate Ant Keeping Handbook from our shop! Hope you could 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!