Posts: 18,852 Country: England Pets: Ants, 1 Canary, 5 Finches, 2 dogs and 1 wife Favourite Ant: Formica rufa & Camponotus habereri I Like: Daleks, History and good movies. I Hate: Very spicy food and hot curry. I Am: A Senior Citizen Likes: 4,768
It isn't until you've kept ants for a long time in an artificial nest that you find out just how much rubbish comes out of an ant colony. For example, I use wet cotton wool placed in a plastic bottle cap for my ants to drink from, and when it gets damp to dry the ants seem to love to shred it up and carry it into the nest, or dump it in a midden area. If I'm lucky I can remove most of it with metal forceps, but for some unknown reason the ants in a midden seem to think they guard the rubbish and detritus with their lives, and will attack to keep it. Removing dead insect carcasses is a mission impossible too, unless they are brought out into an open midden; but even then you often have to run the gauntlet of angry ants trying to protect the nest.
I find early morning is the best time to try and clean out a midden, as the ants are less active. Do this task as quickly as possible and you won't get any escapes. Leaving it until later means warmer ants who can move at incredible speeds, so this means wearing my reading glasses for me as I need to keep a close eye on what my ants are doing when I open lids. Clean up jobs do need doing at least every 7 to 10 days in the warmer months, as otherwise the smell in an enclosed ant nest can get pretty bad, and the rotting insects can breed mites, although you as an ant keeper can not always prevent this from happening if you cannot get to the where your ants have placed all the crap that accumulates inside their nest.