Collectin ants is interesting , but requires patience, steadyness and knowledge of ants. It consists of 3 main parts:
- Garhering: It can be done anywhere where ants are present. It consists of catching an ant and putting it in ethanol, so that they can be later identified and added to the collection. Ants can be gathered on any intuitive way (by hand, tweezer or "Sciala") ot using ant-traps. As a trap can be used a simple funnel, by putting its exit in a cup full of ethanol. When putting litter in the funnel all the invertebrates fall in the cup (you should cover the funnel so that they can't exape). On this way a specific medium can be studied. When collecting ants from a swarming nest or from a dimorphic or variable species, all kinds of castes and varieties should be gathered.
- Identifying:identifying ants requires mostly knowledge on teh external anatomy of ants. It should be done by using the identifying tables, which can be found in many books about ants (f.e. "The Ants" by Bert Hoelldobler and Edward O. Wilson where information on identifying genus (but not species) can be found). To identify ants a device (binocular) capable of enlargement from 10X to 500X. A simple microscope with minimal enlargement of about 50X, if it is reconstructed so that the light falls not under, but on the ant, can also be used for this purpose.
- Collecting:The gathered and identified ants can be added to the collection, only after they are glued on a piece of cardboard, which is pinned with a pin (explained later on this page), and are descibed. The collectin should be stored in a box, which can be closed tightly. A pice of stereophore should be glued on its bottom, so that pins can be pinned in it. In contrast to other insects, ants can't be pinned on a pin (due to their small size) ot be glued on their under side (since there are many important signs for their identification). That is thy ants should be glued on the tip of a middle thick piece of cardboard with the following form::. So that all important signs are visible, ants should be glued on their back coxas using glue (special glue ot C-200). The piece of cardboard and the ant glued on it, should be pinned with a pin (entomologic, if available) in the place showed with a point on the figure. 3 leaflets with size 18X8 mm, containing mostly information about the ant's habitat should be added. The information, contained on the 1-st leaflet: country, city, where exactly is gathered the ant (longitude and latitude), altitude, when it is gathered, who gathered it. 2-nd leaflet: information about the habitat (forest or meadow; vegetation), manner of gathering (traps, by hand...). 3-rd leaflet: latin name of the species, when it is identified, who identified it. The so-created specimen should be pinned in the stereophore in the box.
A photo of Messor structor from my collection without leaflets: