A picture is worth 1000 words:
- Fill a test tube about 1/2 full with water.
- Plunge cotton into the water until it is wet but not soggy.
- Seal the queen in with a dry cotton plug.
The genius of the test tube nest- aside from being cheap and easy- is the moisture gradient. Wet at one end, dry at the other. Most captive ant problems stem from either too much or too little moisture, and the test tube nest allows a queen ant to choose her optimal level.
This particular queen is a thief ant, Solenopsis molesta. I collected several of these in the evening after a drenching midsummer rain. As the first workers of this species are raised from the queen’s body reserves, the young colony will not require food until workers emerge.