Healthy colonies are always hungry. They accept food anytime, and will eat almost anything rich in protein.
Below I track the progress of a colony from founding to the production of the first alates.
T+3.5 weeks. First nanitics emerge.
T+4.5 weeks. More nanitics emerge. Start to feed/forage.
T+ 6 weeks, A sizeable brood has built up.
T+8 weeks. Brood continues to pile up. Couple of hundred workers. First supermajors emerge.
T+12 weeks. Plenty of supermajors and brood. Rapid expansion of nest.
T+20 weeks. Multiple brood piles and fairly large nest. Thousands of workers. First alates being procured.
I feed: Mealworms, superworms, crickets, dubia roaches, red runners, small frogs, Lizards, cooked egg, fried chicken meat, termites, cheesecake, Chia seeds, almonds, other ant alates.
When feeding feeder insects, they key is to gut load them with high protein diets. I prepare and feed all of my feeders an in-house bend of oatmeal, soy protein, Chia seeds, flex seeds, bee pollen, walnuts, and red dates. The feeders are always plump and healthy looking, and the ants never get tired of them.
Just be sure to get your food from reputable sources and also check to ensure that food is mite-free.
Live or pre-killed? Large colonies can easily take down small prey such as mealworms, superworms, or even dubia cockroaches. However, the author prefers to pre-kill and cut up food items for his colonies. Aside from a personal preference, he has found that larger crickets and roaches are able to injure or even kill tens of not hundreds of minors before they are finally subduded. They “fighting” can even cause the outworld terrain to be substantially altered.
Some pictures and videos of their typical hungry swarming behaviour:
Testament to their explosive growth: the author’s own setup of a single queen colony grew from 1 single AAC nest to 7 nests/outworlds between Jan 2018 and end-April 2018.
A peek inside the author’s large colony on YouTube (filmed by Singapore Ants): https://youtu.be/41bfizqg9ag