Ant Farms

hello

The minibeast adventure continues! And I am now in the process of adopting (yes, that is the term) two ant colonies. I figure that the best way to study insects is to observe REAL insects, so that is what we are going to do. And, once again, I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolic’s Monday Made It. This weekend I made two ant farms!

Monday Made It 1 (1)

I started with an ant farm kit. I was lucky enough to find that my school had an ant farm kit ready to use. So I constructed ant farm number one following the kit’s instructions.

things

Since I decided to get two ant colonies, I wanted to make the other ant farm a bit different. I am curious to see how they differ, both because the farm is constructed differently and because I have two different species of ants.

In order to make a homemade ant farm, you will need two jars or containers of different sizes (the smoother the sides the better), a hot glue gun, and something you can use to make holes in the lid of one of the jars. You will also need sand and soil. I ended up using plastic containers. They are a bit cloudier than glass, but were the perfect size. It was also easy to poke the holes in the lid, which was a huge plus for me!

Hot glue the bottom of the smaller containers inside the larger one. Be sure the lid is securely tightened on to the small container.

Using a nail or a drill (if you have a metal lid) poke small holes in to the lid of the large jar. Ensure that the holes are small so that the ants cannot crawl through them. Do not cover the holes with cloth, as ants could chew through it.

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Then, in a mixture of two parts soil to one part sand, mix up the ant farm’s dirt. Then fill the space between the two containers¬†with the mixture, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

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At this stage the ant farm is ready for ants. Once you have placed your ants into the farm, keep the lid sealed tightly to ensure that they do not crawl away. Voila! You need to keep the mixture moist once you add the ants.

I am looking forward to showing you the finished product, but I won’t have my ants until later this week. Because we are in the middle of the Australian winter, it is chilly and wet outside. I cannot seem to catch ants to save my life! So, I opted to purchase two colonies, complete with queens. That way my students can observe the full life cycle.

If you google how to get ants there are lots of options. However, I decided to support a project that is facilitating responsible ant keeping by promoting the keeping of local ant species. I do think it is important to be mindful of not introducing a foreign species to a region, as there could be an impact on the local ecosystem if the ants were to escape or were released. The Global Ant Nursery Project connects people interested in obtaining an ant colony with a local ant keeper. They were incredibly helpful, and I am looking forward to picking up my colonies later this week!

Have you ever had an ant farm? Did you build your farm, or purchase a kit? What type of ants did you keep?

Be sure to check out the rest of the great ideas this week on Monday Made It!

12 Responses to Ant Farms

  1. Kelly July 28, 2014 at 3:47 am #

    I bought an ant farm very similar to your first one, but I never used it. Now, I’m wishing I still had it. Thanks for giving the instructions for making your own, it didn’t look too hard.
    Kelly
    I’m Not Your Grandpa, I’m Your Teacher

  2. Elizabeth July 28, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Your students are going to love those ant farms!

    • Karen Langdon July 28, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      Thanks – we are all so excited about this unit!

  3. Amy Labraciano July 28, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    I love your ant farms! Very nice:)
    Take care, Amy

  4. Kathleen Wright July 28, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    Hello Teaching Ace! I had an ant farm when I was a kid and have thought about having one many times since. Thanks for the reminder and the resources listed. Maybe this is the year to bring them to school.
    Kathleen

    • Karen Langdon July 28, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      I can’t wait to see how the kids respond. Let me know if you decide to go for it this year. :)

  5. Carol Davis July 28, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    I have had an ant farm in my classroom in the past. It is quite fascinating. I need to check into starting a new one! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Carol

    • Karen Langdon July 28, 2014 at 9:07 am #

      Hi Carol! What kind of ants have you had? I am getting Iridomyrmex and Pheidole. We will have some “rainbow ants” and some “big headed ants.” I am sure they will both be exciting to watch!

  6. Charlotte July 28, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    How fun! What a great idea to get 2 that way students can compare and contrast!

    • Karen Langdon July 28, 2014 at 9:06 am #

      I am curious myself to see how things do compare!

  7. Katie July 28, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Your students are going to LOVE this!!!!!

    Katie
    Dirty Hands & Lesson Plans