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!
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.
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.
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.
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!