Archive for category Ant Farm Articles

Where to Get a Queen Ant

How to obtain a Queen Ant for an Ant Colony.

I have gotten a lot of requests from people wanting Queens for their ant farms and from people wanting entire ant colonies. I decided to do a bit of research to see what I could come up with and here’s what I found out:

Dig one up yourself:

The process I use is to locate a less developed nest (smaller).

You should try to do it in early spring when the sun has warmed the soil and the queen will be closer to the surface as it gets closer to spring. Take a shovel, buckets, and covers for the buckets to site of nest during mid to late day.

Next, cut a circle around the ant hill, about the size of a bucket or smaller if possible. Don’t pull up the section until you have made your entire circular cut. When you’re ready, lift the section out of ground and place it in first bucket. Then, while the nest is disturbed and the ants are freaking out, dig the rest of the soil up, following the chambers and tunnels until the number of ants are become more scarce or your bucket(s) are full.

Now, take the bucket(s) home and start sorting through them, using a spoon to collect the workers, pupae, larvae and eggs while looking for the queen(s). Once you got the queen, then you can decide whether to keep sorting to obtain more workers and eggs.


Ant Farms – The Fun For Your Children

If you are looking for a small pet to begin your children with responsibility, an ant farm could be the perfect option for you. There are many ways that your children could benefit from an ant farm, but you must first understand exactly what they are.

An ant farm is almost exactly what it sounds like. Originally, ant farms were developed with two pieces of glass and dirt in between them for the ants. This has now developed into larger ant farms with tunnels and stable ecosystems for the ants. There are many different types of ant farms that are currently out on the market. The most popular type of ant farm is the kind where you set it up yourself. Although this may not sound like a great idea, this could be a learning step for your children to take part in.

The ant farms that you can set up yourself come with all the essentials that you will need to set up the farm, as well as maintaining the ants inside it. There are many different brands that are currently available that give you many options for your children. One fo the best things about the ant farms that are currently available for children is that they are three dimensional. This means that your children will be able to quietly sit for hours watching the ants going through the many tunnels that are included in the kit. This is one of the quietest gifts that you could get for your gift. This pet could help your children learn responsibility because they will still be required to water and feed the ants on a daily basis.

In the ant farm kits, they have how-to guides on taking care of your first ant farm. In the guides, they explain how many times to water and feed your ants daily; they also explain how to do this and what you should use for their homes. They also have a guide for setting up your ant farm in the beginning, so your children can practically do it themselves. These ant farms can be a great source of entertainment for your children because of all that you can watch while the ants are building their homes. It can also provide a sense of accomplishment when they are able to feed and water the ants without your help.


What Can Kids Learn From an Ant Farm?

In case you didn’t know, an ant farm is an artificial nest of ants in which you and your kids can observe the activities of a collection of worker ants as they dig tunnels and chambers and interact with each other. They’ve been around for years, mainly as home-made efforts of glass and wood. Now, however the ant farm has taken a leap into the twenty-first century with the introduction of NASA-inspired gel ant farms. These use a transparent nutrient gel instead of sand as the medium through which the ants burrow. It makes them much easier to watch and much easier to keep too.

Free Will

So what can we learn as we watch our ants? Well, on the whole, insect behaviour is one of stimulus-response and very little else. The environment provides some sort of stimulus and the insect responds to it in a certain way. There’s very little free will associated with insect behaviour. It’s thought that the average worker ant has about 100 neurons in its nervous system. With that small number there’s very little capacity available for proper cognitive thinking. In fact it is remarkable that ants are capable of showing the wide range of responsive behaviour that they do.


If you watch closely, you’ll see individual ants interacting with each other. They’ll touch feelers (or antennae) in an attempt (we believe) of trying to identify each other. Ants have very poor eyesight, their compound eyes have between twenty and thirty individual lenses (or ommatidia as they are called) and the optical resolution is probably low, to say the least. Most of ant communication is via scent. They lay scent trails for others to follow when they find a food source. That’s how an orange dropped on a pavement can become surrounded by ants in a few minutes. The ant that originally finds the orange will make its way back to the nest, leaving a scent trail that will lead it and its colleagues back to the orange. Quite how the original ant communicates the message ‘food’ to the others is still unclear. It’s possible that different scents mean different things or that there’s just one scent, and that means ‘food’.


We do know that ants are able to make sounds, although you’ll never be able to hear them. There have been examples of ants in ant farms becoming trapped in various ways, just as would happen in a natural nest, and being rescued by other ants. We assume that the distressed ant is emitting a ‘help’ sound that the other can hear and respond to. Again with only 100 neurons to play with, this is remarkable complex behavior.

A Great Gift

These are just two of the behaviours you’ll be able to see in your ant farm. You’ll also see some wonderful examples of cooperative behaviour. It all makes an ant farm one of the most interesting gift you can give a child, and one that might set them off on a journey of discovery that, hopefully, will never end.


How Do Ants Behave in an Ant Farm?

An ant farm is designed to replicate much of the natural environment that ants normally occupy. But there are numerous differences between being sandwiched between a couple of sheets of plastic and living in a natural underground nest.

What Sort of Ants?

The ants that you’ll probably have in your farm will almost certainly be Western Harvesters, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis. This species is found over much of continental North America although it tends to prefer drier (or, in bio-speak, xeric) areas. It therefore predominates in the western parts of the continent.

Nest Size

They are normally found in nests of 8000-12000 individuals. These are divided up into various castes; workers (about 90%), soldiers (about 8%) with the remainder being drones and, of course the queen. In an ant farm you’ll probably have about 25 workers. Now, it’s not clear what effect the absences of a queen has on the workers. We do know that the activities of the worker ants are mediated through the effect of hormones released by the queen. There’s no observable difference in behavior when the worker ants have no queen to minister to, and no hormones to respond to, but of course we have no idea what they are thinking.

Thinking Ants

Which brings us to the next question – do worker ants think at all? All the available evidence suggests that these creatures have about one hundred neurons in their nervous systems. With a complement of 100 brain cells, it seems that most of ant behavior is ‘hard-wired’ that is, any behavior we observe is the response to external stimuli, rather than the result of any conscious thinking behavior (or ratiocination). So it’s very likely that your inmates will be unaware of any difference between a natural nest and the ant farm in which they find themselves. The very fact that your Western Harvesters create and maintain their tunnels just as they would in nature should give you confidence that your ants are happy and content.

Life Span

How long will your ants live? Now, as you’ll appreciate, it’s not at all easy to track an individual worker ant in the wild over the period of its natural life and any estimates of natural worker ant life-length need to be taken with caution. But it’s thought that average life-length is about 100 days. But that is in the absence of predation. In the wild very few worker ants will live that long. It’s a tough place out there, and every ant has to struggle for its life against birds and other predators every day. Your ants, in their cozy ant farm, may well live out their lives in peace and tranquility so, as far as we can say, you have no need to fear for their comfort. It’s not natural but natural isn’t always best when natural means a daily battle for survival.


What is an Ant Farm?

Ant farms are simulated ant colonies used to observe ant’s natural behaviors.

The organizations of ants have always fascinated people, the social aspects and hierarchy of the colonies. Ant farms are constructed for the purpose of learning about ant and or research of ants; they are also made for cool displays for your desk. For whatever reason, they offer a great window view of the complex life of ants.

Ant farms come in various shapes and sizes. Most of the time, glass is used for the sides and top of the ant farm for visibility purposes. Keep in mind, there are several species of ants and some you should avoid when population your ant farm. Be sure to avoid potentially harmful ants such as fire ants. We do not want anyone to experience a painful ant bite.

Most ant farms come with a certificate for a batch of mail order ants to populate your farm. You may also attempt to collect your own ants by using bait such as maple syrup in your own yard. It is almost impossible to collect your own queen and broods; this is the benefit of ordering them. You should use sand or composite depending on the color of your ants for visibility purposes. Make sure the sand is dampened before adding the ants so they can easily make tunnels.

You can feed your ant colony food particles, sweet syrups, honey, or dead insects. Ants rarely die because of lack of food, but water is vital to their survival. Your ant farm should be kept away from the sun and be moist at all times.

Make sure you do not keep your ant farm too moist or flood it with water. Also, make sure you keep the top on the farm so the ants cannot escape. You should take the lid off once a day to allow air flow into your ant farm. If your farm does not have a top, you should smear petroleum jelly around the perimeter to prevent the ants from getting loose.

If taken care of properly, your ant farm can supply enjoyment and education for years to come. Check out our Ant Farms for Kids collection.