Homemade Ant Farm - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 01:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Kids are studying ants right now, and I thought it would be cool to have an Ant farm, but really don't want to shell out $30 for one. Has anyone had any success with a homemade/less expensive way to do one?
TIA.

Mom to DD 7, DS 6, DD 4.5, DD 2.5, DS 1.5 and expecting DD4 anyday now. Planning my second : and ready for fun!
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#2 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 08:08 AM
 
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I've never done this, sounds interesting!

And you are welcome to come to my house and get the ants that seem to be invading my kitchen at the moment. :

Single (divorced), self-employed working, college student MOM to:

 

17 yr old

11 yr old 

 4 yr old

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#3 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 09:22 AM
 
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I think the trickiest part would be getting the queen. Without the queen, the other ants don't know what to do/don't have a purpose. Let me know if you find a solution,as we are in the same boat. We love ants and would like a farm, but just can't justify the expense of a kit.

"We think we're gliding down the highway when in fact we're slip sliding away." Paul Simon
DD-7 & B-G twins, 5
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#4 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 09:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaterBum View Post
I think the trickiest part would be getting the queen. Without the queen, the other ants don't know what to do/don't have a purpose. Let me know if you find a solution,as we are in the same boat. We love ants and would like a farm, but just can't justify the expense of a kit.
Actually, when you order the ants from the commercial kit companies, they don't come with queens either. I think the idea is, if you dump the ants and there's a queen with them, they could set up a colony and compete with the naturally occurring ants in your area (a problem if they're not the same kind), but without a queen they're not a threat to your local ecosystem.

They seem to do okay finding stuff to do without a queen, anyway. My favorite part was seeing how they handle dead ants. (I know that sounds morbid, but I had no idea they'd collect them and kind of make little graveyards!)

Lisa , mom to Isaac (9/1/03), Violet (6/19/06), Simon (10/9/09); wife to Eric ; handservant to Grace :
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#5 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 10:17 AM
 
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We have an ant farm right now. Target just had little bitty ones in their dollar bins. They are about 3 inches long, 2 inches tall and about half in wide. I also saw bigger ones in the toy section at Target in the National Geographic stuff, I think. They were about $15. We have 6 ants in ours that we collected in our backyard. Ants are tricky buggars to catch. They are quick!! They are busy little things and have tunneled all over the container. I think I watch them more than DS. It is very cool. I would be interested to know how to make the gel stuff or any kind of medium for them.

Amanda
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#6 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 10:34 AM
 
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I had Uncle Milton's as a kid. I think you can do it in a mason jar too, but you won't see as much since it's not flat. Maybe a liquer bottle that is kind of flat would work better. There would need to be some air space. We have fire ants here, so I won't be trying to catch them.
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#7 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 12:03 PM
 
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I think you could cut 1 x 1 wood, nail together to make a frame. Then get two pieces of glass the same size (so aim the outside size of the frame to be a standard glass size like 8 x 10). Then tape glass on one side, fill loosely with dirt, somehow add ants and get the other glass taped on the other side. Oh, how about drilling a hole in the frame that you could stick a straw in. You could use the straw to transfer the ants from whatever container you catch them in to the ant farm after the ant farm is all assembled and filled with dirt. Then you could cover the hole with something so they don't get out and use the hole to feed them.

Plexiglass would be better in case it gets dropped, but it costs more.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#8 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 12:36 PM
 
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I just googled "make your own ant farm" (quite a few links there!), and a number of sites suggested using two jars, with one that fits inside the other, and putting the sand/dirt/ants in between the jars so that the ants are more likely to build tunnels against the outside where you can see them.

Lisa , mom to Isaac (9/1/03), Violet (6/19/06), Simon (10/9/09); wife to Eric ; handservant to Grace :
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#9 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 01:07 PM
 
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Go to the library and get "The Amateur Naturalist" by Lawrence Durrell. It is a great science resource for kids, and it has directions for making a great ant farm, using no dirt. Instead you make a mold out of plasticine clay and make the farm out of plaster, so you can really see the ants when the cover is off. There are lots of other neat insect experiments too.

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
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#10 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 01:38 PM
 
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i read someplace a long time ago about a way to make a really neat ant farm where you take two jars one thinner than the other and place the thinner inside so that there is only a thin wall of dirt for the ants to make tunnels in. i also remember reading that if you can collect the ants locally and get a queen the colony will last a really long time since they will be able to reproduce. i have never had an ant farm though and like others said probably google is the way to go to find the best information.

now i really want an ant farm i think i will wait until my son is older and can enjoy it with me more.

mama to two amazing children son 10/27/07 and daughter 07/07/11

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#11 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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Here are some ant farms one is only 11- we have the blue gel one on the bottom its AWERSOME its the second one we have bought because it is so cool to watch you can also buy harvester ants online for only 5.95 incudling shipping let me know if you want the link to the company we just bought our ants from it only took 4 days to get here and they live 3 months

Betsy, Mommy to DS (10) DD (4) DS (2) and DS (1)
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#12 of 12 Old 05-08-2009, 04:26 PM
 
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We always used mayonaise jars as kids. I love the idea of the one jar inside the other.
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