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Make an ant farm

Filed Under: backyard science, kids, nature

ant close-upMy two sons love ants. Like most children, and the lucky adults who still manage to see real wonder in things, they find these tiny insects fascinating. They enjoy learning about the ant colony's structure, talking about their incredible strength, and the perfect efficiencies in their work.

You don't have to stand over that sand hill on your driveway to study ants in their environment. The best way to watch ants in a controlled way is to make your own ant farm. You'll need the following materials:
  • 1 quart or larger clear glass jar
  • 1 8 – 10 inch pie plate
  • 1 2 inch deep pan, larger than the pie pan, to hold water
  • Soil
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Water
  • Ants
After the break I'll explain some important considerations in creating the ant farm.

These instructions for making your own ant farm seem to be the most simple and humane way to create a controlled but natural environment where we can learn about the ants without disturbing them too much. You'll want to collect about 100 ants to start your farm.

The ants won't cross the moat to gather food, so under your care, it will be your responsibility to ensure their proper nourishment. They will need water once every three days and food once a week. Bits of fruit, cheese, meat, and bread all make great ant food (which explains why they crash our picnics!). If you are working with children, have them draw up a feeding chart where they can track what was given at what time.

This is just one of the many backyard science experiments you can try out this summer. Keep checking us out for more wonderful ways to explore the outdoors and learn more about the world around us.


  • randi

    Did you know that you can buy larger ant farm ants at sites like this one Sometimes you are ready to make your own ant farm like in this article, but then the ants are no where to be found! This solves the issue. :-)

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