How to build you’re own ant farm:
Spring is here, and with the change in weather many of us are finding that we had better make sure to clean up extra well or we might find a surprise the next morning on the dining table; ANTS. But spring is also an opportunity to get outside and start new projects, and while you’re at it, turn these little critters from pests to pets…in a sense.
First you will need all this equipment, most of it you can probably find laying around your house.
- Thin pieces of wood cut to lenghts of about 6 to 10 inches (or longer depending on how big you want your ant farm to be.
- Glass taken from an old picture frame
- Clear Shower Calking
- Drill and drill bits
- Small wood screws
- Cardboard or plywood (or another piece of glass)
- Seedlings (optional)
First you’ll need to make the frame for your farm. These pieces of wood are about 2inches by 1inch so I turned them sideways so that I could put the thin parts together. The first step is to mark out how thin you want the space for the ants to work in to be. You’ll want it pretty thin so that you can see them as they dig.
After you’ve decided that, mark where you want the glass to sit on the bottom piece of wood. Then use a knife or screwdriver to notch along that line just large enough to be able to slide the piece of glass long ways into the wood for stability. Then use the caulking to secure the glass in place in the wood. You can use glue but I prefer the nice finish clear caulking gives.
Then find your piece of cardboard or ply wood and place the glass and the bottom piece of wood against it. This will be the back of the farm. If you want a farm that you can see from both sides then use another piece of glass. Make sure your plywood is cut to the right size and then place the side pieces of wood on either side of the glass and caulk the edges to the glass. You may need to place a rock or something roughly the size of the space between the glass and the plywood under the edge of the glass to keep its shape while the caulking dries. Then use the screws to secure the wood to keep the farm from falling apart. Depending on where you want to display your farm you can build legs from wood as well or secure it to something else with screws.
Next is the dirt. Try and find dirt that is similar to the kind of dirt that you will find your ants in as well. Don’t get dirt with too many clumps in it as the finer the dirt is the more obvious the tunnels will be that your ants create.
If you’re like me then you may want to add some plants for a more realistic, or at least more scenic environment. I found some weeds growing in my garden and transplanted a few of them into my farm. The roots end up looking cool as well.
Now it’s time for the finally, ANTS. Now if you look hard enough you can usually find an ant mound or perhaps a colony of ants living under a rock or a piece of wood. You can try and collect them by hand but depending on the species this can range from simply difficult to painful. Not to mention you usually end up killing more ants that collecting, and the ones you do collect end up pretty damaged.
My prefered method is to make the ants come to me. Again depending on the species of any this will be more or less effective but with most ants, they are attracted to sweets and oils, especially animal fats. I create a lid out of wood and I caulk the sides to create a seal over the glass but I make sure to let it dry while off so that I can take it on or off. Then I cut a small hole in the lid, or I choose a piece of wood with a knot whole in it. Then take a long piece of wire and bend it so that you can stick it down into the dirt in your farm on one end, and then make an upside down ‘u’ shape that ends in the dirt outside the farm, near a place you there ants frequent.
I cooked some bacon that day and took a small piece of bacon and left it in the oil for a bit. Then I cut it in half, placing one piece at the base of the wife outside of the farm and the other piece at the base of the wire inside the farm. Then I took the eyedropper, sucked up some grease, and dribbled it all along the wire, creating a kind of trail of grease. (I also use the eyedropper to add water to the plants.) Then I make sure everything is secure and I leave.
The next day, check your ant farm, if you’ve placed it close enough to an ant source you should find a trail of ants going to and fro along the wire, and tons in your farm working on harvesting the bacon and digging all through your dirt.