YOU (South Africa)
Make your own ant farm
Ants are masters when it comes to digging tunnels – and they’re brilliant at teamwork. Create your own ant farm so you can watch these tiny insects build an underground city
YOU’VE probably seen ants carrying bits of food or crumbs in your house or garden. You might have wondered where they’re taking them, where ants live and what they do there. You can find the answers to all those questions by making your own ant farm to observe these tiny insects’ behaviour.
Screw the lid onto the smaller jar and place it in the bigger jar. The smaller jar takes up space so that it forces the ants to build their tunnels close to the inside of the larger jar so you can see them better. Then go out hunting for ants. Look out for an anthill – it’ll be a volcano-shaped heap of sand with a hole in the middle.
Gather some soil and use your spoon to fill the big jar up to about three-quarters full.
Ask and adult to help you poke a bunch of holes in the larger jar’s lid with the knife. The holes need to be tiny so the ants can’t get out, but the holes are needed so the ants can have air.
Pick up 15-20 ants with the spoon and transfer them to the soil in your jar. Instead of throwing in a lot of ants at one time, try to pick them up one by one – that way you’re less likely to hurt them.
Before closing the lid use the kebab skewer to poke a few holes in the soil in your jar. Poke the holes as close as possible to the sides of the large jar. The ants will tunnel there and if it’s close to the side, you’ll see their work better.
When you’re not watching them work, cover the jar with a dark cloth. That’ll fool them into thinking they’re underground and in the dark – the conditions they usually work in.
Put your ant farm in a part of your room that’s warm during the day but not in direct sunlight. The ants will start tunnelling in a few days. You can check in on them every now and again to see how they’re progressing or observe how they work and carry food, but don’t bother them too much.