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Watch Them Work

Ants are one of the most amazing creatures on earth. Yes, they are pesky when you are trying to have a picnic outside, but did you know ants…

  • Use their antennae to smell, taste, touch, and communicate with other ants
  • Ants have excellent eyesight because their eyes have several lenses
  • There are over 20,000 different species of ants
  • Queen ants can live up to 30 years
  • Worker ants live about 10 years (that’s because they wear themselves out working so hard)
  • Ants don’t have lungs—they breathe through tiny holes in their body
  • Ants can lift 20 times their body weight NOTE: if people could do that, a 175-pound person could lift a car over their head

Ants live in mounds or hills called colonies. An ant colony is both above and below the ground. The colonies have many different rooms and tunnels or hallways. The different rooms of an ant colony are used for different things. The ants build them that way! They have rooms to store different types of food and rooms for the different members of the colony.

What we can learn from ants

You may not think you can learn anything from ants other than how to ruin a picnic, but the truth is, you can learn other things from ants, too.

  • How to work together as a team—ants work well together
  • How to work hard—ants work very hard for what they have
  • How to take care of yourself—ants take very good care of themselves

Let’s watch the ants work

Ants are always busy. We can’t usually see what they are doing, because it takes place underground or inside their colony. But with this experiment, you can!

Here is what you need:

  • A clear plastic or glass container (a small fishbowl will do)
  • 3 colors of sand (enough to layer in the bowl making it half full)
  • Ants—you can get them from your yard or even order them online
  • Water
  • 2 or 3 piece of cereal
  • A piece of nylon stocking large enough to fit over the opening of the bowl
  • Strong tape (duct tape)

Here is what you do:

  • Layer the sand evenly in the bowl until it is about half full
  • Mist the top of the sand with water—not too wet, but not too dry, either
  • Place 3 pieces of cereal on top of the sand—mist the cereal, too, but don’t get it soggy
  • Place the ants in the bowl
  • Stretch the nylon over the top of the bowl—be quick so the ants don’t escape
  • Seal the edges of the nylon with tape to keep the ants inside
  • Set the bowl somewhere it will not be disturbed. Don’t worry about setting in the sun—a room with natural and artificial light will do.
  • Observe the ants once or twice a day
  • Mist the top of the sand through the nylon with water once or twice a week
  • When the cereal is gone, carefully undo a section of the tape, lift the nylon and add more food (cereal, a small chunk of fruit, a piece of a cookie, or a cube of bread)

What happens:

The ants waste little time in building a new home. They eat the food, drink the water from the sand and from the food , and work…work…work.