Nature is filled with all kinds of fascinating creatures—especially ants with their unique and orderly social structure within their colonies. Taking time to watch them can be a great learning opportunity. Instead of heading outside, you can bring the adventure into your home. Creating an ant farm is a simple, fun, and awesome way to learn more about these tiny bugs. Check out how to make your own ant farm.
- 2 clear jars—1 large, 1 smaller (Make sure it fits inside the big jar)
- Sharp knife or hole punch
- Rubber band
- Container to hold ants and soil
Step One: Gather Your Supplies
You’ll want to make sure you have all of your supplies before starting. When choosing ants and soil, you have a couple of options. The easiest solution is buying ants and soil from a store that specializes in ant farms. They will pair ants with the soil that works best. If you or your child enjoys a good treasure hunt, you can always try finding ants on your own. If you go this route, use the soil the ants were living in.
There are a few things to keep in mind when making your own ant farm. Colonies need a queen to survive. Unfortunately, finding a queen in your backyard or from a shop could be a little tricky. It may not last forever, but seeing the ants tunneling away is worth it.
We want you to have fun with this project, and being safe adds to the enjoyment. Be cautious when searching for ants. You don’t want to stumble across a colony of fire ants.
Step Two: Assemble the Main Structure
Wash and dry the jars before assembling your farm. Remove the lid from the small jar and place it, upside down, in the big jar. Try to center it so that ants can travel around the entire jar, but don’t stress out. Your ant farm will still be the talk of the town even if it’s not perfectly centered.
Step Three: Add Soil & Ants
Fill the space between the jars with soil, leaving about ¼ of the jar empty. This will keep the ants from climbing to the mouth of the jar. You definitely don’t want any ants practicing their escape artist techniques. When you’re done, it’s time to place the ants in the jar. Be gentle with them, they didn’t sign up for a roller coaster ride.
Step Four: Securing the Jar
Carefully, poke a few holes in the big jar’s lid. A sharp knife or even a sturdy hole punch can do the trick. Place the lid tightly on the jar. Take a piece of cheesecloth, lay it over top of the lid, and secure it with a rubber band. Though ants shouldn’t be able to climb this high, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Don’t worry about your ants, though. The cheesecloth is thin enough that air will still get in the jar.
Step Five: Caring for Your Ants
Your DIY ant farm is ready to go, and it’s time to enjoy watching the ants! Remember to give your ants a few drops of water and food every day. Ants aren’t too picky with their food preferences. They will love small pieces of fruits and vegetables. If you purchased a kit from the store, they may have included food. Follow the instructions to ensure your ants are happy.
Another thing to keep in mind is that ants do most of their tunneling at night. When you aren’t watching them, place a dark cloth over the ant farm. This will mimic nighttime for them and allow them to get their work done.
Ant farms give us a peek into the world of bugs. We get a front-row seat to observe one of the hardest working bugs in action. It’s an educational, but fun approach to science. Are you ready to make your own ant farm? Let us know in the comments below!