Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Ants Go Marching…

In a few weeks, we’ll be learning about insects with our kindergarten curriculum.  We ordered this fun, blue gel Ant Works habitat.  It’s not the one recommended by My Father’s World Kindergarten, but I thought it would be a little bit more fun to watch the ants tunneling through this blue gel.  I was also happy that we would not have to open the habitat often because the blue gel is food for the ants.

I preordered our little vial of ants for our ant farm, as it says to allow 3 weeks for the ants to arrive.  Well, our ants came QUICKLY!  So quickly, in fact, that when I opened the padded envelope from the science lab, I thought it was the dinosaur kit that we had ordered.  I got quite the surprise when a tube full of big harvest ants fell into my hand!

The instructions included with the vial had a large print label stating “WARNING: ANTS BITE”.  I couldn’t bring myself to open the vial of ants, so we waited until Daddy came home.

Daddy started by poking four holes into the gel with the provided stick.  This is to show the ants how to get down into the gel.

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While he did that, we put the vial of ants in the fridge for a few minutes to “chill out”.  (Thanks to Leslie, from MFW K Facebook group, for this suggestions!)  This helps to keep the ants calm while you pour them into their new home.  It worked like a charm, and there was no trouble while transferring our new little friends.

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Once they were in their new home, Daddy made sure the lid was pushed down very securely.  Then Mommy placed a piece of clear packing tape over the top to ensure that little hands didn’t pry it open.  (Call me paranoid, but I really don’t want 30+ biting harvester ants on the loose in my house!)

The kids had so much fun checking out the ants. 

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We learned that all of the ants in our habitat are female.
Males are used only for reproduction, and they die soon afterward.

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The kit includes a magnifying glass and a small magnifier.  With the small magnifier, you can even see the little hairs on the ant’s legs!  It’s pretty amazing!

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We started it at about 6 PM, as it says to allow 24 hours for the ants to start tunneling.   Within an hour, though, they were already digging into their new home!

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By 7 AM the next day, they had some pretty good tunnels going!
They also had some pretty neat hills of gel forming in the open space
at the top of the habitat.

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The fun thing about a transparent gel is that you can see
the ants and their tunnels from every angle!

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Everyone, kids and grown-ups alike, has been fascinated to see what the ants will do next.
Watching as they decided which tunnels to extend is interesting!
It’s always fun to wake up in the morning and find a new project in the works.

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Their newest project, at 5 days in, is to dig tunnels through their newly formed hills.
They are also building hills up to the very top of the enclosure,
and they are making gel blobs on the inside of the lid!November2012 175

A few of the ants are trying to eat through the white foam seal around the lid.
(Can you see the one in the top left corner?)
Thankfully, they haven’t had much luck.

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We’ve had one ant die so far.  The instruction manual states that the ants will bring their dead to the surface, and we are supposed to remove any dead ants.

Well, it’s true that they brought the dead ant to the surface.  We weren’t able to remove it, though, because they buried her in a hill of gel!

The manual says that you can open the habitat once a week to allow a little fresh air into the habitat.  Ants don’t have lungs, but they do take in air through small pores in their body.  I haven’t been brave enough to do that just yet, but we will probably stick them in the fridge for a few minutes before doing so.

You can get the AntWorks Habitat for $15 on Amazon, and the ants were ordered from ScienceKit.com using a coupon code (NEWBY) that I found online, so the total (after tax) was $4.67. They had a chemical warming wrap included in the package to protect the ants from cold weather.

We are really enjoying this adventure, and we’d highly recommend it!  Once your ants are safely inside the THICK acrylic habitat, I doubt they can escape.  So even if you’re a little afraid of these creepy crawly guys, there’s nothing to worry about.  It is AMAZING to watch them at work!

If you’re still looking for a fun Christmas present for your kids (nephew, nieces, grandkids…) I would highly recommend this as a fun option!

(Yes, I did include affiliate links…feel free to search for “AntWorks” on Amazon if you’d prefer.)

6 comments:

Kourtney said...

Wow that looks so fun! I didn't know they had gel ant farms. Can't wait for my little one to be old enough for this. Thanks for sharing! (p.s. Love that males are only used for breeding then die. There's got to be a good joke in there... ;)

Dawn @ Our Little Monkeys said...

Hee hee! When I read that section of the instructions aloud to my husband, he accused me of plotting to kill him off now that we feel our family is complete! ;)

Lindsay said...

This looks like so much fun!! Sammy would love to watch the ants work!

Michelle said...

How awesome!!!! I agree, the gel looks much more interesting than the regular ant hill :-) You guys are having so much fun - I LOVE reading what you guys are up to :-)

Kat said...

This looks so neat!!! I think we need to try it!

Dawn @ Our Little Monkeys said...

Kat - Dave and Christy found gel ant farms at Bailey's last week for $5...and that included a light up base to illuminate the gel!