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THE ORDER OF ANTS

Study the social organization of ants by making an ant farm

Suitable For

Grade 6

Difficulty

2

Time Required

 <1 Week

Supervision

Advised

What’s it about?

When we think about ants, we usually think about how troublesome they are. Ants are actually very interesting and they have a highly organized social structure and way of life. Ants are very social insects. They live in colonies that are ruled by a queen, which only reason for being is to make babies. This science experiment lets you observe the tunnelling structures and social workings an ant colony:

Topics covered

Queen ants, Worker ants, Male ants

What will I need?

  • 2x GLASS JARS
  • SOIL WITH ANTS
  • BOTTLE WITH FROZEN LIQUID
  • DIGGING SPADE
  • BLACK PAPER
  • STICKY TAPE
  • FINE CLOTH NETTING & RUBBER BAND

Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

When the worker ants and their queen are placed in the jar, they are calmed by the presence of their queen and they quickly start to setup house. In this science experiment the ants have constructed their tunnelling network close to the inner surface of the jar, because they are drawn towards the black paper cover over the jar and to be far away from the frozen bottle of water in the centre. Ant colonies have an elaborate structure of tunnels and chambers. These chambers are used for nurseries for the larvae, food storage areas or even ant cemeteries!

This tunnelling and chamber system will become even more complex over time as your colony develops. The social order of ant colonies includes the queen ant, male ants and worker ants. A queen ant can live up to twenty years, but the male ants only live for a few weeks. The worker ants can live from one to three years and usually spend their whole lives gathering food and taking care of the queen’s babies. In some ant species the worker ants may also become soldiers or other specialized types. Some worker ants are even given the job of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it outside in a special rubbish dump.

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