A simple ant farm can be set up in a large, wide-mouthed glass jar partly filled with soil. Subterranean galleries will usually be visible through the glass walls provided the lower half of the bottle is normally kept covered with a thick sleeve of paper to provide a dark environment. A more complicated ant farm can be made with a layer of soil between two sheets of glass separated by narrow slats of wood and held together by rubber bands or bulldog clips. Any of the small species of household and garden ants is suitable for these small set-ups. Simply dig up the whole nest area with a trowel and add to the container – the ants will sort themselves out in a couple of days.

An artificial diet for feeding ants can be made from:

  • 1 egg
  • 60 ml honey
  • 1 drop of a vitamin and mineral supplement
  • 5 g agar
  • 500 ml water

Dissolve the agar in 250 ml boiling water. Let cool. Mix 250 ml cold water, honey, vitamin & mineral supplement and egg until smooth. Add the agar solution to this mixture, stirring constantly. Pour into petri dishes to set (0.5-1 cm deep). Store in the refrigerator. The recipe fills four 15 cm diameter petri dishes, and is jelly-like in consistency. Place a dish in the ant colony.

Sugar ants with their larvae, Camponotus eastwoodi Sugar ants with their larvae, Camponotus eastwoodi

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