Do you think you would look at an ant differently if you invited it into your home instead of it invading uninvited?
There are over 12,000 different species of ants in the world, and they all live in social units caring for the health and well-being of the group over the needs of the individual. Unfortunately, a few bad actors may give the group as a whole a bad reputation. A few species are pests, and will invade buildings looking for resources such as moisture, shelter, and food. However, ants are fascinating, diverse creatures, and getting to know them a little better may eliminate some of the fear and anxiety if you encounter one in your home.
Did you know sometimes people invite ants into their homes and buildings? Ant farms are enclosed containers that house ants and hold a substrate (e.g.: soil, sand, gel, etc.) with at least one viewing window. The substrate allows the ants to build structures, and the window lets people watch the ants while they work.
There are several different ways to experience an ant farm. A person can purchase one, build one, or maybe even visit a zoo or university to experience a larger-than-life contained ecosystem! If someone chooses the first two options, they must fill their ant farm with ants! Below are six tips to help aspiring entomologists collect and observe friendly ants in the comfort of their home.
Ant farms can be a learning tool for both children and adults, and watching the ants day to day builds wonder and excitement. By getting to know these little creatures better, people overcome their fear, and are better prepared when encountering them unexpectedly.
Elzinga, R.J. 2004. Fundamentals of Entomology, Sixth Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Smith, E.H. & Whitman, R.C. 2007. NPMA Field Guide to Structural Pest, Second Edition. National Pest Management Association, Fairfax, VA.
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