Instructables
Picture of Amazing Ant Farm
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In keeping with my other Instructable, I had an idea for a project that other people had done, but wanted to do it better. Here is a cheap, easy to make, very durable ant farm for your ant watching pleasure. It doesn't look the prettiest, but then again, do your ants really need a $2000 princess palace?
 
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Step 1: Figure Out The Size

Begin by figuring out the size that you would like your ant farm to be. Make it large enough to hold a good number of ants, but not too big. It helps to know the size of the ants you will be putting in; if you have a larger size ant, a larger farm would be better. At this point, it is also good to determine the gap that you will leave between the two sheets of plastic.

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials
Now that you have determined the size of your ant farm, you will need the following materials:

1. One or two pieces of plastic big enough to cut the windows out of.
2. Enough 1x3 board to go around the edge of the window size.
3. Threaded rod and nuts (used 1/4-20 in this model)
4. GE Silicone Door and Window caulk to seal around windows
5. Building stuff skills

Total cost was $10 for plastic, $2 for wood, $2 for hardware and $3 for caulk.

And you will probably need for tools:
1. Saw to cut windows to size if they are wrong size
2. Saw to cut wood boards to size
3. Drill to drill holes in the top for threaded rods.
4. Method of putting the appropriate groove in the boards (see step 5)


Picture shows necessary building stuff skills for this project. (just kidding)
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grendel542 months ago

can you post a picture of the finished product with ants in it?

flying pie4 years ago
can i just use a  hand saw for this or a dreamel because i dont have a dreamel =-|
catwood (author)  flying pie4 years ago
Yes you can use whatever tools you have that you think will actually work on the materials.
what about  the plastic
You can actually cut plastic with a utility knife and a metal straight edge. Just score it a couple of times and snap it over the edge of a table. You may need a file or a sanding block to clean up any rough edges.

Don't try to cut too deeply, several light scoring cuts are better. If try to cut too deeply you can slip off the straight edge a slice the tip off of your finger. (don't ask me how I know this, I just do) =D

Better yet, use clamps to hold the straightedge.
catwood (author)  flying pie4 years ago
Woodworking tools cut it pretty well. If you have any wood handsaws, they can be half decent at cutting it. Not a hacksaw; the blade will get destroyed.
so what about cutting the plastic panel
I suppose this is not designed as a termite farm or meant to hold Carpenter Ants ;) I like that it is such a large display. I bought an Uncle Milton Gel Ant Farm for my desk at work. It's lighted but kinda dull.

This display with a backlight or focus lights would look great.
And this is why I never make an ant farm... no power tools and I think I will kill myself accidentally if I use a chisel. I am seriously prone to accidents. Maybe I will just get an aquarium and fill the inside of it up with another container full of plants...
You can get them to cut the plastic sheets at the hardware store- they will usually make 3 free cuts and then 1 dollar a cut. Saves time though.
Thank you so much- I have wanted an ant farm for forever but have no power tools. I love this instructable (I can get the wood pieces cut for a buck a cut at the hardware store, first 3 cuts are free, but it will be perfect then). THANK YOU!
gallatea5 years ago
Great project. Do you have any photos posted anywhere of it up and working with ants?
second that
catwood (author)  thomasporter2 years ago
Sorry I built this for someone else so I don't have pictures of it in action.
nikeman764 years ago
cool... this inspired me to make one :)
schifferay4 years ago
wooooow what is ur lunch?? what is the thing that look like donut?? =]
catwood (author)  schifferay4 years ago
They are bagels!
erfonz6 years ago
I had an ant farm, but those mortherf***ers didn't grow sh*t. And if I tore your legs off, you would look like a snowman.
rory_woj erfonz4 years ago
hahaha, I havent heard Mitch Hedburg in a long time
what do you fill it up with before the ants are put in? is it just dirt?
Hi, I love your idea. I just wanted to mention that the man who invented the ant farm has asked people not to use the phrase "ant farm" when describing any ant colony product other than his own. The reason for this is that he only recieves royalties on it, and his income from those are very slim. If it becomes common for people to refer to all ant colonies as "ant farms" then it becomes a generic term and the company will lose the copyright on the name and thus he will lose his royalties. Just thought I would let you know and spread the word.
I'm not criticizing you for spreading the word, but I think that he's a bit late to prevent the term from becoming widespread. I hope he manages to keep his royalties, but I've always heard people refer to "ant colonies" as "ant farms". This is an awesome project, by the way. : )
tileguy6 years ago
I am hoping you realize you can't seal the ant farm totally on all sides? You need oxygen to get in and also, of course, not let the ants in. I have owned on of Uncle Milton's Ant farms a long time ago. They have breathing holes on the top of the ant farm that are about 2" long and a 1/2" wide. You can add some slots like that to the top of the ant farm and apply fine screen on the inside to cover the slots so ants don't get out. Also, take note, if you have the two plastic panels too far apart, you will not be able to see what the ants are doing. I am guessing that the Uncle Milton's ant farm panels have no more than 3/8" - 1/2" spacing at the most.
tileguy tileguy6 years ago
Ooooops, not let the ants out, duh. Not enough coffee yet, sorry.
lol
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shantaram6 years ago
Great now they can go to the ant farm and keep off my kitchen counter love your idea and i like ants ...
lil22435.jpg
CapnChkn6 years ago
Alrighty! I gets to ax the obvious question! Beyond just making some ants build tunnels, how do you plan to get the queen and other (ant) social elements to accept this as a normal environment? Are you going to seek out a fertile princess? Are you going to try to harvest an established colony? Hmmm. I wonder if there's an ant supplier on the web soemwars...
You get the from the backyard silly! ;P
Yup. I knew you could get the ants without the Queen, but to have a self sustaining population, you need the breeder of the nest. After looking around on the web, I found that: A) Because of environmental concerns, mailing Queen ants is illegal. B) Keeping a full blown colony is a major undertaking. Space would be your first concern, Queens produce a lot of eggs a day. Food would be the second. Apparently the ants you get from Uncle Milty are just going through the motions of life without a queen, and having the mother around kicks them into hyperdrive. With that incentive, they would need a place to kind of forage and so on, one reason why the ants for these constructions are big as species of ants go. They would find a way out somehow. Maybe an array of flat nests which you could cover with dark cloth to keep them building up to the clear barrier, connected by tubing, with a way to the out of doors.
I was only stirring you. I keep ants, have two colonies and a queen in each. I also have a spawned colony without a queen. My setups include several interconnecting chambers for each colony and two separate foraging areas for both... The first colony accepted immediatley but the second colony had to be persuaded via sugary treats to migrate into their new enclosure. They still don't use one chamber and have a tendancy to abandon sites without notice.
Cool! I gots werms. I seem to have more Black Soldier Flies than anything though. I'm usually keeping the ants out instead of in.
There is a supplier or ants for ant farms. They are the original creators or the "Ant Farm" in the 60's or 70's. Google ant farm uncle milton. You can buy an established colony and the material used as dirt, not dirt, for the ants to live in.
johnnydev6 years ago
All right... I'm new here and really want to make this for my boys but I have a question about this portion of the instructions...

"Start by measuring the height of the windows. This will be the height of the two side pieces. Using a saw, cut two pieces to this length."''

Is this correct? this would tell me that the plastic will span the top and bottom of the to side pieces perfectly... If so then wouldn't the plastic end up sticking out of the top when you add the bottom piece?

Please help me understand if you could :)

Thanks,
Josh
catwood (author)  johnnydev6 years ago
I think it is worded correctly; the side pieces do go the whole height from top to bottom of the plastic in this version. The bottom piece then goes in between the two sides, rather than the whole thing resting on the bottom panel. In other words, the side edges of the bottom touch the sides instead of having the bottom edge of the sides touch the bottom piece. It can never hurt to cut the side and bottom pieces an inch longer than needed and cut them down after trying which way to fit them together works.
nibbler1256 years ago
knowing my luck they would all get out and invade my room
catwood (author)  nibbler1256 years ago
haha you could always build an autotargetting flame thrower to keep the rogue ants under control
make a small moat. they wouldnt get far lol
Brennn106 years ago
Awesome job! Can you post some pictures of it with ants in it?
catwood (author)  Brennn106 years ago
Sorry. It has not been filled with ants yet.
No rush my friend. I was just curious if you have or not. Definitely post some when you do fill it with ants. I am anxious to see them!
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