Introduction: "Arm-y" Ant Farm V1.0 - Stay in Touch With Your Colony

Picture of "Arm-y" Ant Farm V1.0 - Stay in Touch With Your Colony

Intro and Theory
In my research and design, I need to study the behaviors of insects, particularly bees and ants. There are many methods for learning about the actions and procedures of these other forms of life. You can read books and journals, analyze video footage, and even perform experiments. These are all terrific methods, and have their own particular strengths and weaknesses, but one factor that I felt was missing, was the ability to understand the creatures within their own timescale.

Often we build mental models of the interactions  whose descriptions elide certain aspects of the total process. For instance, we could say that, given a certain pheromone, a colony of ants will do X, but often these descriptions skim over the tiny interactions which add up to the gestalt behavior, and which may take really long periods of time.

Additionally, an important part of deeply understanding these actions comes from being immersed in their behaviors. More immersive methods of biological study could help humans analyze the subjects' activities consciously and subconsciously. If one could actually live directly with the ants for an extended period of time, I believe that new understandings would arrive that would not normally be accessible through even very intense short term analysis.

For this reason I have designed the very first stage of what I am dubbing the "Arm-y" Ant farm**. Basically it is an Ant-farm that you can wear DIRECTLY on your arm. The hairs on your arm give you constant feedback as to the minute actions of your colony and provide a good anti-gravity substrate for your friends to climb around in. 

Also it's fun! and weird!

(NOTE** I would not recommend actually putting army ants into the device (or any other painful ant). It's just a corny pun people!)

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
  • Bank Tube
  • Dremel
  • Ants (preferably non-biting/stinging)

Step 2: Obtain a Pneumatic Tube

Picture of Obtain a Pneumatic Tube

This was one of those tubes that you get from a drive up bank and accidentally forget to give it back. But you don't need to steal one, even on accident! Here is a place you can buy your own (yeah that's seriously the URL!)

Step 3: Chop Off the Ends

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Unscrew the caps at both ends and dremel out areas that will fit your arms. Lock it in a vice to keep it from moving all over the place.

Chances are that your forearms are too uneven along their lengths that you cannot use the full tube. You will have to chop off one of the ends to fit the narrow part of your arm.

Step 4: Fit, Sand, Refit

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To get it comfortably on your arm, but still secure takes a good amount of sanding, cutting, and refitting. 

Step 5: Load in Ants, Start Dual-Life

Picture of Load in Ants, Start Dual-Life

Your arm hair gives them a good substrate to crawl in and hold on to,  and prevents them from flying all over the place when you move your arms.

Try to keep it on for at least 24 hours. Granted, because your arm is a strange environment and I didn't load in the whole colony, you won't really be experiencing typical life of ants, but it is a unique, interesting experience. One thing I noticed was that I would get phantom ant-crawly feelings on my opposite arm!

Step 6: Future Designs

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Some problems are that the device gets pretty sweaty, it is hard to load and unload because you need to open the entire thing, and the end pointing towards your elbow does not have a sharp cutoff, meaning that the ants love to wedge themselves in the smaller and smaller space between your arm and the lid. Anyone have good ideas to make it not soo sweaty and more secure?

I was thinking of having it attach to your arm via a breathable diaphram on both sides that would tighten around your arm for a smooth fit instead of just carving the rigid ends to fit.


blorgggg (author)2012-03-28

First person to make one and post a pic of their Arm-y ant farm in action gets a 1 year pro membership!

william.scheurenbrand (author)2014-08-23

I noticed slight red marks on your arm maybe foam meshes at both ends could help air it out and smearing hot glue on the foam to keep it from sliding around

I'm goning to go to school wearing a long sleeve shirt and act casual bout it and only when someone asks "What's that in your sleeve?" respond with "ANTS"

hahaha great suggestion!

robot3000 (author)2012-04-22

wait it's like squeezing your arm and what if your wrist is like too skinny and the ants crawl all over you

mrmerino (author)2012-04-08

How do you keep them from biting you?

ginger20037 (author)2012-03-28

How did you get a hold of a bank tube?

blorgggg (author)ginger200372012-03-28

see step 2 "Obtain a Pneumatic Tube"

This was one of those tubes that you get from a drive up bank and accidentally forget to give it back. But you don't need to steal one, even on accident! Here is a place you can buy your own (yeah that's seriously the URL!)

LemurX (author)2012-03-27

Oh. I'm in that part of Instructables again.

papayabadger (author)2012-03-26

what is this i dont even... Creative?

Green Silver (author)2012-03-25

Can you replace the ants with wasps?

RedBinary (author)Green Silver2012-03-26

also "arm carrier" with "condom"? "Wasp condom" would be far cooler than "arm farm"

Green Silver (author)RedBinary2012-03-26

Errrm, I think you'd better do an instructable on that one..

dominator24 (author)2012-03-26

I agree with PaulMakesThings, some kind of foam would be great for comfort, yet still keep an ant proof seal. I was thinking just some of that weather proofing foam tape used for doors and windows would work pretty well too.

In regards to what the ant-activists are saying, I don't think it's a big deal. It's still a fun, offbeat idea. You seem like someone that knows enough about ants to keep them safe. Plus, it's not like it's a permanent home for them. Worst case scenario, about ten ants get lost on your arm for a day, then are returned home. Well, on second thought, worst case scenario would actually be you encounter some sort of sci-fi radiation and you become an ant-human hybrid mutant. Then the government hunts you down and turns you into a super weapon of some sort and you are forced to use your superhuman ant powers (tough exoskeleton; ability to lift 50 times your own weight, etc.) to destroy entire armies against your will. But whatever, you get the idea.

FriendOfHumanity (author)2012-03-24

Very entertaining.

I'm currently working on the " Ants in your pants " version.

I'm picturing 1000's of instructable users rolling on the ground and trembling like a tickle me Elmo

Nicola-jane (author)2012-03-26

Inspiriatiinal! This project is exactly why I love instructables - without it I wouldn't right now be considering the pros and cons of a beehive hair do that really is a beehive, or pondering the relative merits of wearing a work-in-progress neck tie, i.e. with a silkworm in situ at its bottom, spinning away like crazy... And it's all in the quest for knowledge of course, light years away from that 70's dude who had a goldfish swimming around inside his glass platform shoes.... Seriously, I LOVE this

randofo (author)2012-03-23

How many ants can this support at one time? Will it work with bees?

pcgirl (author)randofo2012-03-26

I'd like to see this done with bees.. Lots of them. :D

cc67 (author)randofo2012-03-24

of course... as long as you don't smell like honey... LOL

killerjackalope (author)randofo2012-03-23

It'll work as long as you video the whole thing :)

Ijsbeer (author)2012-03-25

It puts me in mind of Hex - (basically a sort of computer made by wizards that's powered by ants and various other things, for those of you unfamiliar with the genius that is the Discworld). You should definitely look it up, it's rather fantastic. I particularly love the 'Anthill Inside' sticker.

I'd love to have a go at making something like this, though probably without the skin contact for easy removal/putting on, and distinctly more steampunk-y, and without real ants for the reasons that rmitchell has stated below. Having living ones is cool and all, but killing them not so much. Brings to mind some interesting ideas about how different, eithically, this kind of thing really is from fur, or leather, when used in jewelery etc, but I'm too tired to make a meaningful interesting point about that right now.

jkoepke (author)2012-03-25

This project freaks me out because the ants are next to your skin. Any ideas on how to make something like this without the skin to ant contact? I'm sure you could add a second bank tube into the device somehow. Otherwise I'm all for cuff like devices.

Snipe8200 (author)jkoepke2012-03-25

Ants aren't really that bad then wont kill you nor hurt you unless you piss them off, some very and some will be cool being trapped next to some ones arm

sk8erfreeks (author)jkoepke2012-03-25

you should probably put holes at the top an put a thin fabric mesh and for the skin contact part you should put a foam arm band and put sand above it for the ants please don't be negative if you don't like this

jkoepke (author)sk8erfreeks2012-03-25

How was that negative? I just don't like the idea of ants on my bare skin and was wondering if I could contribute a fix to that problem. Otherwise I think this is a cool project.

buirv (author)2012-03-25

You should try doing this with Fire Ants. It's Awsome Dude.

rmitchell (author)2012-03-25

It would be helpful to describe what happens to ants when separated from their colony before detailing how to make a wearable cage for them. People who build this may deserve to know that when separated from their home colony, ants do not thrive. Many people care about their pets. Making ants into pets by creating a wearable environ, ensures that as these pets die from being separated from their home. The wearer gets to enjoy the spectacle as they struggle against all hope, to find their way home.

It is unclear what benefit the wearable arm death cage provides over a magnifying glass, in terms of understanding normal any behaviors..

Ants are colony creatures, Take them away from their colony, sever their paths home and what exactly are you studying?

I am sorry if you find the cage hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, you should be able to watch the ants searching hopelessly for home in more comfort.

I agree whole heartedly, it would be like some giant taking you away from all your loved ones, and shoving you downs his plumbers crack for how ever long it takes you to die.

dvrnhll (author)rmitchell2012-03-25

Well said, rmitchell. Exactly what I was thinking.

Pattymouth (author)2012-03-25

Ahhhhh, this made me smile. My first thought was that those poor ants must feel like astronauts when you juggle.
I think you're crazy-creative, but this would make me itch a month after I took it off. Name an ant after me.

Javin007 (author)2012-03-25

I second what "PaulMakesThings" said.

nanaverm (author)2012-03-25

Now, for a cool container so I can wear my pet worms. (They can't take light).

Around here, we have biting and infecting fire ants, so the idea of ants crawling on my arm is a horror to me. More power to you, with your benign crawlers!

AphexHenry (author)2012-03-25

So inspiring!

shannonlove (author)2012-03-25

You should try it with ants from the genus Solenopsis.

If you do, I'll give you a dollar.

ventifact (author)2012-03-25

When the time comes dump them out where you got them.

nak (author)2012-03-25

Made me smile. Thanks

ciroman (author)2012-03-25

looks extremely comfortable

VampiricPie (author)2012-03-25

If I see you on the street wearing that, I'm going to have to burn your arm off.

PsiGuy (author)2012-03-25

Hehe ... this puts a whole new spin on the saying, "Ants in your Pants" ...

The Cartographer (author)2012-03-25

And this may be reverent to your interests

and you're going to want to play this one while the other one is going.


The Cartographer (author)2012-03-25

Challenge excepted!

and7barton (author)2012-03-25

This could be adjusted in size - UP if you are a fortunate person, or DOWN if you are less luckily-endowed.......and worn on the scrotum.
Imagine the sensation !

DeceptibotX (author)2012-03-25

One ide is the same concept, but two layers of plastic to keep it off the body, and sill it with sand, plain gelatin, or something of that nature.

Reminds me of Rauls wild kingdom; "you know what really makes them angry? When you shake it like this!"

ceknight (author)2012-03-25

Ok, now this is officially the weirdest Instructable I've seen yet!

iglitchhalo2 (author)2012-03-25

looks like the trolls have made their home on instructables

agis68 (author)2012-03-24

but if you want to do this at list use double layer tube so the bugs living in the middle layer and no touch your skin

agis68 (author)2012-03-24

Thanks but noway man....bugs on my body........mprrrrrr!

Treasure Tabby (author)2012-03-24

LOL I wonder if there's going to be a tarantula version in the future?
Would be great for pranks. ;D

ilpug (author)2012-03-24

Well, takes all kinds to make a world....

This looks like it could be made a bit more cheaply with recycled materials, like maybe out of some wrist sweatbands and a soda bottle or something. Other than that... wow. I don't really know what else to say.

facklere (author)2012-03-23

I almost want to try this. It would be fun to wear to school.

About This Instructable




Bio: I want computers to be wilder.
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