"Arm-y" Ant farm v1.0 - stay in touch with your colony

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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!)

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
  • Bank Tube
  • Dremel
  • Ants (preferably non-biting/stinging)
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blorgggg (author) 3 years ago
First person to make one and post a pic of their Arm-y ant farm in action gets a 1 year pro membership!

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"

blorgggg (author)  william.scheurenbrand7 months ago
hahaha great suggestion!
robot30002 years ago
wait it's like squeezing your arm and what if your wrist is like too skinny and the ants crawl all over you
mrmerino2 years ago
How do you keep them from biting you?
ginger200373 years ago
How did you get a hold of a bank tube?
blorgggg (author)  ginger200373 years ago
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!)
LemurX3 years ago
Oh. I'm in that part of Instructables again.
what is this i dont even... Creative?
Can you replace the ants with wasps?
also "arm carrier" with "condom"? "Wasp condom" would be far cooler than "arm farm"
Errrm, I think you'd better do an instructable on that one..
dominator243 years ago
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.
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-jane3 years ago
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
randofo3 years ago
How many ants can this support at one time? Will it work with bees?
pcgirl randofo3 years ago
I'd like to see this done with bees.. Lots of them. :D
cc67 randofo3 years ago
of course... as long as you don't smell like honey... LOL
It'll work as long as you video the whole thing :)
THIS! lol..... Thank you.
Ijsbeer3 years ago
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.

jkoepke3 years ago
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.
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
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
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.
buirv3 years ago
You should try doing this with Fire Ants. It's Awsome Dude.
rmitchell3 years ago
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.
Well said, rmitchell. Exactly what I was thinking.
Pattymouth3 years ago
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.
Javin0073 years ago
I second what "PaulMakesThings" said.
nanaverm3 years ago
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!
AphexHenry3 years ago
So inspiring!
shannonlove3 years ago
You should try it with ants from the genus Solenopsis.

If you do, I'll give you a dollar.
ventifact3 years ago
When the time comes dump them out where you got them.
nak3 years ago
Made me smile. Thanks
ciroman3 years ago
looks extremely comfortable
VampiricPie3 years ago
If I see you on the street wearing that, I'm going to have to burn your arm off.
PsiGuy3 years ago
Hehe ... this puts a whole new spin on the saying, "Ants in your Pants" ...
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