Instructables
Picture of Luxury Ant Farm: The mANTsion
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A few weeks ago a friend of mine was reminiscing about their old ant farm and so I decided to make an ant farm and give it to them as a gift.

This ant farm is made from old windows, has a warm LED "sun", some structures for the ants to play on, and is tricked out with a few laser etched/cut accouterments that hopefully make this more than just any regular ant farm. I like to think of it as a luxury ant farm, or mANTsion.



 
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Step 1: Background and materials

Picture of Background and materials
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Background
I remember back when I had an ant farm as a kid and it used to be one heck of toy. I think I had an Uncle Milton ant farm, since until recently that was the only type of ant farm kids could buy. Uncle Milton did well for himself - he sold about 20 million of these things, so I am betting that a few other people out there had one too.

There was the flowing green outline of the farm equipment above ground, the exciting tunnels that the ants created, and then of course the surprise and disappointment when it all came crashing down after a few weeks when the ants died. But still, considering you were watching ants behind a piece of plastic, it was one wild ride.

A few years ago NASA helped develop the Space Age Gel Ant Habitat and stirred things up by replacing the ants normal tunneling environment of sand or dirt with a gel that not only serves as their habitat, but that is also their source of food. A friend of mine got one of these and it turned out to be disappointingly small, and after a while the ants went crazy from the gel and began nightly attempts at escaping. The holes at the top of the container were just a little to big and I think that eventually a few of them actually made it out into the free world.

I wanted the core of my ant farm to be built from cheap materials, stylish, and safe (I didn't want the ants to escape under any circumstances. Fear of ants escaping into your room = sleepless nights. Sleepless nights = unstable day time function. Unstable daytime function = reduction in caloric intake, and nobody wants that.)

Ant farm design and construction is pretty flexible. I read a little bit about ants online and learned that they prefer a little bit of privacy, a bit of moisture in their sand and some food to eat. Other than that they pretty much take care of themselves so the design process was left wide open.

I decided to use two old windows to build the base of the ant farm and then add in some customized options as things went along.

Materials
  • two matching windows
  • wood or metal lid
  • window screening
  • 40 lbs. children's play box sand
  • adhesive foam weather stripping
  • hardware - bolts, washers and wing nuts
  • water bottle w/cotton
  • ant food

Luxury Add-ons (optional)

  • laser etched curtains and curtain rod
  • LED ground cherry husk lamp with appropriate resistor and power supply
  • ceramic letters
  • laser cut ant stencils
  • magnetic lid

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denisek.sf9 months ago
How did the ants do? Any pics of tunnels? I like the lampshade, ground cherries are nice.
noahw (author)  denisek.sf9 months ago
The ants made some great tunnels over a month or two, then they died. Sorry, no pictures of the tunnels :(

Milkweed Bugs!
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sereneone10 months ago
I ve always been fascinated with ant farms but never had one. Your detailed explanations about ants was really nice ot read. Thanks.
ARVash7 years ago
I ate an ant today O__O
An ant or an aunt?
i got ten bucks at school one time for eating ants by a teacher...............................................................................................................................uh long story
Derin sgt.paper5 years ago
my friend ate grass yesterday he wanted to throw up and leave school because his friend did but he and another friend are the kings of disgusting they ate an icecream on the ground that was stomped on
That sounds like it would be a long story, but probably a reasonably interesting one.
sheldor3 years ago
As you are having fun in making an ant farm, you can also make a home made ant gel. It is very easy to make an ant gel as long as you have the necessary materials. The materials you will need include 25 grams of potassium sorbate, 27 grams of sodium benzoate and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Add the ingredients into boiling water and stir it thoroughly and turn off the fire after few minutes. The next step that you should do is to immerse the aquarium in cold water and pour the hot mixture. You can add tea tree oil in the mixture and stir. Let the mixture set until it become a gel.


http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5803014/fulltext.html
Hexpigge4 years ago
very clever! But how did you made the top part? How did you make holes for air?
mrsayao7 years ago
I love this idea. Be warned though, make sure the holes on the top aren't too big. The ants you buy from suppliers online are much bigger than normal household ants. I bought an ant farm when I was a kid and after a few weeks of having it, I woke up one day to the bigger ants being attacked by the smaller ants that were native to my area. One smaller ant was pulling at each of the limbs of the bigger ants. I was devastated. Maybe utilize some sort of mesh, like the ones used for screen doors? With that said, good job!
fighting ants! very cool!
Lol he needs to make an instructable on an ant colliseum XD "The queen sits up in an area and watches her children fight to the death for her amusement" Bwahahaha!
ta6 years ago
Can anyone help?PLEASE!!! I work in an infant school and think it would be cool to have an ant farm on the wall outside for the children to watch. .......Have no idea where to start or if possible? Just began the research but would sure appreciate some straight forward advice! Have some perspex 3ft by 2 ft and about an inch thick on a metal frame, thought that could be the front and havent got much further!
Gamernotnerd ta5 years ago
Try fish, fish don't bite. And at my best guess children would like colorful fish more. But that's just my opinion. But I have no idea as far as making an ant farm.
And if the fish manage to escape they dont start a new colony in the playdoh. You could always make one out of plastic or go see if a local high school/middle school works with plastic. They would just need a jigsaw/bandsaw and the right plastic. a few years ago in biology we had a unit involving small aquariums with brine shrimp guppies, snails, and plants. At the end of the unit we could take the stuff home, i dumped it in the pond and several winters later the fish are still alive. See if a school in the area does something similar or you can order guppies online and buy sea monkeys. Also might want to post a topic/question to get more answers
XD
iPodGuy5 years ago
I've never been successful finding queens, but I'd love to build my own ant farm.
Omensign5 years ago
My father and I used to make ant farms when I visisted in the summertime, including collecting our own ants. We would begin by looking for a type of large red ant, I have no idea what the specific scientific name is. Afterwhich my father had no problem letting them crawl all over his skin before dusting them off in the prepared jar ant-farm. I was too afraid to do that and I would collect the eggs that popped up instead. The farm would last virtually all summer before the ants would stop appearing in the winter. Eventually my dad took the jar out and emptied it in a field only to discover a giant ball of ants still living in the center. This didn't always happen and future projects didn't seem as successful. I've always been fascinated by ant farms and simply reading this article makes me want to bash one up. Maybe a wall mounted ant farm.
nice just one thing, you said theirs a LED heat lamp. LEDs produce little heat if any at all, and normal bulb would "heat". just saying great jobs BUT HATE ANTS THEY MUST ALL DIE!!!!!!!!! just a personal thing sorry.
thank you for sharing your phobias without explanation. I will sleep easier tonight.
noahw (author)  i make shooting things7 years ago
I think I wrote that there is an led "sun" light inside. No mention of heat lamp here, but thanks for the support. Hopefully enough ants can live inside the mANTsion so that they won't have to bother you.
samisugar6 years ago
hiya i was just wondering how thick was the glass u used? as i was thinking of using woodn picture frames with the glass in them however i dont no whether they would be thck enough, i dont want it to be too thick so there wont be as much sand in there wat do u think?? thanks
noahw (author)  samisugar6 years ago
The glass was standard single pane window glass. That's usually 3/32". I imagine that picture frame glass might actually be a bit thinner, so you might want to have some regular window glass cut for it. That being said, you'll be using way less sand then I was, so the glass won't need to be as strong. I'd suggest some experimentation and airing on the side of caution - no one like spilled sand, or loose ants for that matter.
NakedSPOCK6 years ago
Well, I think any activity away from the boob tube is excellent. However, I am going to create an Ant farm and see where it goes. I will have a old medical tattoo removal laser, that I would like to add so when an ant tries to escape it gets fried. I wonder will they eat their dead? NakedSpock...
emopants927 years ago
ya i really like this idea and im going to try it but i got a question on the top you put wireing so the ants dont get out but obviously they can so how or what else can you do so they cant? o and also how could i build this with out 2 windows? i was thinking like plexi glass or something idk but if you could help thanks
noahw (author)  emopants927 years ago
The top of the ant farm has a piece of steel on it. The steel has some small holes drilled into it. Covering the small holes is screen material - like the kind in windows, so the ants are securely kept inside the ant farm. You could certainly build the ant farm out of plexi glass. It woudl be a good choice since you could make it any size and shape that you liked, and it wouldn't be too expensive. If you are going to make a medium or large sized ant farm I would recommend buying plexi that is at least 3/16" to 1/4" thick. The ant farm I built took 50 pounds of sand to fill up, so strong walls would be best.
ya i would like to really thank you soo much for your instructable now im going to have a large really nice ant farm and not some crap piece of plastic that i have to go out and buy 10 dollor antslol ya i used 2 picture frames with i think 1/3 of an inch thick wood in between it and glue the glass in then im going to use liquid nails to completly seel the whole thing shut and whooola but ya thankz so much i should be finishing it up in the next couple of days
noahw (author)  emopants927 years ago
Using two picture frames is a great idea! If you get a chance once it's done, post some pictures of the design. I would love to see it.
ya no problem it should be done within the next couple days im waiting for the sealent to dry over the wood cuz i didnt want to risk ants eventually eating throu the wood i have on the sides but ya ill post some pictures on here the moment its all together and constructed
noahw (author)  emopants927 years ago
Where are you getting your ants from? Are you digging up a colony or ordering some online. I ordered from www.antsalive.com and so far they have been really great diggers. As soon as a tunnel collapses they are all their to fix it. They burrow 24/7! Of the 50 ants that came about 2/3rds are still alive after the first month. I look forward to seeing the pictures.
hey man i havent been on in a while soooo srry camera problems but ya ill try to get pics up really soon in a couple days but ya i cant find anything to work for giveing water to them where did you get the vile thingy?
noahw (author)  emopants927 years ago
It's the bottom of a dropper bottle (like for medicines and tinctures etc...) You could use any kind of vile or jar though with a narrow neck. It actually didn't work all that well at delivering the water to the ants though. I think that just taking a spray/mist bottle and wetting down the top of the soil works best for giving the ants their water.
FYI it's spelled vial...no big deal but i was a bit confused at first cos i thought you really meant vile as in disgusting =)
alright once i can get my camera working or borrow one ill put some pictures up
noahw (author)  emopants927 years ago
Sounds good!
ya i am planning on getting some ants around my house cuz i really dont have the money to keep buying ants i am going to make my ant farm so that i can put regular sized like idk the smaller ones so i dont have to spend soo much on ants every like 3 months but ya i put the sealent on sunday at around 12 and its still not dry but hopefully it will dry within the next couple of days
hydrnium.h26 years ago
I hear the water soaking gel in diapers is the same as that space age stuff they use in the new ant farms, is that true?
yarboroughc7 years ago
HI, I am going to construct a 3Ft by 2Ft Ant Farm made out of glass and wood. I am planning on hanging this ant farm up like a picture in my living room. I was wondering if anyone has plans for a large scale farm such as this i know it isn't that hard to make plans for one but a hint in the right direction would be nice also i do not want to be buying and digging up ants all the time i am very new at this and i have no idea how to find or dig up a queen ant also any other info that you guys might know i'd really appreaciate it thanks alot.
noahw (author)  yarboroughc7 years ago
I originally was going to make an ant farm that was as big as some of the large windows in my apartment (8ft x 4ft) so that I wouldn't have to draw my curtains any more to get privacy. I had secured some old glass windows that were the perfect size but then realized that the ants might not like cooking in the sun all day so I put that plan on the back burner. I think that hanging an ant farm on the wall sounds like a great idea. Indeed - if you were going to have it be rather large and permanent you would want to find a queen so that it could be self-propagating. I wouldn't make the ant farm too deep, since things tend to get heavy pretty quickly. My ant farm was about 2' by 1.5' and it weighs over 70 lbs when it's filled with sand.
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