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.
Step 1: Background and materials
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.
- 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
- 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