Picture of god's clean up crew
using basic carpentry skills i'm going to show you how to make a giant ant farm out of scrap i had just laying around .this is a great way to view how ants live, dig, eat, and just interact with one another .it's also a great way to teach kids about the importance of ants and their role in the world
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Step 1: Tools and materials

Picture of tools and materials

-3/4" ply wood (design dimensions will be dictate how much you require)
-plate glass (the other factor that will dictate how much wood you require)
-wood glue and or silicon or latex caulk
-1 screws
-door and window foam weather striping
-sand (this one required 50 lbs)


-eye and ear protection
-skill or table saw
-router and 1/4 straight bit
-cordless drill
-ratchet bar claps
-drill bit
-counter sink bit
-phillips screw driver bit
-large dry wall square
-tape measure

Step 2: Design

Picture of design
after i gathered my materials i could then decide on a final size of the ant farm .the scrap piece of 3/4 plywood i got was 4' x 14 3/4 and my 2 pieces of glass were 27 x 13 1/8 and 1/4 thick

i knew i wanted the area between the glass to be 3 wide .which meant my final size of the side pieces measure 27 x 6 1/2 .the base measures 14 3/4 x 8 1/8 .and the top measures 8 x 11 3/8 .and you will also need two support strips that hold the top together the measure 2 x 11 3/8
aspirer11 months ago
Not "God's" clean up crew.......nature's cleanup crew. But I like your imagination
paqrat1 year ago

I am not experienced in carpentry so please excuse my ignorance. I notice you mention a possible problem with the router wandering into the softer wood. If you used MDF instead of plywood wouldn't you eliminate that problem. Also wouldn't the MDF also be less prone to flexing? Seems flexing might not be good with glass. Although the thickness of plywood may not allow that much flex.

somebullcrap (author)  paqrat1 year ago
i have never worked with mdf but i would assume that since it is more consistent i don't think you would have a problem with the router wondering .as for flexing .i really couldn't say
hope that helps
good luck with your project
I teach high school science and have been looking for a giant ant farm for my classroom. I can't make one myself - no skills at all that way. Would you be willing to make one and ship it if I paid you? I really love your idea. We have two museums up here - the Virginia Living Museum and the Virginia Aquarium. I work with people at both and if they saw one in my class they might also be interested. Sorry to hear you GF is so allergic to ants. Hopefully you can store it somewhere and perserve your ants over the winter.
blkhawk3 years ago
Bravo! Great idea for science project or museum exhibit.
What kind of sand did you use?
I have some play sand but it's really fine and I was wondering if their tunnels would hold up in it.
pink_man_5 years ago
 how deep do you have to dig to get the queen????? i want to have a whole family
somebullcrap (author)  pink_man_5 years ago
im not sure i got a queen  .if youre interested in collecting your own ants i would recommend doing some research on the types of ants in your area .trying to find out where in the mound the queen lives .i found threw my own research that the fire ants dig as far down as 25 feet  .but i dont recall finding out how deep the queen usually resides
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It is a generalised theory that most species of ant evolved from the common bull ant which closely resembles a wasp minus the wings, stinger and all.
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the bullant actually DID evolve from the wasp. saw it on science channel.
and they can't speculate on the science channel? don't believe everything they say on tv, i'm not saying it's not true, it could be, but the truth is that scientists don't know for sure
FeedTheGrid5 years ago
Well done.
benthekahn6 years ago
Another instructable says that ants can be captured by putting a bucket over their nest and lining the top inside rim with oil. Apparently the ants will try to climb into the bucket but slip on the oil, and be unable to get out.
Lftndbt6 years ago
Nice work!! Good to see another ant lover. The unit looks rather functional and also lends itself to being finished. If you were to edge that ply on the front face and stain the unit it could be placed in a lounge room as a center piece.

How do you give your ants sugar?
Do you find the colony consumes a lot of solid food?
Were you able to find the queen?

If you drilled multiple 1mm holes over the top the covered it from the inside with fine screen mesh you may get some good ventilation happening.
Be very very careful when giving the ants food which is "past its prime". A mould break out in the lower quadrants of the nest will surely devastate the population.
Another very interesting part of formicariums are the foraging areas. Not only is it amazing to watch their tunneling habits, it can also be astounding especially for children, to observe the foraging behaviours on a flat surface of area. Your setup could easily be adapted down the track to incorporate something similar to

On a side note I keep Australian Bull ants. I should update my I'ble with photos of them in the nest.
Here's a tiny pic, I didn't want to add load time to your I'ble with a heavy close ups.
somebullcrap (author)  Lftndbt6 years ago
to feed them i wait till early morning or late night when they have slowed in activity and then i unscrew the top .again while researching before this project i found fire ants prefer foods high in fat which i have found to be true .my mom cut the fat off some beef she was going to stew and i fed that to the little guys and it was all gone within an hour .and no i was not able to find a queen although i did get about 5 winged ants which are the "king" and queen potentials though i'm not sure if they will mate in captivity since it often takes place up in the sky oh and as much as i'd like to put that ant farm inside my girlfriend is highly allergic to them .as in a couple bite could kill her .so i'm not going to take that chance