Introduction: Artificial Diet for Ants

Which better pet for an Evil Mad Scientist than ants ? And which better instructable for the contest than a recipe for ants with eggs ?

Ants are everywhere on the planet, they have conquered the world : ants account for 15 to 20% of the animal biomass, up to 25% in sub tropic regions.

If you want to keep ants at home, in an ant farm or formicarium to observe the life of the colony, you'll have to feed them. This recipe is simple and made of agar, egg, honey, vitamins, minerals and water.

It's great for children who will learn to know a common insect, it's great for curious people who want to see what happens in a colony habitually hidden, it's great for makers who have an excuse to do multiple and different artificial ant nests.

One can give many different food to ants, but the recipe from Bhatkar and Whitcomb is very convenient and effective.

It is describe in the scientific paper : Bhatkar A., Whitcomb W.H., 1970. — Artificial diet for rearing various ant species.The Florid. Entomol., 53, 229–232.

Direct link to the pdf

It is often referred to this diet as "Bhatkar diet" (like in "The ants" by Bert Hölldobler,Edward O. Wilson p. 632)

Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

For this recipe you'll need some tools

    • some measuring cup
    • a mixing foot
    • a kitchen scale
    • containers
    • a kettle

    and as ingredients

    • water (500cc = 500 ml)
    • honey (62ml = 1000 US minims)
    • agar-agar (5gr)
    • vitamins and minerals (I use pollen for those)

    Step 2: Prepare the Agar Solution

    Take 5 grams of Agar (ok, I was not able to get 5 grams with my kitchen scale, so I have 6)

    Pour 250cc (equal 250ml or 25cl) of boiling water and mix it with the blender.

    Step 3: Mix Egg, Honey and Vitamins

    Keep aside the agar solution, while it cools down. You have time.

    In another measuring cup, pour 250cc of water (ambient temperature).

    Put into it one raw egg, 62ml (approximately) of honey, vitamins and mineral (I use a table spoon of pollen).

    I use pollen for vitamins because the original vitamin-mineral capsule is no more available.You could replace it with bird vitamins for example, or don't use vitamins at all.

    Mix it.

    Step 4: Pour the 2 Solution Together

    Very important to ensure jellification : the agar must be heated at more than 70° celsius for 3 minutes to jellify when it cools down. If you don't wait before mixing the two solutions together, it won't jellify.

    Personally I don't wait the agar solution to cool down to room temperature before mixing with the other part as prescribed in the article. I've waited 20 minutes this time (I usually wait as few as 5 minutes). The agar solution was liquid except a small jelly at the surface.

    Just mix the two solutions and use your blender one more time.

    Step 5: Pour Into Containers and Wait

    At this point, you just have to pour the recipe in containers and wait.

    It will cool down and jellify.

    When it will be at room temperature, it will be solid.

    Step 6: Preservation and Usage

    Once it is jellified, you can use it or keep it in the refrigerator for a few weeks until it molds (one or two weeks, sometimes more), or a longer time frozen (months).

    Unfroze when needed, the amount you need for one or two weeks.

    When unfroze, the consistency of the diet may vary.

    Remember it is better to vary food, do not rely only on this diet. By the way, it is very convenient and practical when you don't have time or another source of food.

    Egg Contest 2016

    Participated in the
    Egg Contest 2016