Ant farms: July 2012 Archives

Hi AntBlog,

I am an elementary school teacher and I am looking for a project to do with my students on ants? Do you have any ideas?

Thank you,

Dear Maria,

We are really glad you want to include ants into your classroom activities!

There are many potential ways to include ants into classroom and teaching, including 1) having a living ant farm in the classroom, 2) participating in the School of Ants, or 3) becoming an Urban Ant Collector.

Ant Farm: You can learn more on making your own ant farm and finding and/or purchasing ants for the farm here, here, and here.

School of Ants: School of Ants is a nationwide citizen science program interested in getting people from across the USA to collect their local ants and send them into a lab in North Carolina so they can make a map of all the ant species found. It is easy to participate and all you need are a few common items (read here for the list). Once you have put out your "baits" you just put them in the freezer overnight to kill the ants, and then ship them off for identification. Once identified you can log in and see what ant species your classroom collected! It is a great way to see not only your local ant diversity, but also how your ant community compares to other locations.

Urban Ant Collector: Using an Android smart phone app, you can collect ants like a professional while adding to our knowledge of the planet's biodiversity. You can read more about this program here.

Best of luck,
Corrie Moreau & the AntAsk Team

I dug up a pogo ants nest and I have about 10 queen and 10 kings but none of them are fertilized how do I get them to mate?


Dear Jarvis,

We are glad to hear you are interested in ants! Unfortunately it is very difficult (and impossible for many species) to get ants to mate in captivity. Most ant species need to go on a mating flight, where unmated queens and males (these are often called "sexuals") leave their nests to reproduce based on environmental queues. During these mating flights, the sexuals from all the nearby nests will congregate in a single location to find mates. Below is an image taken by Alex Wild showing one of these mating swarms.

Mating swarm.jpg

Ant mating swarm - Photo by Alex Wild (

For more tips on keeping ants and getting mated queens for your ant farm, see the following three posts here, here, and here.

Best of luck!
Corrie Moreau & the AntAsk Team


Thanks for writing such an awesome website! Would you please help me.
I have several panes of glass and instructions on how to build an ant
farm. That's not the problem. The problem is where do I get ants from?
I live in Northeast Arkansas and I do see ants outside, mainly little
black ones. A day ago I saw larger red ones going through my garden
collecting every insect they could find. Today they were nowhere to be
found. Do I always need to start with one queen? Do I just dig one up.
Hope you can help me. My son is very impatient :) He wants his ant
farm. Well, I am just as eager to get this going too.

Thanks for your time,

Hi Daniel,

Thank you very much for contacting us! It is a very common question how to get ants for an ant farm and we have several posts on the topic. Check out this link:

If you want some ants quickly, I suggest just collecting a bunch of workers from one colony. They will die within a couple of weeks, but your son will have something to look at in the meantime and it will be interesting to observe them for a while. After most or all the workers have died, remove the remaining once and add new once. Without a picture, it is always hard to tell which ant species you might have encountered. However, largish red ants in NE Arkansas are probably a Formica species. They do not sting, but are very fast-running and a bit difficult to catch. Right now it's so hot and dry in that part of the country that all the ants have gone pretty deep under ground. Still, early in the morning, one might be able to find some near the surface, in their mounds (Formica builds mounts), or under cover objects such as rocks, logs and boards. It will be easier after we finally get some rain, though!

Good luck,
James Trager, Steffi Kautz & the AntAsk Team

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