Build an anthill – Raising insects

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Prepare the material

What is needed for the harvest

  • A plow to collect soil.
  • A container to put the earth.
  • A spoon to collect the ants.
  • A container for transporting ants.

What you need to prepare the anthill

  • A jar of at least one liter with a lid fitted with a metal washer, the washer of which you will replace with a piece of nylon stocking.
  • A piece of wood that fits easily into the jar.
  • A sheet of black cardboard large enough to surround the anthill.
  • Sticky paper.
  • Ant food (a piece of bread for example).
  • A small piece of sponge that will serve as a water reservoir to water the ants.

Harvest the ants

Species belonging to the genera Formica and Lasius lend themselves well to harvesting. Those of the genus Formica are 6 or 7 mm long and are black. They form mounds of earth in the countryside. Small ants of the genus Lasius are brown. They live under large stones or build mounds of sand, in the countryside and in cities.

To harvest the ants, remove the top of the mound with the planter or lift the stone. Use the spoon to collect the insects (about fifty adults, larvae and nymphs, if possible the queen), in the same nest.

Collect enough soil near the colony to fill the anthill three-quarters full. Note the place of harvest, because you will come back to release the ants.

Arrange the anthill

Place the ants in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to calm them down. Prepare the anthill by putting the piece of wood and soil in the jar. Secure the black card around the jar with the sticky paper. The cardboard should cover the entire part of the pot where the soil is. Pour the ants into the anthill. Add the piece of water soaked sponge and the food. Quickly close the jar lid.

Maintenance and observation

Regularly add water and food. Examples of foods are: a small piece of banana or apple, a piece of bread, cookie or cake the size of a thumb, dandelion flowers, sugar cube, etc.

To observe the evolution of the anthill, just remove the black card. By scanning the walls over the days, you could see how the workers construct galleries, store or exchange food, tend larvae, and more. Replace the box as soon as your observations are finished. Be sure to put the insects back in their middle at the end of your project.

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