Ant farms were first invented as a way for researchers and scientists to study how ants behave and interact with each other, but it wasn’t long before they became popular educational toys. They’re suitable for both school and home use and are often included as part of a STEM curriculum.
Ant farms also make an interesting conversation starter when used as decoration in a home, especially illuminated gel models. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know when buying an ant farm. Check out some top models, including the Evviva Sciences Ant Habitat. It has an eye-catching modern design and requires very little maintenance.
What to know before you buy an ant farm
Enjoyment and education
Ant farms are entertaining for both kids and adults, but they can also be a source of education. By watching how the ants build their tunnels and interact with each other, you can learn about insect communication and architecture. If there’s a queen in the colony, you can also learn about their hierarchy.
Setting up an ant farm is relatively simple and most units include detailed instructions. That being said, it should always be done under adult supervision. Most ants bite or sting as a defense mechanism. Some species may be too small to effectively hurt humans; however, bites and stings from larger species can be very unpleasant.
As with setup, maintenance is also generally easy but should still be done under adult supervision. Maintaining an ant farm includes feeding, watering and periodically cleaning out debris or dead ants.
Before buying an ant farm for yourself or your child, consider if one is suitable for your household. It needs to be placed in an area safe from rambunctious pets or clumsy guests. You should also ask yourself if your child is ready for the responsibility of an ant farm.
Features to look for in a quality ant farm
Types of filler
Most ant farms come with a gel or sand filler material. This is where the ants will construct their tunnels and living chambers.
Gel: Many people may prefer gel as a filler medium because of its translucency, which allows you to see every activity of the ants. Gel ant farms require less maintenance because the filler contains all the moisture and nutrients the ants need, and tunnels constructed in it are less likely to collapse during transport. Many gel ant farms are illuminated, too, which gives them a cool, modern look.
Sand: Though sand ant farms require more maintenance, they’re better for long-term colonies. This environment more closely mimics the dark, underground tunnels where they live in the wild, and it allows you to vary your ants’ food source.
Ant farms either come in thin sandwich models or thicker structures that may be curved, square or other shapes. Sandwich-style farms provide greater visibility into everything the ants do, but they’re only intended to house worker ants, as they don’t offer enough room for a queen’s chamber.
Some ant farms include the ants and some don’t. Those that don’t may include a coupon for purchasing ants from an associated stock farm. Another option is to harvest your ants from the wild. Many people may prefer to choose a model that comes with ants for the simple convenience they offer.
How much can you expect to spend on an ant farm
Most ant farms for the home consumer are reasonably priced. You can expect to spend $10-$30 on the average model. If you’re looking for a large, elaborate ant farm, you may spend anywhere from $40-$300.
Ant farm FAQ
What kind of ants should I put into my farm?
A. Carpenter ants and harvester ants are perfect for ant farms because they adapt well to most environments. If you’re catching your own ants from outside, avoid using fire ants.
What should I feed my ants?
A. If you have a gel ant farm, no feeding is necessary. In a sand ant farm, you must provide your ants with a protein food source, a sugary food source and water. The protein can be dead or live bugs. The sugary food source can be anything from actual sugar to fruit or bread crumbs. Another option is to buy packaged ant food that contains all the required nutrients.
What’s the best ant farm to buy?
Top ant farm
What you need to know: With built-in illumination and a gel filler, this is a visually appealing farm that’s just as suitable for adults as it is children.
What you’ll love: It requires almost no maintenance and comes with a magnifying glass for closer study of the inhabitants.
What you should consider: The gel can develop mold over time due to the poor ventilation.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top ant farm for the money
What you need to know: This whimsical farm features a fun picnic motif and includes a STEM learning guide to teach kids about their new pets.
What you’ll love: It offers a large viewing area and you can connect multiple units together to build a giant ecosystem using the included connector tubes.
What you should consider: Ordering ants from the company can take a long time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The Navadeal Ant Farm Castle is an easy-to-set-up option that comes with a transparent, plant-based gel that acts as both a feeding and tunneling material.
What you’ll love: It’s backed by a lifetime guarantee and comes with useful tools for studying and caring for your ants.
What you should consider: Some people may prefer a larger model.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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