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All The Little Ants Are Marching....*

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Monday, March 10, 2008

All The Little Ants Are Marching....*

*I couldn't help it...I did it again -- name that tune!

I got the boys ant farms for Christmas this year. I had found them at Walgreen's of all places on Black Friday and let me tell you, those Uncle Milton Ant Farms are SO cute, I also got one as a 5th birthday gift for my college roommate's son. The kit includes a coupon with which you can send away for female worker harvester ants...or you can order them online. The weather has to be opportune before the company will ship the ants...especially when it's cross-country, as it was in our case.

I mailed the ant coupons on the first business day after Christmas, and had nearly forgotten about it! They arrived this past Wednesday or Thursday in the mail while I was working in SC. When I got back Saturday night, we set up the ant farms, opened up the vials and let the games begin!

First of all, we assembled the ant farms and the boys asked us to mark whose farm was whose. (Or is it "who's farm was who's"???). So we did that:

From 2008 03 10 An...

Jacob's Farm -- his name is written on the base w/ a Sharpie

From 2008 03 10 An...
Timmy's Farm

Then we randomly chose a vial of ants for each boy. Dave dumped one vial into Timmy's...I dumped the other vial into Jake's. I had an easy time...the ants went right in, but Dave had to run upstairs for some tweezers from his model railroading supplies to pick up the ants that wiggled out from the container and ended up on our kitchen counter. With just a slight bit of effort, we got all the ants contained.

It turned out that my vial was so easy to put in Jake's ant farm because most of them were dead. Probably no more than 10 of the 25-or-so ants were alive. Boo. That might have been because we let them sit in the vial for too long...

But Timmy's were alive and well, and his vial somehow ended up with two larvae, which are pictured here:

From 2008 03 10 An...
I had to hop online and do a little research to figure out why the ants kept on picking up and carrying those larvae all over the place...apparently ants take turns "babysitting", and they have to keep it fed and at the correct temperature. They keep moving the larvae from the lower level (sand for tunneling) and the upper level (fake plastic farm scenes).

Jake was quite discouraged at first at the "mass graves" -- piles of ant death all over his farm.

Each of the farms comes with tubing with which you can connect more than one ant farm together, so that's what we did:

From 2008 03 10 An...
It took 2 days before the ants from one side were allowed over to the other side. Each side had posted a sentry-type ant at each end of the upper tube and kept the others from passing through. We set up the ant farms on Saturday, and this afternoon (Monday) the boys and I came home from errands and saw the following:

From 2008 03 10 An...
The upper tube connects the upper halves (fake farms) and those pink specks are bits of pink sugar cookie crumbs I had dropped in on Saturday night. The lower tube connects the sanded lower halves and you see bits of sand that the ants had to clear to open up that route.

So as of Monday afternoon, the ants are freely traveling between the two farms and are working together to clear the dead ant carcasses and dig some tunnels.

Stay tuned -- these farms are quite addictive to watch!

PS: Enjoy the ant tune here.

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2 Comments:

At Monday, March 10, 2008 at 6:12:00 PM CDT , Blogger  said...

Oooh, that's so cool! Keep us posted. It sure looks sterile inside those farms, lol.

 
At Monday, March 10, 2008 at 9:33:00 PM CDT , Blogger Maryann Goldman said...

The boys and I did this ant farm this past fall:
http://shopping.discovery.com/product-60059.html?jzid=40587878-5-0&seqStr=ant+farm+
It was a blast. Glad to see you guys are sharing in the excitement too.

 

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