LED lights encourage more exploration and tunneling. Blue gel is easier to control than sand. Includes a magnifying glass for observation. Free educational e-book. Gel is packed with nutrients for sustained colony growth.
Enclosure is poorly ventilated, gel can develop mold.
Includes a whimsical, “picnic” graphic. Comes with artificial, white sand. This “giant” version offers more viewing than the original version while still being manageable in size. Sturdy and secure; no complaints of ants escaping. This “old school” ant farm appeals to nostalgic adults.
Doesn’t come with ants. Costly and takes a long time to order them from the company.
A great deal for an ant farm. Ants adjust well to this habitat and tunnel happily and within hours of assembly. Easy to set up. “Cute” at 4" x 4.4", and houses 10-15 ants. Children really love this model. Comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Smaller than expected but can be connected to other ant farms. Ants not included.
Uses a sand medium, easier for ants. Assembled tank is escape-proof. Includes 24-page educational booklet. Great for STEM educational programs. Multiple feeding holes. Very appealing background display and design.
Original packaging does not include sand. Supports can be flimsy, some modifications required.
Lights powered by USB cord; no batteries required. Includes 16-page educational guide. Ideal for STEM-learning programs. Affordable entry-level price point. Set-up is extremely easy for parents and children.
Gel material not ideal for burrowing. Lights can liquify gel medium.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
As a child, did you enjoy watching ants at work? Ants are fascinating. Milton Levine, a businessman from California, made a sizeable fortune inspired by his boyhood fascination with ants. In 1956, Levine spotted a mound of ants at a family picnic. The ants provoked a memory of how he had collected glass jars of ants when visiting his uncle’s farm in Pennsylvania.
Turning to his brother-in-law and business partner, E. J. Cossman, Levine said, “We should build an antarium.” The resulting product of Milton’s ant-inspired idea, Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm, has been a favorite toy of children for generations. The ant farm portrays a country farmhouse with a windmill and barn connected by a warren of ant tunnels, all encased in plastic. But Uncle Milton’s farm isn’t the only ant farm for kids these days. There are several good ones to choose from, and we’re here to tell you more.
An ant farm can help stimulate a child’s imagination and encourage their engagement with nature. Read on to learn about the different types of ant farms available. When you are ready to make a purchase, take a look at the ant farms we’re recommending.
Ant farms are highly entertaining. The ants are always busy, and there is always something interesting to watch. You might keep an ant farm as a casual hobby or as a means of learning. A teacher might keep an ant farm for students to study and explore.
.The study of ants and their behavior is known as myrmecology.
Adult supervision is recommended when setting up and managing an ant farm. Carefully follow the instructions provided. Keep in mind that some ants bite or sting as a protective response when touched, handled, or disturbed. If someone has a sensitivity or allergy to insects or their stings or bites, take extra precautions when setting up and maintaining your farm.
Ants ordered online are typically red harvester ants. They gladly accept offerings of honey and sugar water. Harvester ants are very easy to maintain. Your ant farm kit will come with complete instructions and a best practices guide. Follow the directions, and your ants could live up to six months in your ant farm.
If you have rambunctious children, a rowdy dog, or an inquisitive cat, set your ant farm up and out of harm’s way. You do not want your ant farm to experience a “crash and smash.” However, most brands of ant farms are designed to be unbreakable and escape-proof.
If your ant farm does get upset or overturned, your ants will survive, but the shake-up could cause tunnels to collapse and will disturb the harmony of the ant colony.
Ants require sugars (fruit, raw honey, or sugar water) and protein to survive. Sugar gives the ants the energy they need to go about their busy lives. Protein (bites of egg, cockroaches, or mealworms) are necessary for the growth of the colony. Be careful not to overfeed. Remove uneaten food to prevent mold growth in the ant house. You should receive some specific instructions regarding feeding with your ant farm.
As you observe and learn more about your ant farm, you will discover that your ants work hard to keep the colony clean. They will make a refuse pile for all debris and a graveyard for their fallen comrades. Following the instruction in your kit, remove debris from the ant farm as it accumulates.
Sandwich style: A “sandwich” type ant habitat, of which the popular Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm is an example, is typically a transparent box made from plastic or glass. The box is thin enough that the cavities and tunnels created by the ants are visible. The transparent nature of the box allows the viewer to watch the ants at work and study their behavior. This type of ant farm is normally filled with sand and soil and is an excellent teaching tool for young children. Designed as toys for children, sandwich ant farms are only meant to house worker ants.
Formicarium: A formicarium type ant habitat, designed for classroom use or laboratory research, is usually made from plastic (acrylic) or 3D printed with transparent plastic. Because they are constructed to scientific standards with the highest-quality materials, formicariums cost more than sandwich ant farms. A formicarium is typically filled with sand, soil, vermiculite, sawdust, and mineral fragments. Significantly superior to the sandwich type ant farm, today’s modern formicarium designs allow no chance of tunnel collapse.
Some formicariums offer multi-unit connecting models can accommodate additional sections, expansion bridges, and chambers. The complexity of the ant farm limited only by the imagination of the designer.
Formicariums, specifically designed for the scientific observation of the life of the ant colony, include an oversized chamber to house a queen ant with the workers. Without a queen, the colony will only survive for the duration of the life of the worker ants. Without the queen to lay eggs, no new ants are born, as all worker ants are sterile. An ant colony cannot survive long without the queen.
Fill is the organic material included with the purchase of the ant farm or provided by the purchaser that the ants use to construct their intricate tunnels and eating and living chambers.
Natural fill materials: Natural fill material is typically composed of a mixture of sand, soil, mineral fragments, sawdust, and vermiculite.
Filler gel: Some ant farms feature a translucent green or blue filler gel. The gel allows the viewer excellent visibility; the ants can be observed digging from a 3D perspective. The gel is edible and acts as a food source for the ants. However, it does not provide adequate nutrients for the ant colony, making nutritional supplementation necessary.
Using blue or green gel in your ant farm does not prevent you from feeding and interacting with your ants. However, it is best to serve them from the bottom compartment, confining all free food to the “dining hall” section of the ant display.
Many ant farms feature soft light (blue or green) to enhance the viewer’s ability to view the ants at work. This kind of ant farm makes a great night light for a child’s bedroom or a soft mood light in the classroom.
Some ant farms include the ants with the initial purchase; others require you to make a separate payment when you order ants to stock the farm. Several ant farm kits on the market include a coupon for ordering ants to be shipped through the mail.
You may also gather ants in the wild to inhabit your ant farm. Carpenter ants and harvester ants adapt well to an ant farm environment.
Queen ants cannot be shipped across state lines. If you wish to add a queen to your farm, shop for a queen from an ant supplier within your state.
Educational book: National Geographic Readers: Ants
Children love to learn, and this book is an excellent teaching tool to accompany your ant farm. Published by National Geographic, the paperback book is packed with information about ant habitat, feeding habits, care, and maintenance.
More ants: Nature Gift Store Live Ant Farm Ants
When you are ready to restock your ant farm, don’t miss out on this great value: a double order of two tubes shipped to your door. Healthy, vigorous red harvester ants are entertaining to watch and endlessly fascinating.
Magnifying glass: Magnifying Glass 3X Magnifier (Orange) for Seniors & Kids
A magnifying glass offers the viewer a closer look while ants work. Choose a lightweight, handheld glass suitable for children’s small hands to hold. Children love to get a “closer look” at nature, and a magnifying glass helps to stimulate their inquisitive minds.
Budget-friendly: In this price range, ant farms are novelty toys that are not meant to last. They are likely manufactured from inexpensive materials and may break and spill if the case drops. Ant farms in the budget-friendly price range sell for $8.99 to $11.99. If you wish to order ants, a tube of approximately 50 ants costs an additional $8.99 or so.
Mid-range: In the price range between $13 and $32, expect to find sturdy, well-constructed ant farms that are guaranteed not to break. These farms make excellent teaching tools in the classroom and are entertaining in the home, as well.
Expensive: If you desire an elaborate system of multiple chambers with connecting passages, you can find several manufacturers that offer connecting systems. With a system like this, which costs anywhere from $32 to $300, you can create an ant farm of your own design. These types of ant farms are frequently used in classroom settings.
The Light-up Ant Habitat for Kids is a great classroom teaching tool. It’s also a nice gift for children. Filled with a bright blue, space-age edible gel that glows in the dark, this ant farm is a fun night light as well. It’s an excellent value for the money.
Educational Insights Geosafari Ant Factory is an unbreakable ant farm that comes with a helpful 24-page guide as well as a coupon for ordering your ants. A tunnel-starting tool is included. Children eight years and older will love this kit.
Q. What should I do with ants when they die?
A. As they expire, you will need to remove them regularly. As mentioned, the average life span is six months, but lifespan depends on the age of the ants when you get them, the source of the ants, the condition of the kits, and other mitigating factors, such as temperature and humidity.
Q. Can I mix ants I find in the garden with ants that came with my ant farm?
A. You should not mix different kinds of ants together. If you find and capture your own, they must be gathered from the same source or ant hill. If not, they will fight and kill each other.