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Tips and Tricks

Ant Wrangling: Tips and Tricks

One of the trickiest parts of working with ants is getting them to stay where you want them, or moving them somewhere else without ants going everywhere. Here are a couple of tricks to keep ants where you’d like them to be:

check for holes1. Check containers carefully for holes: Ants are very good at finding even tiny holes and will use them to their advantage!

 

 

 

 

chill out2. Chill out: If you need to move ants from one container to another, you can put an ant colony in the refrigerator for a minute or two to slow the ants down. Be careful not to leave them in the refrigerator for too long, though, or they might not survive! Sometimes, cold ants can look like they have died even though they are still alive, so don’t be alarmed if they suddenly come back to life.

 

use a moat

3. Put a moat around the castle: Most ants are pretty terrible at swimming, so you can use a big dish as a moat to keep ants in a container, or you can create a moat around a container to keep the ants out if they’re really interested in it.

 

 

slippery glass

4. Slippery slopes: For some types of ants, you can use a very thin layer of oil, such as mineral oil, to keep ants from climbing up the sides of a container. You will have to keep a careful eye on it, though, because eventually the ants will wear it down until they are able to get across!

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Ant Farm Activity, Download PDF

Learn about the lives of ants.
PDF | Video

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.