Ant Farm illustration
Written by: Rebecca Clark
Illustrated by: Sabine Deviche

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Colonies: a group of the same kind (species) of plants or animals living together... more

Nocturnal animal: animal that is active at night... more

Rotund: round and large.

What's an Ant Farm?

Fish bowl

In case you were wondering, an ant farm’s scientific name is a Formicarium, from the Latin words Formis (ant) and arium (a place for). You might be familiar with other places for living things such as terrariums (for land plants and animals) and aquariums (for plants and animals that live in water).

Farming... ants? Who ever heard of such a thing? Sure, humans farm corn and tomatoes, but ants! Other than chocolate-covered ants, ants don’t seem like they would be good to eat!! So why do people create ant farms?

Well, have you ever watched ants going into and out of their nest, and wondered what was going on underground? It’s pretty hard to find out from the surface. If you dig up the nest, the ants get pretty upset! So the simplest way to watch what ants do inside their nest is to trick them into thinking they’re underground when they actually are not. You can do this by putting them in an ant farm.

Now don't get an ant farm mixed up with ants that farm. Believe it or not, there’s actually a kind of ant that farms its own food, a type of mushroom. These are the leafcutter ants. Could you imagine having an ant farm of farming ants? Now that sounds complicated!

What Does it Take to Build Your Own Ant Farm?

Good ant farms have clear, flat sides with a thin layer of soil sandwiched in the middle, so the ants can dig tunnels in the soil. They should also contain space towards the top where the ants can search for food. Lastly, a good ant farm should be well-sealed to prevent ants from escaping, because they are extremely good escape artists. It’s not fun to find ants in a place where they aren’t supposed to be.

building an ant farm

Ant Farm Made from two CD cases.

If you look around the Web you will see that ant farms come in many shapes and sizes. You can even buy an ant farm, but here at Ask A Biologist we have instructions for how to build a simple ant farm out of two Compact Disk (CD) cases that is very cool. It is easy to make, but if you are young you might need a parent or teacher to help.

While you are building your ant farm you might be thinking of some good ideas for ant science experiments, and other creative ways to build ant farms.

Got Ants?

Making an ant farm is fun, but before you get started building your own ant farm, you’re probably wondering, how can you find and collect ants? Also, which ants should you look for to put in your new ant farm? We have all the information you need on these two things and even what to do with your new ant farm once you have it filled with ants.

Ant Experiments

This is when the real fun begins. You’ve got ants, and they’re in an ant farm, so now what? How about trying some of our ant experiments? You might even have some experiments of your own that you would like to try.

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Ant Farm
  • Author(s): Rebecca Clark
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: June 10, 2009
  • Date accessed: June 20, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Rebecca Clark. (2009, June 10). Ant Farm. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved June 20, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Rebecca Clark. "Ant Farm". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 10 June, 2009.

MLA 2017 Style

Rebecca Clark. "Ant Farm". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 10 Jun 2009. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 20 Jun 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
Build an Ant Farm

 Learn about the lives of ants.

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