7 of the Best Ant Farm Options for Your Eager Entomologists

Ants are amazing creatures. They scurry around all day long, searching for food, building the nest, caring for their young, and protecting the queen. In many ways, an ant colony is like an industrious human city: everyone has a job to do, and they get on with it.

Older ant farms were very simple. They consisted of sand between two pieces of glass. Newer ant farms use brightly colored gel to create a stable ecosystem for the ants, so they look super cool. Taking care of an ant farm helps to instill a sense of responsibility in a child. They have to feed and water their ant pets every day. In return, kids can watch the fascinating way ants interact with their environment.

Kids can learn a lot from how ants live and work, and watching a farm in action offers some wonderful insights into a hidden world most people never get to see. Ant farms for kids are an excellent educational item. Children can watch their ant colony grow and thrive. However, one thing to be aware of when buying an ant farm is not all of them come with live ants. Your child will be very disappointed if he or she opens up their ant colony to discover it has no ants!

We think ant farms are awesome, and we are confident your kids will agree, so here are seven of the most amazing ant farms for kids.

What To Look For In An Ant Farm + Why

When you purchase an ant farm for your kid, you want a happy world for harvester ants to thrive. Here are some characteristics and features to consider.

Are sand or gel ant farms better? Developed by NASA, gel ant farms are self-contained ant farms. The nutrient-rich gel kit contains enough moisture, and food and maintenance are minimal. Gel ant farm tunnels don’t cave in as quickly as sand ant farm tunnels making them easier to transport.

Traditional white sand ant farms require more work but last longer than gel farms. Kids must keep the ant habitat clean and provide food and water; Ants adapt quicker in the sand than with a foreign substance like gel. It’s easier for a colony of ants to move through sand, tunneling faster than gel. Sand ant farms are generally narrower than gel aquariums, providing a better viewing area.

How do I get ants in my ant farm? A live ant farm is shipped with red harvester ants, but many come without harvester ants. If your ant farm doesn’t include live ant colonies, you can purchase a red harvester ant farm kit or a tube of live ants. Red harvester ants are the most common ants used in ant farms.

Suppliers sell worker ants; by law, they aren’t allowed to supply queens to avoid shipping non-native invasive ants. Queen ants can start new colonies that could cause problems to farmers and the ecosystem. Harvester ants don’t reproduce without a queen, which means they die without repopulating. If you decide to procure ants from a local nest, taking the only queen in the nest will destroy the ant colony.

Make sure the size of the ant farm fits where you want to place it. Is the ant farm light enough for your child to carry? What about the viewing area, the smaller the ant farm, the smaller the viewing area. Watching nature at work is part of the fun. Check for visibility. Are both sides clear for observation? Blue gel ant farms are visually appealing. An LED light in the blue gel offers clear visibility to watch nature as the ants create tunnels.

You don’t want the red harvester ants to escape and mess up the yard. Make sure the cover fits tightly, especially if your child tends to move the farm around.

A blue gel ant farm contains all the nutrients and moisture in the gel your harvester ants will need. You don’t have to feed or water the harvester ants, but you need to clean their habitat from debris and dead harvester ants. In nature, worker ants are responsible for keeping the habitat clean, but in a closed system, you need to do it for the harvester ants. Depending on the manufacturer, the gel lasts for a year or the life cycle of the harvester ants. Replacement gel isn’t available, which means you need to purchase a new unit.

Sand-filled aquariums require more work than gel aquariums but are a more natural habitat for the ants. You need to feed and water your harvester ants regularly; the sand doesn’t contain sufficient nutrients for them.

Best Ant Farm Sets for Kids Compared

Live Blue Gel Ant Habitat With Live Ants
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Ant Habitat with LED Light from Evviva Sciences
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Educational Insights GeoSafari Ant Factory
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Uncle Milton Ant Colony
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New Advanced Ant Nursery Farm Maze
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The Top Ant Habitat and Farm Reviews


Uncle Milton Giant Ant Farm

The Uncle Milton Giant Ant Farm has a large viewing area to observe live ants dig tunnels, move mountains and create bridges. The STEM learning toy about life and nature is a perfect gift for kids 6 years and up to have hours of fun while observing harvester ats tunnel their way through the sand.

The break-resistant and escape-proof self-locking device will keep the harvester ants inside and provides easy access for feeding the ants. Increase the ant farm size by linking multiple habitats together with the included connector tube.

The giant ant farm size is 2.5 x 13 x 9,25 inches. Uncle Milton’s Ant Watchers guide teaches kids about ants and how to take care of their harvester ants. Uncle Milton’s Giant Ant Farm kit includes the giant ant farm habitat, two bags of tunneling sand, a tunnel starter tool, an Antway connector tube, and the Ant Watchesr guide. Purchase a kit or tube of live ants separately.

Live Blue Gel Ant Habitat With Live Ants

Live-Blue-Gel-Ant-Habitat-with-Live-Ants

The Live Blue Gel Ant Habitat from the Nature Gift Store comes with a tube of live ants – 25 in all – so your child can have their ant farm up and running almost immediately. The blue gel inside the ant farm isn’t just for looks. This gel ant farm is packed with nutrients to promote a healthy ant colony, so no extra food or water is required.

The ant habitat is curved to maximize the ant viewing area, and a magnifying glass is provided, so kids can observe how the ants live and work in great detail. Blue gel ant farms are really neat. Within 24 hours, your ants will be well on the way to building a thriving colony!

Ant Habitat with LED Light from Evviva Sciences

Ant-Habitat-with-LED-Light-from-Evviva-Sciences

The Ant Habitat with LED light from Evviva Sciences is a truly awesome ant habitat. The cool LED lights make the ant farm look super amazing, especially at night. The LED light also encourages the ants to be extra productive, so your colony’s tunnels will be deeper and more intricate than in other ant farms. The set includes a magnifying glass and a stick to help the ants start digging. Live ants are not included, but you can order some healthy and active harvester ants from the same place. A free educational e-book on ants is also included with this any colony.

Educational Insights GeoSafari Ant Factory

Educational-Insights-GeoSafari-Ant-Factory

If your child is an aspiring entomologist, he or she will love the Educational Insights GeoSafari Ant Factory. This is an escape-proof ant habitat that allows children to observe the life cycle of ants in the comfort of their homes. The set includes a water dropper and canal starting tool to get your ant colony off to a flying start. Each ant colony also comes with a helpful 24-page book full of ant colony hints and tips. Live ants are not included, but you will receive a certificate to send off for a tube of live ants via mail.

Fascinations AntWorks Illuminated Blue

Fascinations-AntWorks-Illuminated-Blue

The Illuminated Blue AntWorks from Fascinations is a fun way to introduce your children to the delights of ant colonies. The design is based on a NASA Space Shuttle experiment. The blue gel ant farm comes with removable LED lights and a power adapter, nutrient gel to sustain the colony, an extreme zoom lens magnifying glass, ant catching, and tunnel starting tool, and an educational instruction book to get kids started. Live ants are not included, but a kit or tube of live ants can be ordered from the supplier. This ant colony makes an excellent educational accessory for a child’s bedroom or study.

Uncle Milton Ant Colony

Uncle-Milton-Ant-Colony

The Uncle Milton Ant Farm is a simple yet effective design to help kids learn more about these fascinating creatures. The ant habitat contains clean sand so the ants can build a network of tunnels for the colony. It also includes a water dropper and a year’s supply of ant food containing all the minerals, vitamins and protein industrious harvester ants need for good health. Live ants are not included, but you can order them from the supplier. The colony is break-resistant and escape-proof, so there is no chance of any ants escaping into your child’s bedroom.

New Advanced Ant Nursery Farm Maze

New-Advanced-Ant-Nursery-Farm-Maze

The Ant Nursery Farm with feeding system from NAVAdeal is an escape-proof ant farm containing a high-quality nutrient gel enriched with seaweed. No additional food or water is required and your ants will have everything they need to build a thriving ant colony. The ant nursery is located beneath the feeding system, so kids can watch ants nurture their young. Live ants are not included, but they can be ordered separately.

Ants are not your average pet, but they can offer hours of fun and fascination. Your kids will love watching their new ant pets build tunnels and nurture their babies. An ant farm is great for adults, too!

More Information About Your Ant Farm Kit

What Do You Need To Build Your Own Ant Farm?

You’ll notice there are a few characteristics that all the best ant farms we recommend share. Those include:

  • Clear, flat sides for easy viewing. It also makes it easier for the ants to dig in this environment.
  • Empty space near the top of the container so the ants can easily search for food.
  • A good, solid seal on the top of the farm so no ants escape.

What Environment Leads To Thriving Ant Farms?

One reason ant farms are so popular is the ease of care – harvester ants are a hardy bunch! There are some things to keep in mind when selecting a location for your ant habitat.

Harvester ants need a relatively humid habitat. Keep the ant farm out of the direct sun – the nest will die if kept too long in strong sunlight. The average ant farm will do best if kept in a shaded location between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have a sand ant habitat, remember that every time you move it you risk collapsing the tunnels built by your ants. It’s best to pick a location with a great viewing area and keep the ant farm there. Of course, if you have a gel ant farm, you can pick up and move your ants as you please.

What Do Ants Like To Eat?

Ants aren’t super picky – if they come across food, they will most likely eat it. This includes other dead insects, tree sap and plant seeds. However, they do have favorites. Ants seem to have a big sweet tooth. They especially enjoy sugar or candy.

Your ant farm should come with instructions on what to feed your ants. Some ant farms come with nutrient-rich gel, while others have a dirt ant habitat. The company that ships you live ants will also give you some advice. Follow their directions and you should be fine.

Most ant farms require you to provide water to your “flock”. Ants tend to dehydrate quickly

Do I Need To Provide My Own Ants?

Most sets do not provide live ants. One exception is the Live Blue Gel Ant Habitat With Live Ants (it’s in the name). It’s sometimes simpler to buy a tube of live ants than hunt for them on your own. If you want to take a hands-on approach, the biologists at ASU have put together a guide on collecting ants to help you in your adventure.

They also provide some awesome ant experiments to perform on your newfound pets.

What Type Of Ants Should I Look To Buy To Start Off?

When you buy your first tube of live ants online, get harvester ants. These worker ants are foragers who build the tunnels and mounds needed for a colony of ants to work properly. There are also bigger ants that will not fit into the gaps in your ant farm.

Can You Tell Me More About Harvester Ants?

Harvesters, like most ant species, live in colonies based on a queen being the supreme leader. The queen never leaves the colony because her task is to breed new ants. The majority of the queen’s offspring are worker ants. These red harvester ants cannot reproduce; instead, they protect the colony, find food, and keep their home in good condition. Average red harvester ants do not have wings, but the queen may bear male and female offspring with wings. Their task is to fly out into the world, find mates, multiply, and create new harvester ant colonies. A harvester colony would usually have approximately 10,000 ants.

Most ant farms do not have queens. The best ant suppliers wouldn’t risk shipping a live ant queen across state lines – if something went wrong during the delivery process a rogue queen could cause havoc with the existing wild ant habitat.

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, derekGavey.

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