We have a question for the Consult-Ant today:
I wanted to ask you if wild Harvester ants, will learn to eat the gel in a antworks gel farm.
I have an empty one and put about 30 wild, I'm pretty sure they are harvester ants, same size same color, but I am guessing of course. But my main concern is if they will learn to eat the gel or will I have to feed them. Its real nice of you to answer ? from us newbies.
Thank you very much.
I am glad to hear about your interest in ants. You are correct to be concerned about whether your harvester ants will eat the gel supplied with your ant farm.
The blue gel used in ant farms was originally put together for a short science experiment designed by students. The students were sending ants up on the Space Shuttle for a few days and they needed something that they could see the ants through and that would stay in place with no gravity. Obviously, sand would not work. They came up with the blue gel and it worked well for their experiment.
The problem is, it was never meant to be used to keep ants for a long time. Although it will keep the ants alive and they will tunnel in it, it isn't the best food for them. However, if you put a bunch of food into the gel habitat, there is a good chance you will get mold and bacteria growth, which will harm the ants.
In the video below, you can see how the person places the food on a small bit of aluminum foil. That would be a helpful way to feed your ants in the gel ant farm. Try to keep the food on the foil and replace it once a day.
Also, your harvester ants can eat the same sorts of things as shown in the video. They will accept a bit of dead insect, such as a small cricket and/or a few drops of honey and water mixed together. You can soak the honey and water into a bit of cotton or paper towel so it won't drip as much.
Here's an excellent video that shows some basic information about how to feed and keep ants:
I know it isn't as cool to look at as the gel, but people who are serious about raising ants use a test tube nest (the link shows you how to make one).
This link has a lot information about how to build/make several different kinds of ant farms, in case you want to try another kind.
It's great that you have decided to find out more about keeping ants. It can be a very interesting hobby. Let me know if you have any other questions.
(Note: As I mentioned previously, I have been the “Consult-Ant” on the Leaping from the Box website. I answer questions about ants and ant farms. From now on I will post the answers here, and when Karen has time she will also post the answers on her site.)