LEARN ABOUT THE ANT LIFE CYCLE

Without getting too technical we need to know that, as far as life history goes, insects come in two types. Those that produce larvae as young and those that produce nymphs as young. Your ants are of the type that produce larvae. Ok, if you really want to know, these are the Holometabolous insects. The other type, such as grasshoppers and cockroaches are called Hemimetabolous insects. You won’t need to know any of this to enjoy your ant farm!

Ant Life Cycle Figurines

Ant Eggs

Great for a school project or just to have on your nature table. The four stages of the ant life cycle. Eggs, larvae, cocoon and a very cute adult!  You get the same life cycle in butterflies and moths but because they are so much larger, the familiar larval stage, the caterpillar is much more obvious to us. Ok, it might not be everyone’s idea of a gift but this year you can be confident that no-one’s bought the same gift as you!

Real Ant Paperweight

Ant Paperweight

A 2″ x 1.25″ block of crystal clear resin that encases three real ants of different species. Just like modern day amber! With their powerful jaws, these guys are seriously scary. You wouldn’t want to be bitten by one! The ants in question are the Big-Head Ant, Red-Head Bow Ant and the Black Carpenter Ant.

Gian Ant Life Cycle Puzzle

 

Ant Puzzle

Remember all that stuff I was talking about before? You know – eggs, larvae, pupae etc.? Well, it’s all here in a giant 20″ x 30″ foam puzzle that gives you the whole story! For ages 4+ (but you can always play with it after the kids have gone to bed!)

The Life & Times of the Ant

Ant BookBy Charles Micucci. Micucci’s cheerful account emphasizes the prolific insect’s history, industry, and sociability. Each busy spread introduces an aspect of the ant’s life cycle and its work in tunneling and maintaining the colony. Brief text is accompanied by an informative array of captioned watercolor sketches. Cartoon figures of ants in human guise are liberally sprinkled among the more factual drawings. Suitable for Age 5 and up.

Ant Life Cycle Stamps

Rubber stamps

Who on earth comes  up with these ideas? Well, your guess is as good as our but they’re a great idea for kids aren’t they? These quality rubber hand stamps show all four life cycle stages of an Ant in a fresh new way.The durable block handles and rubber faces stand up to classroom use. Four stamps depict egg, larva, pupa and adult. Doesn’t come with an ink pad but you can get a nice three-color one here.

Wild Science Ant Mine

ant mine ant farmA little different from the usual sand-filled ant farm, the ant mine uses a plaster of paris template that you create yourself, using materials in the kit. It’s a bit of an unusual concept but it seems to work well, according to the positive reviews that thrilled users have left.

ant farm divider

The life cycle of the ants nest

There are many thousands of species of ant and some of them have life cycles rather different from the one described here. But this one is one that is typical of the great majority. We have deliberately kept it simple, but there are many mechanisms operating within the nest that control just how and when different events occur. We’ll gloss over these for now. Because it’s a cycle, we can start anywhere in the loop, so let’s start with a newly-mated queen. She has recently left her nest, on the wing, along with many other would-be queens and males. She has mated with one or more males during her flight and now searches out a suitable nest site. Depending on what species she is it could vary, from open sandy areas to soil or trees in dense woodland.

.

She then installs herself in a sealed chamber and lays a small batch of eggs. These soon hatch into larvae and the queen looks after them and feeds them on small unfertilised eggs that she lays especially for the purpose. The larvae then pupate, and ultimately hatch as the first cohort of workers. They soon leave the nest and start finding food to bring back to the nest for themselves and the queen.

.

The queen continues to lay eggs but now the responsibility for caring for them lies with the workers. They make sure the eggs, larvae and pupae are well ventilated, cleaned and fed. From now on, the queen’s sole job is to lay eggs. Most of the time, all of these eggs develop into workers. The workers attend to her every need and she never leaves the nest again. The queen is the only ant in the nest that is capable of laying eggs, all the workers are sterile.

.

Depending on the size of the nest, the time of year, and the temperature among other things, the queen will now begin to lay a different type of egg. These eggs will develop into new queens and males. Once they have developed, they will wait in the nest until the right combination of temperature, wind and also pheromones from other nearby nests takes place. Then these new queens and males will leave their nest and begin the cycle that we started with.

.

Some nests can be very long lived, maybe ten years or more, and are always dependent on an individual queen. Typically the workers live between 45 and 60 days so the ants in your ant farm will ultimately have to be replenished because ant farms have no queen.