If, however you took the time to watch them you would learn a lot about their above-ground operations. Of course, we can learn about the underground operations too, but this investigation will focus on what they do in the light and specifically, what food they’re attracted too.
Ants are important; they keep the environment in balance. Many animals, like ant lions, echidnas and frogs eat them. They are also great scavengers, cleaning the world of dead animals or crumbs left behind from a picnic in the park.
So, here’s a wildlife investigation that’s interesting and enjoyable for children.
The Ant experiment
It’s important that children be supervised at all times during this experiment. Ants can bite and precautions should be made to ensure your child does not get bitten. Do not touch ants and make sure your feet are covered with closed-in shoes.
Hypothesis: What foods do ants like most?
Food A: honey
Food B: broccoli
Food C: bread
Beside a busy line of ants place the different food types.
Check the food at 15 minutes and 30 minute sessions and document your findings on the data sheet.
Open-ended questions for children:
- Which food do you think the ants will be attracted to? Why?
- What do you think the ants will do once they find a food they like?
During the experiment
- How many ants are around each bit of food?
- What are they doing with the food?
After the experiment
- Which food was the ants favourite?
- Why do you think it was the ants favourite?
- Do you think there was anything that might have made the experiment biased? E.g. positions of the food?
We concluded that ants:
- like honey best of all the food.
- weren’t very interested in the broccoli, first just touching it and then walking away (who can blame them?)
- were least interested in the water.
- liked the bread but not as much as the honey. A few ants started carrying a little piece of bread away but only a few ants stayed around the bread.
It was curious watching the ants that around the honey.
A couple of ants found the honey, lingered around it for a minute and then walked off. When I asked Miss Possum why she thought they were scurrying away, she said “they might be telling the others”. Within a few minutes the line of ants thickened and ants started to stay on the honey. Then, heaps of ants surrounded the honey.
Most types of ants are attracted to anything that is sweet, so even if there is a drop of honey or little jam on the floor, ants will get attracted towards it. Ants are such sweet addicts that they experience an almost magnetic pull towards jam in the sandwich, honey, sugar, lemonade, etc. (Buzzle, November 2011)
Why not try a similar ant experiment using sweet or salty and fruit or vegetables foods.
- Extend with a movie – The Ant bully
- Find out more about ants at National Geographic
- Learn about an antlions – an amazing predator to ants.
- Read books like: Ant Cities by Authur Dorro
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hanna Hoose
Ants by Cheryl Coughlan