Cement Scavengers – The Ant Experiment

Ant experimentAnts are tiny garden and cement scavengers that often go unnoticed in our world, unless they are all over the house. 

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?

Control: water

Food A: honey

Food B: broccoli

Food C: bread

 

Procedure:

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.

Download it here

Open-ended questions for children:

Before the experiment

  • 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?

Our Results

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.  

Why 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.

Extension Activities

                                              Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hanna Hoose

                                             Ants by Cheryl Coughlan

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Comments

  1. Grace Titioka says

    That’s so cute how Miss Possum said the ants went off to tell the others about the honey !!! And yes, who can blame them for not liking broccoli :)
    Great activity, Pen ! Keep ‘em coming !

  2. kirri says

    Ahh see, I knew ants and I had a lot in common…hanging round the sweet stuff!
    Great activity idea, especially with christmas holidays coming up.
    Fabo Pennylicious

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