Antworks FAQ

Instructions and Interesting Facts                                          


                                               A Space Age Habitat For Ants!                                           





                     Table of Contents                                                                                          

                                   Table of Contents                                                                        


                                   Directions for Use                                                                       

                                   Ant Facts                                                                                

                                   Various Types of Ants                                                                   

                                   Suggested Reading                                                                       

                                   Order Form                                                                              









    Ant Astronauts?
Do you have what it takes to become an astronaut? NASA has some pretty strict requirements for its extra-terrestrial voyagers. A Space Shuttle pilot must have a science degree and over 1,000 hours of jet flying .
Mission specialists must possess a respectable amount of scientiest knowledge in their field. For other types of astronauts, NASA has a much stricter set of requirements such as having two stomachs and six legs!                                   



    On a mission to study insect life in near-weightlessness, the Space Shuttle carried                               

into orbit a special ant habitat very similar to Fascinations AntWorks®.  NASA                                     

wanted to see how ants would tunnel in micro-gravity, however traditional soil-                                   

based ant habitats posed a problem.  The tremendous G-forces and shaking during                                   

liftoff and re-entry would collapse the tunnels (not to mention how dificult it                                   

would be to try giving ants food and water on a regular basis in a near weightless                                



    Rather than using soil, an ant habitat was created utilizing a special gel that                                    

would not collapse during lift-off (which would crush the ants) and serve as a                                    

food and water source for these ant astronauts.  Your new toy is based                                        

on technology used by NASA in the shuttle experiment.                                                             


    The habitat allows you to study the behavior of ants in a unique, self-                                          

contained environment.  This translucent gel not only serves as a tunneling                                       

medium for the ants, but is their food and water source as well.  The                                    

gel is loaded with nutrients and supplements to promote healthy growth in the                                     

new colony.  You will become fascinated as the ant architecture develops and                                      

may come to agree that these insects are a lot more intelligent than most people                                  






                     Directions For Use                                                                                         


 1.   Open your kit.  Using the enclosed stick, poke four holes in the gel.  Make two of the holes about 1 inch deep and make the other two  inch deep.  These will help get the ants started tunneling.                                                   


 2.   Insert about 20-25 ants into your container and  (ants close the lid not included with product).  You can either collect your own ants, or use the enclosed order form.  If you collect your own ants  DO NOT mix different species of ants in the same container (they dont play well with others).  We recommend ordering Harvester Ants from (see enclosed order form).  Harvester Ants are the optimum size for viewing and have large mandibles for tunnel construction.  Your AntWorks® includes a magnifying glass for detailed inspection of the ants and tunnels.                     


3.   NEVER handle ants with your bare hands or allow them to come in contact with skin!  Some ants sting, others bite, and some will spray formic acid.                            


4.   DO NOT store the kit in direct sunlight.  Ants prefer shade.  Room                                      

temperature (58-74 degrees Fahrenheit) is the preferred temperature for your                                      

AntWorks®.  Avoid extremes of heat or cold.                                                                        


5.   Be patient at first.  The ants may take up to 24-48 hours to start tunneling.  The                            

gel is an alien environment to the ants and it can take some getting used to.                                     


6.   Although the ants require little oxygen, opening the lid for a few seconds every                             

week or so gives these hard workers a breath of fresh air.  Actually, ants have no                                

lungs, but take in oxygen through little holes in their bodies.                                                   


7.   R.I.P. XxX Adult ants (workers) normally live an average of 1-3 months (3 months                               

is considered high).  Some ants will outlive this span, while others will expire                                  

before one month.  As all of the ants you will use (whether ordered or collected                                  

on your own) are adults, circumstances in their development will cause some                                       

to be hardier than others.  Although your AntWorks ® gel contains special                                           

ingredients to help prevent infections throughout the colony from bacterial and                                   

fungal growth, it is a good idea to remove dead ants as soon as possible with a                                   

small stick or cotton swab.  Should an ant die within one of the tunnels, other                                   

ants will usually transport the body to the surface.  This is how ants help prevent                                

disease within the colony  see how smart they are!                                                               




8.   Ant Architecture is not just limited to the tunnels.  Your ants will also use         

Building blocks created from the gel to line the AntWorks ®walls and form                 

hills on the surface.  Some species even use the gel to encase dead ants on the            

surface.  To ensure maximum visibility, it is important to remove the dead ants as         

they appear (its also good manners!).                                                     


 9.   When your ant colony expires, use a cloth or paper towel to clean the                 

 AntWorks ®walls (and any dead ants or residue).  Add some fresh ants and                    

 see how they react to and modify the existing tunnels.                                     


Remember antworks ants like it best when your                                                                                               

AntWorks is in the shade.                                                                                                      




                     Interesting Ant Facts                                                                                       


Think you’re smart?  Harvester ant colonies can have as many as 40-50 thousand             

 ants.  Such a colony would collectively have about the same number of brain cells          

 as a human being!                                                                          


Speaking of communication - ants talk to each other using scent, sound, touch            

and sight.  You can witness ants in your AntWorks® talk to each other by                  

 touching antennae.  Ants will also gather together in groups (planning committee           

 perhaps?).  You will notice evidence of ant teamwork being used in such things as          

 connecting two tunnels.  That has to be planned somewhere, right?                          

 Bodily waste  Ants in your AntWorks ®dispose of waste matter, just like any                

  other ant.  Evidence will be in the form of small, brown spots/streaks (usually in         

  the corners).                                                                              



Is that Sam or Samantha?

Should you decide to name your ants, take into account that they are all female.  This includes all the ant workers, soldiers, etc. that you find outdoors.  Male ants are created only as needed by the colony for reproductive purposes and they die shortly after mating.                                                          

AntWorks ®activity is going on 24/7.  While some ants are sleeping, others                                         

are hard at work.  Check to see that an ant is actually dead, before removing her                                 

from the AntWorks ®.


Is there a myrmecologist in the house? 

Myrmecology is the study of ants                                          

(either scientifcally or as a hobby).  By studying the behavior of ants in your                                   

ANTWORKS®, you become a myrmecologist (lab coat not included).                                                     

Ant lions, spiders and birds !! oh my!  Ants have many predators, in addition to                                    

the infamous anteater.  Ant lions dig traps using loose dirt, waiting for the ants                                

to fall in.  Spiders, wasps and birds and ants tasty as well.  The ants in your                                   

ANTWORKS ®are not only safe from these predators, but don’t have to forage                                         

for food, as there’s plenty of nutritious gel around!                                                             

How much can you bench?  If you decide to name your ants, you might choose                                        

Armstrong as a surname.  Ant workers can carry up to 50 times their own weight.                                   

If humans could do this, the proverbial 98 lb. weakling could still lift nearly two                             

and a half tons!                                                                                                  




 Impressive record

Ants are one of Earth’s oldest existing residents.  Ant fossils have been found that date back over 100 million years.  When the Tyrannosaurus Rex last walked the earth, ants already had a 35+ million year old claim on the planet!                                                                                    


The ants you see today are not that much different than those found over 100 million years ago.  Ants adapted to their environment so well over the eons, that there was little need to evolve further.  Other examples of creatures nature saw it to leave alone over time are the crocodile and the shark.                    


Family resemblance? 

Take a close look at the ants in your container.             

Now imagine them yellow and black with wings.  Scientists (they love to classify           

 things) put ants in the same group as wasps.  Still, a wasp dying into your house          

 will get much more attention than the humble ant!                                          


  It goes right to my hips. 

Ants across the world eat a variety of foods.  Harvester Ants collect and eat seeds, Leaf-Cutter Ants eat fungus and Army Ants eat pretty much whatever gets in their way.  Most ants crave sugars and can detect the smell of sweet foods from very far away.  Ants add protein to their diet by eating dead insects (caterpillars are a favorite).  Ants will use their extra stomach to store food for other members of the colony.  Given that your ants are           

 surrounded by the ANTWORKS ® nutritious gel, there is plenty to eat for all.                 


Hypno forma what?

 Don’t just call them bugs.  Technically, ants are insects (the                                    

whole six-legs thing).  Even more technically, ants are Hymenoptera Formicidae.                                 

The Hymenoptera is the wasp part, while the Formicidae is the ant part.  It’s all                                 

Greek to me.                                                                                                       


Don’t get them mad!  Ants represent only .001 of Earth’s insects, yet there are over                              

10,000,000,000,000,000 of them alive right now.  There are only 6,000,000,000                                     

humans.  For those of you who don’t like zeros, the ants out number us 1,666,666                                  

to one.                                                                                                            

Making sense of it all & Ants have a very keen sense of smell (through their                                      

antennae) and the ability to secrete pheromones.  These pheromones can be used                                     

to identify a colony (each has its own scent) and to create a navigation trail when                               

foraging for food (much like Hansel and Gretel with the breadcrumbs).                                             

Who pays for dinner?  In a nutshell, ant reproduction goes like this:  The male and                               

princess ants (both have wings) and fly away from the nest, mating during night.  The                                  

princess ant loses her wings, becoming a queen (starting her own nest), while the                                 

male dies soon after the mating flight.  The queen creates male ants about once per                                

year and they exist solely for mating.                                                                       


                               Various Types Of Ants                                                                                      


Harvester Ants are available using the enclosed order form.  These ants are great         

 for study, as they are of a good size and have large mandibles for creating tunnels       

 in the gel.  In addition to Harvester ants, there are many other fascinating types        

 of ants:                                                                                  


 Slave Maker  - These ants actually raid the nests of other ant colonies in order to       

 steal cocoons.  When the cocoons hatch, the new ants work as slaves in their new          



Dairy Ants  - As aphids suck out sweet juices from a plant, these ants will come          

along and milk the aphids.  After fiing both stomachs with nutritional liquid,         

ants will return to the colony and feed the others.  Some species use select workers      

as food banks.  These special ants live only to collect liquid food from other ants,    

storing it in their ever-expanding crops for when it is needed by hungry workers          

in the colony.                                                                            


Leaf Cutters  - These gardeners tear off chunks of leaves, carrying them back to                                  

the nest.  While these ants do not eat the leaves (they can’t digest the cellulose),                              

fungus grows from the leaves, providing a food source.                                                            


Fire Ants  - These ants cause a very painful sting and groups of them have                                        

been known to kill small animals.  Do not attempt to collect fire ants for your                                    

ANTWORKS ®!                                                                                                         


Army Ants - These ants can live in colonies with populations over several hundred                                  

thousand.  When on the march, these ants will swarm, attacking everything in                                      

their path.  Animals not able to [1]y, swim or quickly move out of the area  are                                   



Note:  DO NOT attempt to collect Army Ants for your ANTWORKS ®container.                                           

Should you see several hundred thousand very focused ants moving in your                                          

direction, we advise quickly leaving the area.                                                                    




                     Suggested Reading                                                                                         


                                   Leiningen Versus The Ants is an excellent short story by Carl Stephenson.                 

                                   Centered around a Brazilian farmers battle to protect his land from invading             

                                   Army Ants, the author provides a great illustration of this insects tenacity.  Given     

                                   the advantage of technology and being forewarned about the approaching colony,            

                                   Leiningan and his workers employ such weapons as re and water against the                

                                   relentless swarm.  Who will win in the end?  Be sure to check out this great tale         

                                   at your local library or on the World Wide Web.                                           


                     Ant Order Form                                                                                  

Catching your own ants is fun! If you have problems corralling your own colony                                    

however, just order a fresh supply from

Live ants