Ants
Gr K-5 Insects Home
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ANT ACTIVITY & LESSON IDEAS

Ant hill showing activity and stages of development; a, egg; b, young grub; c, pupa; d, worker; e, queen with wings; f, worker
carrying young grub; all enlarged. The ant hill and workers at work much reduced.
Some ants may be of considerable value to man while others are the source of great annoyance and
injury. The tidy housewife usually places the ant in the same category with
cockroaches and bed-bugs
and the corn growers attribute much of the injury to young corn to the work of the small cornfield ant
which acts as a shepherd of the corn root-
louse. Ants are usually more destructive by protecting and
caring for other pests than by attacking the crop direct.

Every country child is familiar with ants. They are met every day during the summer, scampering
across paths, tugging at some unfortunate
insect, or sticking to one's tongue when he eats berries.
Ants are as numerous as the stars in the skies and vary in size. They are found from the tropics to the
frozen north, in deserts, swamps and in fact, almost any place where plants or animals live. They do
not waste time building or manufacturing a complicated
nest like wasps and bees, so when food is
scarce, or for other reasons they need to move they simply "pack up" and migrate. This, together with
the fact that they feed on almost every imaginable kind of plant and animal material, accounts in part
for the fact that they are the rulers of the
insect world.

STUDIES AND OBSERVATIONS
It is easy to study the out-door life of ants, but it is most difficult to follow their activities in the nest. Go
into the field or out on the school grounds and watch along paths or bare spots for ants. Soon red or
black fellows will be seen hurrying along after food; ants are always in a hurry when they are after
food. Follow them and watch them catch and carry home small insects. If they do not find
worms or
other small insects, drop a small
caterpillar near one of them and see what happens.

Record Your Answers to the Following Questions
  • Can they drag away a caterpillar as large as themselves?
  • Some of them may be after honey dew, fruit juice or other material of this nature and they
    should be observed collecting it.
  • Ants collect around plants or shrubs which are overrun with green lice, and feed on a sweet
    liquid which the lice produce. Watch them collect the honey dew from the lice.
  • Do they injure the lice?
  • Can you see the two short tubes on the back of the louse?
  • Locate an ant nest or hill. Observe the workers carrying out small pellets of earth or gravels.
  • Is the earth they bring out the same colour as the surface soil?
  • How deep may they go to get it?
  • Do they move about as if they were in a hurry?
  • Who sends them out with the earth?
  • Why do they bring it out?
  • Is it dropped as soon as the ant comes out of the hole or is it carried some distance?
  • The small ant found along paths usually makes a small ridge all the way around the entrance.
    While some of the ants are making the nest, others are collecting food. Watch for some of
    these and see what they bring.
  • Do they stop to eat before going down into the nest?
  • Dig into a large ant hill and see what can be found. Describe briefly what is found.
  • Do you find any small soft grubs and oval cocoons? These are the young ants and they
    are perfectly helpless and must be fed, bathed and cared for by the workers or nurses.
    The workers pick these up between their pincers and carry them away when the nest is
    disturbed.
  • Do the workers fight to protect the nest? Collect some of the workers which are carrying
    away the young and keep them in a jar with bits of bark and see what they do with the
    young.
  • Describe briefly what you are able to find out about ant life and behaviour.
  • Make drawings of an ant, the young and a nest.

Ant Themed Printables
Ant Coloring
Ant Definition & Vocabulary Activity
Word Unscramble
Ant Nature Journal Page
Nature Journal Drawing Page
Question & Answer Match Activity
Ant Wordsearch
Ant Crossword - Interactive Web
Ant Vocabulary Crossword Printer-friendly   Answer Key
Ant Crossword PDF      Answer Key PDF
Insect Directory
Insect Glossary
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