Thursday, April 23, 2009

2) Observe Ant Behavior

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15mm vials. paper and tape to make covers for the vials, small piece of sponge, honey, egg, peanut butter... water dropper, more elaborate ant colony housing from texts

keeping your ants happy can become quite a bit of animal husbandry, but fairly simple procedures will yield good results. ants are pretty hardy. mostly make sure they don't DRY OUT, at the same time make sure they don't get moist so that mold grows. give 'em air once in a while. feed them a tiny bit every few days. cover them to keep 'em dark at night. don't let them get too cold. don't let them overheat in the sun or anything.

you can take the paper wrappers off their vials and watch them for a while with a hand lens and take notes. watching during feeding is interesting. see how they react to different foods. you can even feed them live fruit flies, maybe disable them by cooling them off and clipping their wings.

you should be able to observe activities like these:
dig, take care of larvae, take care of queen, move things around find water, sugar, attack fruit flies, lay trails, greet each other, feed each other, eat stuff, bring stuff to larvae, settle down at night, clean each other, clean antennas...

observing a few days a week for two or three weeks should give you plenty of opportunities to see stuff. try to list the activities. try to break 'em up into discrete actions of parts of ants as if you were going to build a robot ant and you need to program in each action. can you find maybe 40 activities? 100s of actions?

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