The Ant 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. 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 about 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 color 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 pinchers 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 behavior; also make drawings of an ant, the young and a nest.
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