There seems to be no end in what you can buy through the mail. Ants, butterflies, frogs and ladybirds can be delivered to your door in secure packages. Ready to be dropped into your readymade bug habitat brought from your local toyshop or possible also delivered by the mailman.
As cities get bigger and nature gets further away we are bringing it back to live in our living rooms. Also it might be something to do with us, the parents, trying to recapture our childhood, reliving our experience with our ant farms that we had 20 to 30 years ago.
The ant farms nowadays are amazing contraptions, nothing like the glass cases with a book on top to keep the ants in. But they still do the same thing. That is to provide a living experience for our kids. Everything comes in the mail, ants delivered separately.
The main drawback from buying an ant farm is the time it takes to get your ants. After buying the farm and setting it up you send your certificate back to the company and then your ants are delivered. You cannot buy the whole thing ready to go sort of thing. It is a two-stage process. And this waiting game kind of takes the excitement out of the project.
As ants are temperature sensitive the companies usually only post the ants when the weather is favorable. That means if it gets too cold you end up with a packet of dead ants
Also there is no queen ant with the colony so the ants are short lived. They canít reproduce so they die off as there are no baby ants to take over.
We will look at four different ant farms that you can receive through the mail.
The first is Uncle Miltonís Ant Farm Village. This is three separate ant farms hence the name village. They are all joined together with Antway Connector Tubes and the ants climb up Ant Stairs to get from one farm to another. But they are all quite small and one is circular so if the ants are hiding in the middle you canít see them. The idea behind the three habitats is to start with one and join the others as the colony gets bigger but there is only one problem with this and that is, no queen ant.
Like the other farms they all have plastic models of the standard farm on top so anybody looking at it will work out it is a farm. The main problems with this model seems to be the construction with some people having trouble putting it together and others saying there were too many holes in the containers so the little ants could break free and make a run for the garden.
The next on the list is the Giant Ant Farm from Toys ĎRí Us. This is a bigger separate unit with just one container a bit over 1 inch think, so it is easy to see the ants. It is ideal for group viewing as it is nearly a foot high and one and a half feet wide. Plenty of room for the ants to do their thing.
The main problem seems to be, the base is not wide enough and it wobbles and sometimes falls over. When that happens the ants usually die because the tunnels collapse. The idea is to make sure the tunnels do not collapse.
The ants in this model are Carpenter Ants and they can give you a really good bite, so keep your fingers out of the cage. Also the color scheme is pretty bland. Mine was just straight green and no other color. Green box, green base and green silhouette farm scene on the top. At least Uncle Milton has some color in his farms.
The next one is another Uncle Milton, the Habitat-Sports Park and this is a bit better than the Ant Farm Village. It has got good viewing spheres with a couple of magnifying glasses as windows as you can get a close up view of the ants.
The construction is pretty sturdy and it is supposed to be escape proof, but some people had their ants escape. I think it is all in the way it is put together, so read the instructions carefully. Some others had their ant farm invaded by other smaller ants. The big red ants are no match for the little black ants.
This ant farm looks like a take off from one of those mouse exercise cages with climbing walls, vertical ramps and gravity hoops.
The last one we will look at is the Ant Hill from Insect lore. This is a very basic ant farm shaped like a cone so you have a three-dimensional viewing area the same as the Habitat-Sports Park. Here most of the activity goes on inside the sand dome so you only see the ants running around the outside of the hill. It has a very wide base so it is pretty stable. If you are a bit worried about having stinging ants running around the place this is probably the safest as it has a locking lid.
My suggestion is if you are really into ants, buy one of the habitats then go and find your own ants. Find a good ant nest and grab the queen ant and a bunch of others then your ant farm should last a long time. Why wait for the ant to arrive in the mail. Also there is some debate about what species of ant you end up with if you order through the post. Just remember most ants bite so be careful.
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Toyman, Peter Puzzler, I love toys and puzzles and animals and dinosaurs and bugs. I have kids of my own so I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in toys
This article is copyright © Peter Legrove 2006 at www.animalsdinosaursandbugs.com
Our website specializes in toys, puzzles and games that have an animal, dinosaur or insect theme.
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