II.C.1 Part Two-Ant Hill Identification

In this project, students will try to identify an ant species by observing only the burrow entrance. Students must describe both the anthill and the ant that lives in it.

Materials needed:
Each team of 2 students will need:

Teacher will need:

  • Stakes and flagging
  • Various kinds of bait (small seeds, tuna fish, honey or jelly, bread crumbs) to distribute to teams.
  • Small paper cups and popsicle sticks (for distributing bait)
  • Small bag (for collecting empty bait cups and popsicle sticks)
Instructions for the Teacher:
  1. You will need a warm, dry day-70 degrees or warmer-and approximately 20-30 minutes to complete this activity. (Ants are not active in cold or wet weather.)

  2. Before going outdoors with the class, locate a study area where ants are abundant and there seems to be several different kinds of ants. The edge of a sandy trail is often a good place for ants.

  3. Using strings, stakes and flags, mark off two long, narrow areas (one for Part Two and one for Part Three) so students can look at the anthills without stepping over the string and disturbing the anthills. Each section should be long enough for all the students to stand along the edge. Each section should also have a number of different anthills.

  4. On the day of the activity, divide students into teams of two. Distribute and review Student Data sheets #1 and #2.

  5. Once you are outside, have students line up outside the first roped-off area. Locate the anthills and demonstrate how to put down ant bait. Using pieces of bait no larger than a pea, carefully place three different kinds of bait approximately 3-4 cm away from the burrow entrances. This should increase the activity of the ants so that the students can get a good look at them.

  6. Distribute the three different kinds of bait to your teams. Each team should watch one or more active ant mounds (with ants going in and out) and complete the questions on the Student Data Sheet #1. As students fill out the data sheet, it is important to move among them and get an idea of how they are naming their ants. Some consistency is important because the class data sheet that you will complete in Part Four will need pooled data. (Unfortunately, it may not be possible to provide the official names for the ants your students observe, mainly because a guide to Florida ants does not currently exist. However, this makes a good point--much remains to be done even in the most basic areas of insect study.)

  7. Leave up the second marked-off section to use during Part Three.
IIC1-Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4
Student data sheet #1    Student data sheet #2    Class data sheet
Unit II. SAND-DWELLING ANIMALS
A. Ant Lions:    II.A.1
B. Scrub Burrowing Wolf Spiders:    II.B.1
C. Ants:     II.C.1   
D. Glossary    E. Questions for Student Evaluation