You may think ants are just a common pest, but that is not the whole story. They are amazing!
Let’s Get Started
Did you know ants were found in fossils and have been around for about 120 million years? There are about 12,000 different species of ants that scientists already know about.
Different kinds of ants build their nests in different places. You’re probably used to seeing ants that burrow underground and make anthills. But some tunnel under tree bark or inside branches, flowers, or seeds such as acorns. Weaver ants line up at the edge of a leaf and use a thread of sticky silk to “sew” the leaf edges in place to make a nest. Look around and see if you can find any ant nests in new places.
Sit out a very small piece of fruit or candy under a tree and wait to see how many ants show up to eat it! Check-in every hour, and count how many ants have shown up.
Look for anthills, but be sure not to disturb them. Do you see ants on a sidewalk moving in a line? Look up under leaves, on tree trunks and between patches of grass.
Ants are social animals and they live in groups called colonies. All the ants in a colony have special jobs to do. The largest one is the queen. Her job is to lay eggs. The smaller ants are workers. See if you can find some ants and identify their role in the colony just by watching them.
While observing ant activities, be quiet and listen for sounds of nature. Do you hear the leaves rustling, birds singing, or other insects buzzing and chirping?
Tips: Be aware – don’t stand on ant nests or areas where they are foraging. Wear boots and/or tuck pant legs into your socks to reduce the risk of bite/sting. Get more safety tips from OSHA.
Document Your Discoveries
- Draw or describe the ants you found in your Nature Notebook.
- Make “ants on a log” and try other recipes with Enjoy a Campfire.
Bonus: Aren’t ants amazing? Learn more amazing ant facts by visiting Ants Rule with Ranger Rick.
Join this year’s Great American Campout—right in your yard or another nearby place!