Ants are one of nature’s most fascinating creatures. They work tirelessly to create habitats, find and store food, and care for their young, all while protecting the queen. Watching an ant colony work can be like watching the hustle and bustle of a large city or a factory, which is not only interesting; it’s educational too.
Ant farms have been around for a long time, and they have never really lost popularity. Although kids have abundant technology available to them, sometimes the simple things are the best experiences. Ant farms are wonderful educational tools for both schools and homes.
While traditional ant farms come with sand and require some interaction and care of the ants within, newer technology has brought with it simpler ant farming techniques that involve nutritional gels that can feed the ants for you while they create their habitats and go about their daily duties.
We wanted to know what the best ant farms were on the market today, so we did a little bit of research to find out what was out there, and what options were the best for a variety of people. We ended up finding nine fantastic farms that are sure to make your future scientist happy.
So we all know there is an educational value to ant farms that you can’t find just anywhere, but how do you know you’re choosing the right farm for your child or family? There are a few different varieties of farms available on the market today, so we went out looking for things you should consider before you invest in an ant farm for your home or classroom.
Like we discussed briefly earlier, old school ant farms used sand or dirt as an ant habitat to mimic their traditional homes, but those farms required the owners to feed the ants and ensure they had access to water and light. Many modern farms come with a nutritional gel as the base habitat. Nutritional gel doubles as a food and drink for the ants so you won’t have extra work to do.
If you are trying to instill a sense of responsibility in your children, the best ant farm may be made of sand. A sand farm is still pretty simple, and all of the farms we’ve found come with instruction manuals to make feeding simple. If, however, you’re looking for education without the need for interaction, a blue gel farm is probably a good choice.
We do have one farm on our list below that uses nutritional blue gel while also encouraging interaction with the ants, so you can find something that will work for you even if you aren’t sure which way to go right away.
You’ll notice, as you read our reviews below that there are some ant farms that come with their ants and others that do not. You’ll get to choose which one you prefer, but make sure you take some things into consideration before you decide. First, is this going to be a birthday or Christmas gift? If so, you may want to go with an ant-less farm to start out.
If you choose a farm that comes with the ants, you may end up having to take care of those ants in the time between their arrival and the holiday where the gift will come out. That can be a pain for you, but it can also be a bummer for your child if they wanted the opportunity to put the ants in their habitat and watch the beginnings of the colony’s development.
If you are buying a farm for yourself or for a child who knows they’re getting it, you can easily go with an option that includes the ants. This makes life simpler since you won’t have to send out for ants once your farm arrives or do any research on how to extract ants from their natural habitat near your home.
Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind when purchasing an ant farm is how many extras you think you’ll need. Most farms come standard with a magnifying glass or magnifying viewer, but some come with other fun aspects to enhance your child’s learning and bring some excitement to the table.
If you live in an area where darkness is a big part of the wintertime or if you want your kids to be able to view their ants at all times of day, you may want to consider a set with built-in LED lights. These are most common in the farms that utilize nutritional gel, which is something to keep in mind when making your decision.
Although most ant farms come with some level of instruction and some ant facts, there are other farms that are built for education. Those habitats often come with e-books, online resources, experiment ideas, logbooks, and specimen identification charts. If education is your goal with your farm, you’ll want to look for something that has some extras.
When we were doing our research for the best ant farm out there, we took a few things into consideration. First, we looked for farms that would meet a variety of needs. We wanted to ensure that no matter what farm you felt was right for you, we had an example of it on our list. We also wanted to ensure education was at the forefront for each farm we featured.
We chose not to rank or rate these farms because we think they all have value; some are just better for specific purposes. Rather than a rating, we chose to explain who we thought would benefit most from each farm. You will notice ratings like “best educational farm” and “best on a budget” versus numerical ratings for this reason.
Finally, we wanted to ensure that the products we chose to feature were of high quality. Many of our products come with warranties or satisfaction guarantees to ensure that you will have peace of mind with your new habitat as you and your children learn, and your colony grows.
Now that you know how to pick the best ant farm for you and your family and a little bit about how we chose our products, let’s take a look at our top nine picks. We know that not every ant farm on our list will be right for you, but we’re sure there is at least one ant farm on our list for every person or family’s needs. All of these unique ant farms have 5 out 5 stars.
Best Budget Ant Farm
If you’re looking for a starter ant farm that will keep ants in and kids out, this is a great option. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that some of the other ant farms on our list brag about, but it’s simple, break-proof and escape-proof design make it a fantastic option for your budding entomologist. It also comes with a small price tag so that you won’t break your budget.
You can use this as a starter if your child wants to expand their ant habitat activities because there are four ports for attaching additional habitats when you’re ready to expand. The sand in this habitat give the ants a homey feel, and the set even comes with an ant watcher’s manual to help your child learn as his colony grows.
Best Compact Farm
This ant castle is small enough to fit in an adult’s hand, but with plenty of cool features kids will love. The blue gel where the ants live is full of nutrition, and the kit comes with tongs and a plastic pipette for easy feeding throughout the life of the farm. It’s interactive and fun for all ages. This is another farm that your kids can expand if they’d like to keep growing their colony.
This farm doesn’t come with live ants like some others on our list, so you’ll either have to research how to start your own colony using local ants or buy from a trusted supplier. We love that this set comes with a lifetime warranty and satisfaction guarantee and that the fun colors and the ability to interact will give your child more to do than just observe.
Best Observation Farm
A great connector for our last ant farm, the NAVAdeal Ant Farm Artists set is built for kids who are curious about more than just the basics of ant home creation. This set is larger than the other NAVAdeal farm on our list and comes with a magnifying glass that is perfect for observing ant interactions and day-to-day tasks.
This farm has the same nutritional blue gel that we spoke of before, so you won’t need to feed your colony. Once again, this product doesn’t come with live ants, so it may take some extra work or money to get your colony started, but it will be worth it in the end. Although this set is pretty, it is less interactive than other sets, and it isn’t break-proof.
Best for 24/7 Viewing
We love the fun, fishbowl shape of the GeoSafari Day ‘N’ Night ant farm. It uses built-in LED lights and magnifiers to help your kids see their ants living life any time of day. You will need to mail in a certificate for the ants separate from the farm, but that means that this farm could be a Christmas gift without you having to take care of the ants for awhile ahead of time.
The farm needs three AA batteries in order to operate the LED lights, but those batteries will last a long time. Another farm full of nutrient-rich blue gel, there is no feeding or watering required for this farm, so your child can watch without having to interact with their colony. It even comes with an activity guide for extra education as your children watch and learn.
Best for Tech Savvy
Not only will your future entomologist get to see the ants up close and learn their habits day and night with this farm, but they will also get additional educational resources from a free e-book all about ants! The kit comes with a magnifying glass, access to the free e-book, and the nutritional blue gel that is so popular in modern ant farms.
This kit is highly rated, and the cool LED lights that shine under the farm could be why. It does not come with live harvester ants, but the kit does contain a discount card to purchase your ants from a reputable dealer. This farm also comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you don’t love it, you can send it back for 100% of your money back without any worries.
Best Simple Ant Farm
If you don’t need all of the bells and whistles of some of the other farms on our list, but don’t think you can go quite as basic as a sand farm, this is probably a good option for you. This ant habitat comes with the nutritional blue gel that keeps ants healthy and happy and 25 live ants, so you won’t have to add extra steps to the process to get started with your new farm.
We like the simple look of this set and the fact that it comes with live ants. We don’t love the restrictive shipping rules, though, since they take away the ability to order this farm as a Christmas gift in more than half of the country. This farm comes with a tunnel starter/ant catcher tool and an ant facts/ instruction booklet to get you started.
Best for Education
If education is your goal with your new ant farm, then we highly recommend the GeoSafari Ant Factory. It comes with traditional sand, rather than the nutritional blue gel that most of our list chooses, which means you’ll get the chance to interact with the ants by feeding them and giving them water. It also comes with an excavation tool and how-to guide booklet.
For the best possible education, your kit will come with a specimen identification chart and display tray, and experiments to help you identify the specimen on your own. You can even test for a variety of classifications and record all of your findings in your logbook. This farm is recommended for children eight and up and is a great homeschooling resource.
These ant farms all have their benefits, so we hope that you were able to find one on our list that you are interested in for your child. We love all of the special features and educational extras we found while searching for these products, and we hope you will too.
Ant farms are still one of the most interesting ways for kids to get hands-on with science and learn about one of nature’s most fascinating creatures from the comfort of their bedrooms. From the simplest options to the habitats with all of the bells and whistles, these farms are sure to have something for everyone.