eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
So the Ant Project: Redemption was a total bust. The ants are stupid and it took them over a week to even start tunneling. And when they did, it was just ONE measly tunnel. That's IT. Last week, Dustin turned them upside down and tried to help them dig more tunnels but the stupid ants are just stupid and they aren't doing much, other than just being stupid.

I'm giving up on this round of ants, but I plan on getting more at some point and just having a giant Do-Over. Sorry for the let-down.

But in order to sort of make it up, I took pictures of Echo today with my awesome new camera. It takes some kickass closeups! Here's a refresher on who Echo is. He's my bat.

Behold, pictures of Echo! )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
The Ant Project: Redemption

Coming in 2-3 business days.
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
Well, it's been 149 days since I started my ant project. It's been a long road, with many exciting days as my ant colony grew, and many sad days when I had to say goodbye to old friends. You can read the entire ant journey here, starting at the bottom up.

I nearly gave up on my little friends about a month and a half ago. I brought the ant farm home from work and I just stared at it, dismayed. When Dustin and I went to Florida for a week and a half for his sister's wedding, I was sure that I would come home to find the two remaining ants dead. By early September, one had perished, leaving me with one last ant.

And then there was one.

It's September 26th, day 149 into The Ant Project, and while this one ant is slow, she is still determined to live. She's an elderly ant now. I'd let her go so she can experience freedom of the wilderness, but that would surely kill her old body. She remains in my ant colony, walking carefully over big boulders of gel and gently tugging away at life. She's a good ant, one whom I never expected to live this long, and as I stop by to watch her every day, I can't help but look at her with atonishment. They were only supposed to live 2-3 months, and this ant has far exceeded her life span. She's a trooper, little U. I am so proud of her.

Pictures below the cut )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
Oh, how the ant habitat has changed since my last post over a month ago. The ant habitat went from being an interesting conversation piece at work with my coworkers asking "Did they make any new tunnels today?" to a graveyard where my coworkers ask "So how many are still alive today?"

Yes, it's true. The ants are dying off in large numbers now. Since these ants only live 2-3 months and we're sixty-seven days into The Ant Project, a massacre was inevitable. I had to do major damage control in the Ant Farm today, taking my tweezers and delicately pulling out ant carcasses left and right.

Pictures this way )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
So it's been over a week since I did my last Ant Project update. Due to Semagic/Scrapbook photo uploading issues, the LJ drama, DDOS attacks and the fact that my ants are just plain boring now, I decided to take a week off. But now I'm going to update y'all on what happened this past week!

Day Twenty-Three, Friday, May 25:
If you recall, on Thursday my coworker Mike and I decided to flip the ant habitat upside down to see if they would continue to gather in that same little area regardless of whether it was on the bottom or the top of the ant habitat. The gel smushed down and the ants continued to gather in the same area. Mike and I decided to turn the ant farm right-side up again and see if they would move, but no, they decided to stay in that same spot. They moved briefly that afternoon after I got home, so I snapped two pictures of them as they explored the other parts of their habitat:
Pictures under the cut )

As you can see, there's been minimal change to the ant habitat- they haven't done anymore extensive digging or made any huge improvements to their living environment. Daily updates have become a chore instead of exciting. I forgot my ants when I left work on Friday and actually had to go back to work (luckily I hadn't even left the parking lot yet) to get them to bring them home this weekend. In short: they're getting really boring. I'm seriously tempted to add a couple of outsider ants into the habitat in order to liven things up a bit. Think it'll work?
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
Today, we tried a little experiment with the ants.

We turned their world upside-down.

Click for pictures! )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
The ants had a visitor today! [livejournal.com profile] watchmebe came to my office to oogle over the ants! And she also had an interview for a position in my department. But really, we all know what's more important- the ants! :-)

Today's pictures )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
Day Twenty was uneventful. Until...someone decided to reappear from the depths of the gel beads!

Guess who's back?! )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
I've been bad. I accidentally forgot to take pictures of the ants yesterday. :-( And to make matters worse, I forgot to take them to work today! My coworkers were asking about them and wondering why I had abandoned my children. I swear, I didn't mean to! My mind has just been on other things lately! I'm such a horrible mother. I just hope one day the ants can forgive me for temporarily forgetting about them. *sniff*

I have Day Seventeen's (Saturday) and Day Nineteen's (today) pictures under the cut.

Here )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
Our internets was down last night so I didn't get to post an ant update.

Day Fourteen )

Day Fifteen )

Day Sixteen )

They still love to gather at the bottom. It's like their mecca or something. It's so cool to watch them gather down there because it'll sometimes be so crowded that some of them have to hang upside-down!

And now for something completely different )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
On Day Twelve, the ants dug a new tunnel!
And on Day Thirteen, the ants just gathered in their community center at the bottom of the habitat!

Pictures under the cut )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
Day Eleven's progress
Under the cut )

Now to answer some of your most burning questions! Or at least, questions you asked after I kept begging you to give me some. *grin*

Question: How do you tell them all apart?
Answer: Before I put them into their ant habitat I tattooed them with a tiny, tiny ink gun. Each ant has a little letter written on its thorax. Except for AA. She has two letters.

Question: What is their lifespan?
Answer: Two or three months. Although it seems that some are giving into the process of natural selection at a higher rate than others. P's lifespan was less than two days from the time she was in the ant farm to the time she left this world. H lasted a mere six days, God bless her soul. She was a fighter, though, through and through.

Question: What do they eat? Do they eat the gel? How can that stuff keep 'em alive?
Answer: They eat the gel. Unlike humans, they eat, live, and poo in the same exact substance. According to the website, it is a "clear, non-toxic gel specially formulated for the nutritional needs of ants." I'm glad they specified it was non-toxic because my co-worker tasted a little bit of it the other day!

Question: Do they need water?
Answer: Nope! The gel is all they need to eat to survive. It has enough moisture in it to keep them hydrated.

Question: So, the mess at the top of the enclosure is gel from the paths they've been digging?
Answer: Yep, it is! When the ants tunnel through the gel, they take a giant bite of it in their mandibles and carry the clump of gel up to the top. Or they'll hand it off to another ant who will carry it to the top. Most recently, they've started tunneling in the gel at the top, too, although it's harder to capture in a photograph. I tried, and here's the result:
Under the cut )

Question: What are they DOING? What is the purpose of all this digging? How do they know what the best plan of digging/tunneling will be? Is there an ant overseer? Do they have instinctual architecture skills?
Answer: They're digging tunnels, duh. The ant overseer, as deemed by my coworkers and I based upon the first letter that appeared in tunnel formation, is "U." I believe their mad tunneling skillz are instinctual; they know which way to tunnel and how to get to where they need to go. They certainly are excited when they connect two tunnels- they all crawl into the second tunnel and I swear I've seen them give each other high fives before...

Question: Is there a social structure outside of queen/workers?
Answer: Yes. Ants are divided into "sub-fertile, and more commonly sterile, females ("workers"), fertile males ("drones"), and fertile females (queens)." I currently have sterile, female workers in my colony. I'm in the market for some drones and a queen, though, in order to pimp this ant farm out.
An odd fact: When I searched for "Western Harvester ant," the species of my ants, on Wikipedia, no entries were returned. However, a "relevant" entry that Wiki linked me to was "List of animals displaying homosexual behavior". And suddenly it dawned on me: I've raised lesbian ants!

Question: Can we place bets on which ant survives the longest? How about voting as to which ant gets removed from the habitat?
Answer: Contracts are in the works. I'm having a hard time getting a few of them to sign to it, but hopefully the grand prize of being set free will be enough to persuade them to join the game.

Question: Do ants eat each other?
Answer: I wish! That would be so wickedly awesome! Unfortunately, they haven't shown any signs of eating each other. Yet. Perhaps when/if I introduce a couple of "foreigners" into the colony, they'll start to fight. I have to check with my county ordinance first, though, to make sure ant fighting isn't illegal like cock fighting.

Question: Are you turning into the crazy ant lady?
Answer: Yes.
Click here to see proof )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
They've been chugging away these past two days. Just like any new mother, I can't stop staring at my babies! ha. I'm so proud of every single accomplishment they make- whether it's a small tunnel or a big one that connects two other big ones.

Pictures under the cut )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
This is going to be a quick post because I'm working on a software deadline (our release is tomorrow and I still have one report left to test by midnight! ACK!). But never fear- a fun post is coming soon! Pictures of today's progress )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
It's been a week since I started my ant habitat.

We've come a long way in a mere seven days, although I fear that each day gets harder and harder on the gals. They do less and less work each day.

Pictures here )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
The ant habitat didn't really change much today. However, there was tragedy last night...

Pictures under the cut )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
I forgot to do an ant update yesterday, but never fear, as I took pictures both yesterday and today!

The pictures are below the cut )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
Today is day three of my ant habitat. Days one and two were very impressive, but I have to say, I was shocked at what I saw them do today:

Pictures under the cut )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
It's been exactly 48 hours since I started my ant habitat! Time to see today's progress!

Under the cut )
eohartman: (Ant Habitat)
About two weeks ago, I went over to my parents house and I discovered the most wonderful, fascinating toy ever.

An ant farm.

But not just any boring old ant farm! This ant farm was made out of pretty blue gel enclosed in a plastic container, derived from a 2003 NASA space shuttle experiment to study animal life in space and test how ants successfully tunnel in microgravity. The gel, unlike sand, does not collapse on the ants during lift-off and re-entry of the space shuttle. The gel is also a nutritious supplement that the ants can eat. The enclosed habitat is a perfect ant farm. It's also a fascinating thing to watch.

I HAD to have one. That night, I went home and researched these ant farms. There are so many different kinds! The Antquarium, the regular Ant gel farm, the green gel ant farm, the tunnel vision ant farm where you can connect several of them together!. I finally found the perfect ant habitat for me: The AntWorks2 Illuminated! It feeds the ants! It habitats them! And best of all...it GLOWS! I immediately bought it and started biting my fingernails, waiting for it to arrive.

Now, the ant habitat does not come with ants. You have to buy those separately to ensure that they're fresh and alive. After several frantic e-mails to my mom regarding the shipment time of her ants, I ordered my ants before my ant habitat arrived. It was a bold move, I know. What if the ants arrived before the habitat? Where would I put them? How would they survive? But I was willing to take the chance. Approximately 25 Western Harvester ants were mine for only $4.00.

On Monday, my ant farm arrived. Yesterday, my ants arrived in a small plastic tube in a small brown padded envelope. I was ready to begin.

I dumped the ants into the gel and Dustin and I were immediately captivated. After a few minutes of scoping out their new environment, they started digging with their mandibles. And digging. And digging. It was so entrancing that for two hours last night, Dustin and I laid in bed with the ant habitat in front of us, watching them dig, move beads of gel, pass it on to other ants, and eat. Yes, I know this is a sad way to spend a four-year anniversary and as my co-worker Kristin told me today, "Newlyweds should NOT be doing THAT in bed, Elizabeth!", but we just couldn't help it. *grin*

The ants went to work with me today. They'll generally be a "work toy," like the Jimmy Carter head, but since they're so new and fascinating, I'm bringing them home at night right now. At least until Dustin and I get an ant habitat for the apartment.

As we close in on the first 24-hours of the ants being in the ant habitat, I've taken a few pictures. I'm going to try to take pictures of the ant habitat each day, or at least every other day, and post them to show y'all their progress.

Pictures under the cut! )


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