Monday, September 16, 2013

What The Ant Farm Makers Don't Want You To Know

Here's the thing about an ant farm. When your 4-year-old son expresses an interest in having one, it seems like a great educational opportunity. It seems like a chance to learn about insects and see them in action while providing hours of entertainment. Plus, as far as caged pets go, it seems easier than fish, less scary than a snake, less gross than a bird, and less emotionally traumatizing when they die than a hamster. So as you're standing there in Hobby Lobby looking at the ant farms, you think there really isn't a downside to this scenario, right?

Well, you would be wrong.

Here is what the box said:

But, let's be honest... while there is some truth in the claim, "FUN for the whole FAMILY!", it's far from comprehensive. In case anyone out there is thinking about buying an ant farm for your 4-year-old son, here is what should have been on the box:

Bring Stinging Ants Into Your Home!

So apparently, the kind of ants that work best in ant farms are called harvester ants. They're big, fat juicy ants that dig really great tunnels in the sand. Oh, and they also sting.

Since the ants don't come in the box with the farm, you submit an order form and then patiently wait for your tube of thirty, giant stinging ants to arrive. Happy mailbox opening.

Teach and Learn New Torture Techniques!

Once you get your mail order ants, there's the challenge of getting them in the ant farm. The slot you're supposed to dump them in is pretty tiny. So here you have a tube of thirty giant stinging ants (who will be hungry from their travels through the mail, the pamphlet informs me), and a clearly insufficient slot to transport them through.

Fortunately, however, the ant farm instructions have this problem covered. Just put your tube of famished, stinging ants into the fridge for ten minutes or so. Chill them to the point that they stop moving but haven't died yet. Then slide the little buggers in. Moral of the story for your 4-year-old: when you're having trouble getting someone to do what you want them to do, just chill them in the fridge until they relent. Problem solved.

Watch Them Bury Their Dead!

Ants apparently bury their dead. Which is just awesome when you have an ant farm because not only do you get to see a cross-section of an ant habitat... you also get a cross-section of an ant graveyard. A two-for-one!

Here's the thing about the dead ants, though. To us non-ants, it's pretty much impossible to tell the difference between a dead ant and a sleeping ant. When they sleep, they curl up in a ball and lie very still somewhere along one of the tunnels--sometimes on their backs with their legs up in the air. So, sometimes you think half your ants are dead, only to find out later that they were just sleeping. Which turns out to be pretty disappointing.

Dream About Eating Them!

After you've made it through the ominous mailbox-checking stage, the refrigerator torture techniques, and the undead ants phenomena, the creepy factor really starts to set in. You've been living with these ants for a while now and had a number of strange experiences with them. That's when you start having dreams about them. Dreams like... baking the ants into cookies, for example. Because when you've got a clear container full of sand, a bunch of ants inside (many of which are not moving) it can look a bit like, well, a twisted version of chocolate chip cookie dough. Just try enjoying a chocolate chip cookie after that.

Frighten Small Children!

If you have an intelligent, logical 4-year-old, he has realized at some point during this process that you, in fact, are crazy. He is smarter than you because he decides he does not want to bring the stinging ants into his room. He's not even sure he's comfortable having them in the house at all. Would the garage not be a better place for them?

And you're thinking, there is no good place for them. The house is not a good place, but then neither is the yard where they might crawl around and feast on bare feet. You briefly consider the toilet as a viable option, but what if they can swim back up stream? So you're stuck with a wait-out-the-clock situation.

Now don't get me wrong, the tunnels are admittedly cool, the ants' work ethic is impressive, and watching the ants is mildly entertaining. But, when you're imagining ants escaping and hiding under furniture and dreaming about baking them into cookies, the 90-day lifespan seems too long. To be precise, it seems about... oh... 85 days too long. And that's what the ant farm people really don't want you to know.


  1. Thanks for the chuckles, I will have to come back for more :)
    (found you on bloggy moms)

  2. I also have boys and this made me giggle. I havent been through it yet, but Im sure I will! I found you through bloggy moms as well. Glad I did!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...