wildscience :: Home :: Products :: AGE :: 6+ :: Antlantis


Antlantis combines the fascination of ants with the fun of growing plants all in one amazing product!

Age Grading: 6+ Years
Product Code: WS/22

Detailed introduction
  • Uses Ant Jungle as the host colony which connects via lava tunnels to gardens, islands and bridges across a lake to a food volcano!
  • Watch ants as they explore tunnels to the Islands to harvest food for the colony, grow vegetation to make Antlantis scene complete. It is part of the WILD! Science ECO System.
  • FAQ
    Q1. Do ants hybernate?

    A1. Ants do hibernate. They slow down and 'go to sleep' at about 5¢XC.
    So if you have your colony outside in a cold place - you might see no action.
    They might be sulking in your large container. They do tend to stay where it smells like home.

    Q2. How to stop ants slipping? Why are ants stuck in food chamber/Maze?


    Most ants don't slip. Many can even walk on polished glass! But some do slip. A non slip surface usually happens naturally after one or two nights. At night when the room cools down, condensation usually forms in the chamber and this is sticky enough for ants to climb on. Then they leave permanent sticky scent and dirt trails on the surface. You can help this along by rubbing a little sugar water around the bit of the chamber walls you can reach. They love it - and it makes their feet sticky. That starts the process. Also if the chamber is cool, breathe hard into it - your breath will condense and coat the walls. BUT PLEASE DONT GET BITTEN BY ANTS! Even better - after breathing blow a little dust into the chamber to add grip to the wet walls.
    In winter in any country, ants are a bit slow and inactive and kind of 'dopey'. And they may not dig with any enthusiasm. If you can a find ants larvae and pupae ( little white grubs or sausages from the same nests outside) put them in the colony too, this will help them get to work digging and making a new home. But you may have to wait for warmer weather for larvae and pupae to happen. Keeping the colony inside in a warm place will help a lot.

    Q3. How can I catch wild ants without getting bitten?

    A3. Check for some techniques in the many Ant Kit Instruction booklets.

    Or you can try putting sugar water on a cotton ball inside the ant catcher jar. Then put the jar outside near a trail from an ants nest.
    If you bury the jar to the rim in soil, it is even easier for ants to get in. Leave it for a day, then just pop the lid on to trap the ants.

    OR you can leave the ball on an ant trail and wait. Use tweezers to pick up the ball covered in ants and drop it into your ant catcher jar.

    Q4. Ants are escaping!

    A4. The holes are 1mm diameter which means ants smaller than 3mm may escape with a real squeeze. But larger ants physically cannot escape through the holes.
    Anyway, here are some hints that may help avoid future escapes:

    1. Clean out the colony and start again making sure two parts of the colony mouldings click together with no gaps. If the kit is moved around, sometimes the gaps can enlarge, then sand can get wedged in between, the gap widens unseen, and ants can escape. So best seal that join or seam with sticky tape too before putting soil in and before putting the side 'curtains' and base on. We suspect this might be the source of your larger ant leaks.

    2. Now we do know you have some pretty big ants - see if you can find some over 5mm long. 1cm ants are wonderful as they are easy to observe.

    3. When you collect ants, ALSO collect larvae and pupae from the same nest. They look like little white grubs or maggots, or brown seeds. These divert the ants' attention and give the ants a good reason to stay in the nest. The presence of the young ones also causes strong organizational behaviors in the workers, makes the colony very exciting, and when they hatch, you may even get queens and drones!

    As far as Houdini ant escapees go, we suggest making sure that all the seams and friction pegs are free of any sand or rootlets etc. When the colony is assembled clean and new from the packaging, according to the plans, with all friction pegs pushed in firmly, all side curtains clamped on tightly, top and bottom mouldings dirt free and pushed home securely, the soil filling voids covered with stickers provided ... only an ant with a diameter of less than 1mm can escape. Any knocking or rough use of the structure after filling tends to introduce sand into the seams and can allow larger ants to escape. If used vigorously in a classroom, it is possible the seams may separate just a little.

    If you find more ants are escaping, we suggest starting again. This means washing the edge to edge contact areas of the transparent mouldings. Also make sure the sockets for the friction pegs are free from dirt. The two halves should snap together very tightly. Also maybe you could go for bigger ants. More fun-more visible. If not, and if the nest is being moved about a lot ( eg in a classroom) taping the sides is a very good idea.

    Q5. The ants in New Zealand are very small! What can we do?

    A5. If your ants are less than 3mm long, they are probably less than 1mm wide. And our air holes are 1mm wide. So they may escape from there.

    So what to do?
    1. Cut thin strips of tissue paper, wet them, and let them dry over the two lines of holes. Air will still get in and out but not ants. After they have settled in 3 days or so, they generally do not want to escape and the paper can come off. ( Some might pop their heads out for a look around but then go in again. If you are faint hearted , best keep the paper on.)
    2. Better, put sticky tape over the holes! For small ants, enough oxygen diffuses into the colony through the very thin plaster walls. In fact you can blow air through the back into the colony .. try it!
    3. Better still - collect ant larvae and pupae at the same time. Ants love to look after them and usually they don't even think about escaping.
    4. Best of all - try and find bigger ants. It seems NZ has 11 species of native ants and 28 introduced ones. As it gets warmer towards christmas you'll have more ant size choices.

    Q6. Worker ants laying eggs?

    A6. Some worker ants under certain conditions which are hard to predict will lay eggs when away from the effects of a queen. But these eggs are most often sterile. They are often fed to growing larvae as 'trophic eggs', or food eggs. Some enthusiasts claim these eggs have hatched into larvae and grown into new drones and queens etc. We are yet to prove it. Maybe you can?
    BUT we know a sure way to keep the colony growing. Scoop up larvae and pupae ( they look like maggots or tiny sausages) with the dirt and the ants you put into your colony. These usually turn into workers BUT we have had queens and drones hatch successfully and keep the colony going for 18 months so far! An ant lives about 3 months max.

    Q7. What do ants eat?

    A7. Here is a strategy. It takes patience, but that is what real science is about:
    1. Find a variety of foods, both vegetarian and meat based chopped very finely. Just a small spoonful of each. Crushed cat or dog biscuits are a mixture of both and most ants like them. And some old lids from jars.
    2. Find some ants in a park or a garden. Get really really close... and observe very carefully......
    3. Leave the foods in little piles in jar lids near the ants. See which foods they will go to and take away. Also see what they are eating 'in the wild'.
    4. Try and track down where the ants are coming from. When you find the nest, carefully collect about 20 worker ants AND some of the dirt from the nest.
    5. Also try to collect a few 'ants eggs'. They are not actually eggs, but larvae and pupae that the ants carry around in their jaws.
    6. Put the ants larvae pupae and dirt into your colony. The chemicals (pheromones) in the dirt and produced by the 'babies' help normalize ant behavior and should help feeding.
    7. Now you also know which foods they prefer.
    8. This time you should have a thriving and exciting colony of happy ants.

    Q8. Ant hunger strikes, our ants refused to eat.

    A8. This is very unusual and we are not entirely sure why it happened in your case. But it seems it can happen if certain worker ants from certain species are separated from their larvae and pupae. They are kind of 'left with no purpose in life.'

    Here is a strategy. It takes patience, but that is what real science is about:

    1. Find a variety of foods, both vegetarian and meat based chopped very finely. Just a small spoonful of each. Crushed cat or dog biscuits are a mixture of both and most ants like them. And some old lids from jars.

    2. Find some ants in a park or a garden. Get really really close... and observe very carefully

    3. Leave the foods in little piles in jar lids near the ants. See which foods they will go to and take away. Also see what they are eating 'in the wild'.

    4. Try and track down where the ants are coming from. When you find the nest, carefully collect about 20 worker ants AND some of the dirt from the nest.

    5. Also try to collect a few 'ants eggs'. They are not actually eggs, but larvae and pupae that the ants carry around in their jaws. 6. Put the ants larvae pupae and dirt into your colony. The chemicals (pheromones) in the dirt and produced by the 'babies' help normalize ant behavior and should help feeding. 7. Now you also know which foods they prefer.

    8. Make sure your colony is not in bright sunshine, or they cook. Make sure it does not get too dry in hot weather. If they ALL gather around the water well, squirt 3 or 4 pipette fulls of water on the back of the plaster.

    9. This time you should have a thriving and exciting colony of happy ants.

    Q9. Do I need a queen? How to last an ant colony?


    To get a colony to last forever you do not need to catch a queen, but you do need to hatch one! .
    Ordinary ants you see around under stones etc are workers. They live about 90 days. They are all sterile females unable to breed. So when you catch a bunch of them, you will expect a few to die off everyday depending on how old they were when you caught them. After about 3 months, in most species, yes ... they will all be dead. .
    When you buy ants over the internet, they will be workers, and will not live more than about 3 months, depending on species.
    But we have a trick! In our instructions we suggest you collect your own ants from under rocks and logs. You will also see little white or yellow grubs or maggots being carried around by the workers. These are baby ants ( ant larvae). We suggest you scoop up some of those too with a big spoon, along with some ants nest soil 'to make them feel at home'. If the workers are also carrying little brown sausages too, that is excellent. Scoop up some too. They are ant pupae which will soon hatch into new ants. .
    Plus looking after baby ants is what worker ants are programmed to do! They love it - and you'll see them working away in your colony just as they would outside. .
    DO NOT TRY AND CATCH A QUEEN! This destroys the nest and you do not need a queen. Why? When the larvae are away from the 'chemical influence' of the original queen, they can develop into new males and new queens! So you can hatch your own queens! .

    Q10. Do ants die when there is no queen?

    A10. We discourage children from taking queens from ants nests. This is an unnecessary disruption to the nest and a risk to the kids ( ant bites etc.) In fact, worker ants ( the ones you find running about the garden) will very happily live without a queen for a very very long time in a well set up colony , especially containing soil from their own home nest environment. If the kids also stock the colony with eggs and larvae, this appears to set the ants into full on organizational mode , even without the queen. Even better: in some species one of the workers may become fertile and start laying eggs , just like the old queen! The workers are all females ( such is life) but held in a state of infertility by pheromones from the queen. When she is not in the nest - changes can happen. Sadly the worker eggs will not be fertile themselves as usually there is no male in the nest to be a 'dad'. So infertile eggs may be fed to older larvae as food!
    So see if you can get 50 to 100 ants all from the same nest. Bigger the ant, the better. Set Antlantis up as described in the booklet. Keep the colony moist in hot weather , be patient ( hard for 5 year olds) and sharp eyed. Magic might happen, and maybe you will make ground breaking ant discoveries absolutely new to science.

    Q11. Ant tube stuck on side plug, how do I release it?

    A11. This can happen after a long time, especially at low temperatures.

    You were correct in trying warm water. If possible soak the join in warm water/ even hand hot water. But not boiling.

    Failing that, use sharp craft knife make a small cut into the rim of the tube to release some of the tension in the tube. Not all way to reveal the end of the side plug, just about half way. This and heat will release most reluctant tubes.

    When replacing the tube, try lubricating the side plug with a little washing up liquid.

    Q12. My ants won't go out of the ant catcher and into the tubes!

    A12. Here are a few hints.

    1. Put the catcher part in bright light and the rest of the colony in shade.

    2. If that doesn't work - put a food tube with sugar water in it onto another port to see if that entices them out.

    3. Wait until they get bored and move house. But we have some that have moved into the catcher for months! Actually, we don't mind, and nor do they.

    Q13. Ants can not climb in tubing!

    A13. Normally after one or two day and night natural heating and cooling cycles, condensation forms in the tubes and ants can climb on that. They lay sticky scent trails on top of the water droplets and also carry dust onto the trail ... and soon it is a freeway.
    If the weather is very dry, or if condensation does not happen after a day or so: carefully disconnect the upper end of a red tube. Be careful to block the open pod port with a cotton wool plug to stop ants escaping. Trickle sugar water down the tube using your pipette to make a sticky path. Then the ants will lay their own sticky scent trail on top of that, plus dust sticks from their feet and in a few days a road is laid down! Do the same with any tube the ants have trouble climbing.

    Q14. Why are my ants are killing each other?

    A14. First. When you collect ants it is very important to only collect ants from one nest. Ants from two nests, even if they are the exact same species, living close to each other tend to act like warring or competing tribes. They are very jealous of their territory! So collect ants from one nest only, just as in the booklet.
    Another possibility - most worker ants only live for about 90 days. They also tend to hatch in batches so they tend to die in batches too. Maybe you collected a bunch of old timers that proceeded to expire in front of you?? In our colonies, the living workers will gently pick up the dead bodies and take them to one dry area of the kit and leave them there. Maybe it looks like a war zone, but it could be a natural cycle you are seeing.
    Another possiblity: some ants do seem to get very stressed by moving home so unceremoniously. In the booklet we suggest collecting ants larvae and pupae too, along with nest soil. Please do not look for the queen. The ants (who will nearly all be workers) are programmed to look after the young ones - so they seem to be very much calmer and happier when fully employed! PLUS - the young ones will hatch and you get another load of ants for free - often including a new queen and males!

    Q15. Are ants toys?

    A15. We explain that when children learn to care for and truly understand small living things like ants and worms, they will also learn to care for and truly understand other human beings. We think you will be very happy when you understand what the product is about.
    In nature worker ants live maximum 90 days. In other brand Ant Toys, they will live max 90 days. In our capsulas we have colonies 232 days old ( and still very happy) without taking the 'queen'. We tell children never collect a queen, only soil and some worker ants plus a few larvae and eggs. This way the world gets 2 colonies from 1 colony. Years or research with children means that we know children can look after ants very well.
    The kit is designed by a zoologist, entomologist and teacher who cares about ants and children.

    Q16. Where can we get ants?

    A16. We suggest in spring or summer, collecting your own local worker ants plus ant larvae and pupae ( often called ants 'eggs') , and ant dirt, from a nest in the park or garden. You don't need a queen. Away from the influence of the queen, some pupae and larvae will naturally turn into new queens and males in your colony, ensuring at least one queen is fertilized. Very Exciting! Then, the colony can go on 'forever'. Get larger ants. Over 3mm long means their heads are usually too wide to get through the holes which are 1mm diameter. This is the best idea.

    If you don't have a chance to find them in the wild....

    As we don't know where do you live, here are some information for specific regions below, hope they do help!

    Ants should be out and about in parks and gardens in the UK during the spring.Just follow the clues in the booklet for catching ants. (But you should be aware that catching certain rare ants is illegal in the UK.)

    OR you can get nice big ants by mail from our distributor in UK

    If you are in USA, or Canada please visit here:
    The ants they supply are usually nice and big.

    There are more on the web.
    You'll need to order them from a supplier inside your own country because quarantine laws usually stop ants being shipped from one country to the next.
    If it is very cold at the moment where you live, maybe wait until the weather warms up to catch your own live ants.Or order them over the internet.
    Most suppliers sell Harvester ants, and these ants are ideal - they are herbivores. So mustard seeds, grass seeds, dried fruit, sugar etc are great foods for them.
    Worker ants alone might live up to 3 months. But with a fertilized queen, your colony can go can 'forever'. We are not sure if the queens some suppliers sell are fertilized, and able to lay eggs that will hatch. You may need to ask them.

    Q17. Ants by mail but with no ant soil. Is this problem?

    A17. We don't think you'll be able to get ant nest soil via the internet or mail. However your worker ants will be happy in ordinary soil as long as it is not too wet and sticky like wet clay and not too dry and 'runny' like dry sand. Garden type soil is fine.

    Q18. Why are young ants ginger? - from Marco! Is it usual for ants to be ginger when they first hatch then turn red then turn black?

    A18. Dr. WILD!:
    About the colour of baby ants. Yes, sometimes they do start out a pale gingery colour. Something very special happens in the skin ( or exoskeleton) of an ant , especially when it is exposed to light. ( Did you know ants and woodlice wear their bones on the outside?) Light speeds up a kind of tanning and 'plastic hardening' process. It is a bit like when you get a new filling at the dentist, it gets hardened with a special ultra violet light, just like strong sunlight. But in the ant, the plasticky exoskeleton goes harder and a darker colour over time anyway, but light speeds up the process. Just like us getting a tan in the sun.

    Q19. What about Woodlice and Ants - from Marco!

    A19. Q: I thought a woodlice home would be interesting because once I was digging up some stones and I saw 20 woodlice with some babies and it moved really fast!It was really interesting and I liked watching it very mutch .All of the woodlice were a silver greyish colour and were living in soil so I think ants and woodlice could share the same home.I put a woodlice in my ant home yesterday and its perfectly fine today.Iwas thinking something like the eco dome but for a woodlice.

    A: Dr. WILD!:We have not thought about suggesting putting woodlice into ant colonies. Thank you so much for the idea. You are right, woodlice and ants do share the same home in nature , so they should live happily in our ant kits. Your observation that your 'test woodlouse' is OK, seems to confirm your idea (or hypothesis).
    Marco, we are sorry to say that for various reasons we will not make a special woodlice home. BUT we would like to tell the world about Marco's idea ( to put woodlice in with your ants or ECO Dome)

    Q20. Sleepy ants, ants are not active!

    A20. 1. If it is winter and very cold the ants will be inactive.
    2. If the colony is in very bright light, the ants will find the shadiest area they can, and stay there. Hang a piece of dark paper over the front and see if they start to move, or put the colony out of bright light.
    3. If they are all gathered around the water tube, and not moving, the colony is too dry. Using your pipette, squirt water onto the back of the plaster moulding. Do this 5 or 6 times if you have had very dry weather. In very hot dry conditions, you'll need to squirt water daily on the back of the colony.
    4. Sometimes, very rarely, worker ants just refuse to perform in an empty nest. They don't like a completely empty nest as there is nothing for them to work at. Collecting ant larvae and pupae ( little maggotty things the ants carry around in their jaws) at the same time as the ants gives them something to do and they will become very active. If you bought or collected the ants with no dirt or nest materials, try adding chopped grass and sand in through the food port. They don't like a messy nest, and they will soon move the offending stuff to different rooms or chambers, often changing rooms every day.
    5. You can wake them up! Carefully pull off one end of the ant tubing and blow through it gently!. Ants are 'stimulated' by the carbon dioxide in your breath. But don't do this too often, and NEVER inhale an ant. Plus the ants don't like it . Their activity is actually trying to get away from the carbon dioxide.
    6. If none of this works, change your ants. Very gently separate the rivets of the kit, take off the cover and release your sleepy ants in a garden. Collect some more lively ones next time.

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