Why aren't my ants tunneling? Your ants need a few hours to figure out where they are before they start to dig. However, they should be tunneling within the first 24 hours. If they do not tunnel after one day, try placing a few drops of sugar water onto the sand. This will draw their attention to that spot and hopefully start them digging. Also try blowing into the observatory as this "wakes" them up. If your ants still do not tunnel after 3 days, they have been damaged in shipment and will need replacement. Follow the instructions to receive replacement ants.
Why didn't I receive a queen ant? The Department of Agriculture prohibits interstate shipment of queen ants. They don't want reproducing ants going into other states where they may start colonies that could damage agriculture or the ecosystem. Another reason we don't send queens is because they are very difficult to find. Harvester ants tunnel up to 15 feet straight down when building their colony and may have many thousands of ants per colony. Finding the queen is like finding a needle in a hay stack. See the Queen Ant section.
I didn't get enough sand for my observatory. The sand doesn't come all the way to the top. What do I do now? The sand shouldn't come all the way to the top. The sand should be about 1/4" - 1/2" below the top part of the observatory so that the ants can find their way down into the bottom part. If you do not have enough sand to do this, contact Life Studies and we will send you some more.
Why Western Harvester ants? Western Harvester ants are the best ants we have found for digging tunnels and working under observation. They are very efficient and productive workers that are fun to watch. Other species of ants don't perform as well under observation.
I'm missing a part or parts to my observatory. How do I get the missing parts? Life Studies only supplies the ants for many of the observatories and we do not have the parts for the observatories themselves. You will need to contact the manufacturer of your observatory directly. Here are a few phone numbers to try: Exploratoy - 1-800-995-9290 Educational Insights 1-800-995-9290 Scholastic Book - (212) 343-4507.
If I get more ants, will they fight with the ants that I already have in my observatory? They may and they may not. It is probably best to wait until your original ants have died before getting new ants.
I have ordered ants before, and they have died and I want to start again. Do I need to get new sand along with new ants? It depends how dirty and moldy your observatory is. Most people like to get new sand, clean out the observatory and start completely over again.
How long will my ants live? An ant's life span is normally only about 90 days. Harvester ants seem to live a little longer, usually 2 to 6 months. We had a case where the ants lasted a whole year but that is exceptional. They are small insects and do not have a long life expectancy.
What should I feed my ants? Ants will eat almost anything but their favorites are fresh vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, lettuce, apple, celery, or broccoli. Feed them tiny pieces every other day as needed. You may also want to try small bits of grains, or granola.
I got a large winged ant with my worker ants. What is it? Ants with wings are either female or male ants which have not reached maturity yet. At a certain time each year the mature males and females fly into the air to mate. After mating they lose their wings. The male dies. The female searches for a place to start a new colony as a fertile queen.