Experimenting with Ant Food: Do Ants Have Favorite Flavors? (page 2)
Make a chart that lists the different flavors along the top, and counts the days of the experiment along the side. Every day, put a star on the chart under the most popular ant food flavor. When you need to add more food, open the bottle to spoon a little more into the bottle caps. If the dirt begins to look dry, add some drips of water. After seven days, just return the ants where you found them!
Questions to think about:
- Did one flavor seem to be a clear favorite? Why might the ants like this one best?
- Which flavor did the ants like the least? Why do you think they avoided this flavor?
- Where might the ants find these flavors in the natural world?
- If you had ants in your house, how could you keep them out? (Think about what you have learned from this experiment!)
You probably found that the ants loved the plain sugar the best, and disliked the salt. Sugar is a high-energy food often found in plant juices, and ants use their amazing sense of smell to find it. Salt, spices, and citric acid have smells that ants avoid, because too much of these things can be harmful.
After any experiment, scientists think about how they could improve their next project. Here are some questions to help you better understand the ant flavor test, and help you think about new experiments you might want to try.
- Why did we mix the different flavors with sugar? Why didn't we just give the ants pure salt, pure red pepper, and pure lemonade mix?
- Why was it important to keep plain sugar as one of the flavor choices?
- Why do you think the ant farm needed the dark paper? How would the ant farm be different if the dark paper did not cover the bottle?
- If you wanted to test what kind of drinks ants like best, what would you use for the liquids?
- What else could you test with your ant farm? How would you test these things?
- Scientists often make little mistakes—called errors—during experiments. These errors can make a difference in the results. What were the errors in your experiment? How could you fix them?
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.