Best Ant Farm: Our Top 5 Picks


The ant farm is an age-old science project that never seemed to turn out well for most of us who are now adults. Either our ants died immediately, or they never did anything interesting enough to note.

Part of the problem we faced was a boring ant farm that featured a design not up to scratch for a science experience.

The other part was that we could only order ants from catalogs, and even then, it was expensive, and the ants would arrive dead. Even those of us industrious enough to hunt for ants outside were ultimately disappointed.

Today’s ant farms are a far cry from trying to feed fruit to tiny ants. They have smart features, nutrient-filled gels, and strict instructions for caring for an ant colony. Indeed, the kids today have it all, and they don’t even know it.

Are you hesitant to bring your child’s ant farming dreams to life? Don’t be. Use our guide to find the best ant farm to find the perfect home for your little entomologist.

How We Made Our Choices

ant farm under the leaf

Image via Flickr

Today’s ant farms maintain the relatively simple design found in older Uncle Milton ant farm kids, but they come with a few updates.

We looked for ant farms that feature sturdy construction and offer features that keep the ants alive longer, like feeding systems. We also preferred the farms that help kids see more of the action going on inside, which is the wider point of keeping ants in the house.

To make our choices, we combined both the specs provided by the manufacturers, common sense, and some points that only a wary parent would consider.

The combination of the three allowed us to pick out some products we can be proud of and shouldn’t lead to an indoor ant colony living outside the ant farm.

Best Ant Farm: Our Top 5 Picks

Think all ant farms are the same? Think again. The bulk of the ant farms on our list represent a new era of science experiments. Ants living in these stately palaces require no feeding or watering, and the colonies live for months at a time.

These are our top five picks for the best ant farm for young scientists.

Eviva Ant Ecosystem with Enhanced Blue Gel

Amazing Ant Habitat W/ LED Light. Enjoy A Magnificent Habitat. Great...
  • INCLUDES A 6.5 X 5.5 INCH GEL ANT HABITAT (LED PLUG NOT INCLUDED), LED light base, small power cable, discount code for...
  • HIGHEST RATED AND BEST ANT HABITAT: The cool blue LED lights give the kit extra awesomeness! Apart from making it look...
  • THE MOST INTRICATE TUNNELS YOU EVER SAW: That’s right! We take pride in the quality of our educational games and...

Eviva Science’s ant habitat is one of the best-loved ant farms currently available on the market. It’s a far cry from the old wood and glass ant farms of today’s parents’ childhood.

The kit is a large plastic enclosure equipped with blue LED lights and a blue gel. These additions do more than make the case look stellar. The light is a trigger for ants, and it causes them to dig longer, deeper tunnels within the ecosystem.

Eviva’s blue gel illuminates the ant tunnels, but it is also full of nutrients that help your ant colony live longer.

It works best with 25-30 ants, but you can add as many as 40. However, Eviva can’t recommend adding 40 ants.

Eviva’s ecosystem comes with all the accessories needed to get started. The package includes a magnifying glass, stick, and plenty of instructions in an educational e-book. 

It does not, however, come with live ants. You’ll need to buy those separately.

Some parents might question the need for the LED light and may worry about plugging the light in. The light is safe, and you don’t need to leave it on all the time.

Visibility isn’t dramatically impacted by avoiding the light, and you don’t even need to plug it in at all. However, Eviva says that the LED encourages the ant to dig tunnels, and the light improves visibility.

When the ants die, you have two options. First, you can remove the dead colony and add new ants.

The new ants may not tunnel as well, but they will add to the network of tunnels. You can also scrape out the gel and add the new gel to restart your farm. The second option isn’t as easy as the first, but it’s feasible if you commit yourself.

NAVADEAL Connecting Ant Farm Castle

NAVADEAL Ant Farm Castle, Habitat Educational & Learning Science Kit...
  • A SPECTACULAR HABITAT FOR ANTS- A great science habitat for kids to watch ants create 3D tunnels and society, there also...
  • BLUE GEL WITH NUTRITION- translucent gel offers a new and Unique Perspective from that of soil-based habitats....
  • PACKAGE INCLUDES: Ant Farm with gel pre-filled x1, plastic pipette x1, nipper x1, cotton pad x2, manual x1. Product...

The NAVADEAL Connecting Ant Farm Castle is an ant paradise and an excellent scient project for kids age six years and over. 

NAVADEAL’s castle is one of the most complex ant enclosures available. The whole system works to extend the life of the ants through smart design. Its design features make using the feeding system simpler and offer more ventilation to other ant farms.

The castle also includes a nursing system for reproduction. Ants scurry around the whole castle using a series of plastic connector tubes.

You can also use the plastic connector tubes to connect your farm to a second farm and create a Versailles-size ant castle. Also, you can connect it to any other ant farm as long as the tubes fit.

You’ll get two types of gel with the castle. The clear gel provides a new perspective designed for you to see the ants better, and the blue gel serves as ant food.

You can also add small pieces of fruit to the feeding system to feed the ants, but they can survive on gel alone.

NAVADEAL doesn’t include live ants with the purchase. The company suggests adding carpenter or harvester ants to the castle. You’ll get the best results by adding 10 to 15 ants so as not to overcrowd the castle. You can expect the ants to live for two to six months.

Live 2 Connectable Ant Farms

Live 2 Connectable Ant Farms Shipped with 25 Live Ants Now (1 Tube of...
  • We ship LIVE ANTS with a set of 2 connecting 9”x6” Uncle Milton ant farms, shipped to your house right now.
  • Watch ants travel between the 2 ant farms through clear, flexible Antway Connector Tubes. Super fun to watch.
  • You get: 1 tube of 25 live ants, 2 ant farm habitats, 24-inch clear flexible Antway Travel Tube for connecting the...

The Live 2 Connectable Ant Farms includes two Uncle Milton ant farms and two connector tubs to give your ants the freedom to roam between the two 9-inch by 6-inch farms.

The farms also include a water feeder and clean tunneling sand to keep the ants healthy and happy.

This is one of the simplest products on our list. It is the one that most closely resembles the ant farms you grew up with as a child.

The Live 2 Connectable Ant Farm is one of the few ant farms that still ships with live ants. Because the farm includes two farm systems connected by tunnels, you’ll get around 50 ants or 25 ants in two tubes.

While they do ship live Western Harvester ants to your door, you’ll need to be sure that you meet the temperature requirements.

If you order during a period where the air temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 85 degrees, then the ants may not survive transport.

Additionally, the company offers a live arrival guarantee, but the guarantee becomes void if you ship ants during extreme temperatures.

The company leaves it up to the buyer to check the temperatures, and they won’t warn you if you do not check the forecast. As a result, this ant farm isn’t a particularly good Christmas present if you count on the live ants to show up.

Fascinations AntWorks

Fascinations AntWorks Illuminated Blue
  • Fascinations designs product to illustrate many magical aspects of our world
  • Watch as your ants explore, discover, and develop new territories
  • Kit includes instruction booklet with ant order coupon

The Fascinations AntWorks farm is one of the sleekest looking designs you’ll find in the world of science toys. If it looks out of this world, it is.

The design benefitted from the findings of a 2003 NASA Space Shuttle experiment that studied how ants build tunnels in zero-gravity and micro-gravity environments.

It features a clear glass case with a light blue gel that illuminates ant activities and tunnels. The blue gel serves as the nutritional gel that allows the ants to thrive in a no water or food environment.

What do you get in the box? You get a pre-filled ant farm, a magnifying glass, a magnifying loupe, and a stick to start the tunnels.

Fascinations do not include ants in the shipment. You’ll need to buy your own, and the manufacturer recommends buying harvester ants.

One thing to note is the lack of ventilation system. Fascinations recommend opening the lid at least every two weeks to allow air into the tube.

However, you might find you need to open the top far more often than that, or the ants grow sluggish and eventually die. Additionally, opening the lid means you dramatically increase the risk of escape.

Harvester ants, in particular, are aggressive when they see the moment of opportunity for escape arise. You’ll need to make sure that only an adult opens the lid, and you’ll want to avoid opening the lid as often as possible.

Anthouse Ant Farm Mushroom Kit

Ant Farm Mushroom Kit (Formicarium, Ants)
  • True anthill, valid for the raise of ants, with queen. It's an original and decorative ants nest.
  • All what is needed to start at the world of ants; you won’t need anything else.
  • No ants are included.

The anthouse Ant Farm Mushroom Kit differs from all the other farms on our list because it concerns itself less with watching the ants and more with colony building.

Rather than an ant tunneling system, this is more akin to building an ant hill, which is a place where ants live, breed, and thrive.

The box is the most high-tech out of any of the ant farms here. It includes a water tank to promote humidity as well as a foraging box with a lid and humidity system that is low maintenance but still provides a suitable living environment for the ants.

You’ll need to lift the foraging box lid to feed the ants, which should be the parent’s job as lifting any lid can result in an escape attempt.

Anthouse says the box is suitable for any species as long as they aren’t “too big,” but we recommend sticking to the ants you’d typically put in an ant farm.

It is also suitable for adding a queen to build the colony, but you might find queen ants hard to get online as the USDA discourages the selling of queen ants.

We think this is one of the few scenarios where foraging for ants outside would work well because ants from your backyard are more likely to live and thrive in the kind of environment built here as compared to other traditional ant farms.

How to Buy Live Ants and Keep Them Alive

Most ant farms today don’t come with live ants because they don’t like to guarantee the live arrival of ants. 

So where do you get the ants for your ant farm? While you can still go out an find them yourself, we recommend buying ants rather than tracking them down.

The ants you pick up in your yard or at the park will be smaller than the ants you buy, which makes them less fun to watch. You may also not get ants that like to tunnel.

Thankfully, the process of shipping ants is relatively easy thanks to overnight and next-day shipping, but it’s imperative not to expose ants to dramatic temperatures to ensure their survival.

Buying ants means that you’ll pick up the right ants for your farm (some farms request specific ants), and you’ll get the correct number of ants for your population.

We’ll show you how to buy the right ants for your colony and how to keep them alive for months at a time.

Where to Buy Ants

Today, most people elect to buy ants from online retailers.

There are specialty retailers that sell ants and other insects directly to consumers. The most common ants found for sale are harvester ants.

Harvester ants are popular because they’re the right size for viewing through an ant farm. They also have a large mandible, which makes them avid tunnelers.

Good retailers will always warn you of the temperature restrictions associated with buying ants online. A combination of cold (or hot weather) with high order volumes may result in shipping delays.

Do you live in Oregon or Hawaii? If so, you cannot buy ants online. 

Note: you can’t buy queen ants in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture banned the transport of these ants because importing them to a new ecosystem can do damage to the local area.

When queen ants establish a colony somewhere they don’t naturally exist, they can invade and put pressure on the biodiversity of the region.

ant restriction on ant farm

Image via Flickr

How to Keep Ants Alive

Many kids’ toys come with nutrient gels that feed the ants enough to help them live and thrive over several months.

The nutrient gel represents the bare minimum in ant care, and you’ll always do better to spend more time on your

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