Archive for the ‘Tunneling Progress’ Category


and then there were Four…

April 6, 2010

The ant farm experiment is slowly winding down.

Here’s how things are looking for the four who remain:

The Final Four

As you can see, many of the tunnels have been blocked off.  Most of the right-third of the habitat is now inacessible and some tunnels on the top left have been capped off as well.  The algae has spread although there is much less visible condensation, so things do appear to be drying out.

Their work at closing off the tunnels is done at a leisurely pace and they continue to spend most of their time grooming.


Ant Update – Day 38

March 21, 2010

Here is how things look today:

Yes, I do think that green area under the farm house portal is mold.  The ants seemed thirsty.  I was feeling lazy.  All signs of humidity within the habitat were gone.  Wouldn’t it be better to make sure that they had all the water they might need for a while?  I certainly didn’t want them dying of thirst (in addition to all the other reasons they could be dying).

Its not that I didn’t know better: I read the instructions, I knew that you were only supposed to put in one or two drops of water at a time.  I didn’t add that much water.  Maybe 5 drops.  The humidity level sure went right back up.  And then it started to turn green.  They were probably happier dry than they are now with the mold and moisture.  Then again, they are also probably happier with the moisture than dead.  And to my detractors I say:  There are still 6 living!  So there!

Other items of note:  They have begun closing off areas of the tunnels, blocking the entrances.  Making a smaller world for fewer ants?


Days Nine to Eleven

February 24, 2010

This is a bit of a catch-up post since I find myself many days behind.

The majority of the tunneling seems to be completed so not as much is changing on a day-to-day basis.

Day Nine

Day 10

Day 11

The status of the portal under the Silo Ramp continues to change – open on Days 9 & 10, closed back over on Day 11.


Day Seven

February 20, 2010

A quick Day Seven Update:

7:40 AM: Working Hard, or Hardly Working?

If you compare this to yesterday’s post not much has changed.  And most of the ants are just hanging around up on Smithie’s mound, grooming, and by all appearances, lazy.

Here’s how things look at the end of the day:

10:57 PM: What?! Again.

Although there is one new tunnel running parallel to the Secret Tunnel, there is also now a total blockage of the portal under the bridge and a dismantling of Smithie’s mound.  Earlier on, there was a similar blocking and subsequent re-opening of the port under the Silo Ramp.  Cooper’s mound has also previously been tunneled through and then rebuilt.

I am really starting to wonder whether the ants have a Master Plan, and if so, what will it eventually reveal?


Day Six

February 19, 2010

Here’s how things are looking at 8:30 PM on Day Six:

Architectural Notes:

  • The port below the Silo Ramp has re-opened.
  • The Secret Tunnel is now joined with the main tunnel complex.
  • Allison has given up on connecting the Frontage Road with the Bridge Portal.
  • Smithie’s Mound continues to be the spot for socializing and grooming.

A short post tonight, but at least you can see how the tunnels are progressing.


Day Five

February 19, 2010

The ants are still tunneling this morning:

Morning, Ants

Headcount of moving ants is still 12, so even though I’ve lost track of the position of the dead ones, their number remains constant.  I suspect that once the tunnels get more complicated, its going to be more difficult to take the census.

Smithie and Cooper continue to trail-blaze the main tunnel extension underneath the Farm House.  Smithie is now working on the mound between the Bridge and the Farmhouse, which will now be referred to as Smithie’s Mound.

Charlie continues to work on the “Frontage Road” tunnel that runs parallel to the surface.  She is maintaining the small mound to the right of the Farmhouse and a similar one behind it.

Allison, a newcomer to mound building, is working the Frontage tunnel that is parallel to the surface below the Barn.  Her mound is at the base of the Silo Ramp.   She is essentially adding to the blockage of the port that would have been the most convenient for her access.  Currently she goes the long way around up through the port under the Bridge.

Someone has closed off the port below the Silo Ramp.  I can’t even speculate on that decision.

When I got home from work this evening, there was a bit of a surprise:

Evening, Ants

The ants have made a secret tunnel!  At least this explains why so many of them were in the vicinity of Allison’s work area, even though they were not excavating from there.  Peering around to the back of the habitat, there is a tunnel that goes from the area below the surface under the Silo Ramp through to the back side and down where it suddenly reappears on the front.

As for the ants working on the secret tunnel – its a long walk back up to the Frontage Road and then down and around to the Bridge port.  Allison has not completed the Frontage Road Extension that looks like it will eventually connect with the Bridge Port, so in the mean time, they have to go all the way around.

I know that ants have a reputation for being well organized, but I’m not so sure I see the master plan here.


Day Four

February 17, 2010

Here’s how things looked when I woke up on Day 4:

Multiple Tunnels!

Despite the inefficiencies that I noticed yesterday, they still got a lot of work done in the last 24 hours. Everyone is working now, as well.  Even the last holdouts have succumbed to industriousness.

I checked the ants again before leaving for work, and look at what is going on:


It looks like they’re trying to tunnel through Cooper’s Mound.   Cooper spent a lot of time building that mound, and I’m not sure I understand why they would now be tunneling through it.  I do think they liked using the open barn door to pass through to the back side of the habitat.

Here’s how things are looking at the end of Day 4:

Coopers mound has been partially restored and partially redistributed.  Yeah, the ants are blurry in this shot – I am using a tripod for the full habitat time-series shots, and I didn’t realize that when the ants are that busy they’re moving too fast for my shutter speed.


Day Two

February 13, 2010

Here’s the scene as we begin Day Two, early Saturday morning.

Can we sleep in a real pile?

Death toll: 4 confirmed dead.  Considering there were only 16 ants to start with, the mortality rate thus far is a bit concerning.  You can see the dead ants in ball form on the right and left of the larger group.  Supposedly, once they get themselves organized, they’ll put the dead ants in a designated ant graveyard.

Most the ants are sleeping or at least I’m hoping that they’re sleeping, or resting, or whatever ants do when they’re not busy being good industrious citizens.

They spent most of the day today doing nothing, but as I write this, around 10pm on Saturday night, things have picked up.  There is much more area excavated under the farm house and a lot of digging activity under the bridge as well.

Getting Busy

I’m happy to see some activity.  It seems like only some of the ants are working and others are still relatively immobile.  That ant up on the far right, on the green plastic house, has been in that position for hours.