Glad to hear you have ants roaming through your brain
If you have an active ant colony nearby that would be a perfect place for your experiment. You could put the food out near the entrance of the nest--see if they like it, try a lollipop, or a piece of candy, if they don't like sweets try rotting fruit or meat. Once the ants show interest take it away, then build your barrier of repellent around the same area and replace the bait. You can repeat this with the 3 different repellents at different times.
If you try to create a â€˜controlled environmentâ€™ by removing the ants from the colony into a box or lab--they will die eventually and mess up your experiment.
If you use an existing colony you will know they are all the same species--although ants are opportunists and ants from other colonies may come for the free food. So keep an eye out for interlopers, but that would just add data and interest to your experiment.
If you can video tape the activity that would make a nice addition to your results section
You can create a negative control by setting up the repellent with nothing inside. Record if they go near the repellent, walk over it or avoid it etc.
Where I live it is winter--but I could do this experiment in my house--because the ants live under my living room--and feel free to come out all year if they smell food
Chrysanthemums are know insecticides (not repellents but poison to insects)
Mints are know insect repellents.
There is much to be learned in this discipline.
Califday wrote:I have another idea roaming through my brain regarding science projects>>> ants and natural repellents. If I were to pick three or more non-synthetic/ non-toxic items as variables (like fruits, plants, spices) and evaluate which one is the most effective ant repellent, would I need to test all the items at the same time so they would be the same ants, etc.?( I was thinking of using these items as barriers around sugar or something else sweet.) Anyway, would I put the control in with the other items or is that kind of ruining things as the control would have no repellent and the ants would be more likely to head to the control? Sorry if I am confusing anyone. Thanks in advance for any feedback.