Page 1 of 1

Ants

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:34 pm
by Califday
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.

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:44 pm
by EmilyDolson
Hello,

That's another really interesting question, and an interesting dillema. How many ants do you have access to? If your sample size is large enough, you may be able to assume that all of the ants, on average, would react to whatever repellent you present them with in the same way that other ants would. While testing all the repellents on the same ants at the same time would be more controlled in some ways, I don't see any way to do this without the kind of intereference that you are worried about occuring. You would, in effect, be testing multiple variables at the same time, which can never produce valid results.

If you cannot test different repellents on different groups of ants, you could test each one on the same group at different times, as long as the testing periods were at the same time of day for the same length of time. Actually, that would probably be better than using different groups of ants, as the placement of the repellent and sugar could be the same each time.

I hope that made sense. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!

Good luck on your project, whichever one/ones you decide to do!

- Emily

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 7:46 pm
by Grace
Hi Califday,

This is a very creative and interesting project idea! Emily's suggestions are great, and I just want to mention a couple more things for you to consider.

You want to make sure all the ants you are using are the same species because slightly different ants could have different sensitivities to the different compounds you are using as repellents, and that would kind of botch your results.

Also, it may be a good idea to put your ants in a place where they can all have the same access to food (or you can make sure none of them have access to food) for a period of time before you conduct your experiment. The reason I suggest this is that they may act differently depending on how hungry they are, so you'd want to make sure some of your ants aren't hungry while others have eaten recently.

Grace

Re: Ants

Posted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 5:58 pm
by LisaBug
Califday.

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 ‘controlled environment’ 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)
http://darwin.nmsu.edu/~molbio/plant/chrysanthemum.html

Mints are know insect repellents.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha

Good luck!
There is much to be learned in this discipline.

Lisa


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.