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Ant Walls

Large feature walls using NASA ant gel technology
  (+8, -1)
(+8, -1)
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Aquariums are getting to be waaaay too much work and herpetariums are too dangerous (the alligator / cobra escapes and eats the kids).

Introducing the Ant Wall - a thick layer of NASA ant gel [link] sandwiched between large panes of structural glass. The wall comes in two meter square panels, each with a sealable opening for introduction of your favourite ants.

Install the panels, then collect some different types of ants to populate them. Over the years, the little guys will create an amazing work of art in the gel and your home will feel alive!

Mood lighting is from strip lights in the bottom or top, though there is a 'Little Girl's Room' model with fibre-optic filaments delivering multicoloured effects.

Other suitable arthropods may also work, such as the giant Australian rainforest cockroach.

A variation on [RayfordSteele]'s 'Slice of Nature Wall' idea, [link] which was a cracker.

ConsulFlaminicus, Nov 29 2004

Inspiration http://innovatoys.c...age/1/prod/antworks
Small ant farm based on the NASA gel [ConsulFlaminicus, Nov 29 2004]

Halfbaked Slice of Nature Wall http://www.halfbake...ce-Of-Nature_20Wall
Prior Art by [RayfordSteele] [ConsulFlaminicus, Nov 29 2004]

Giant Burrowing Cockroach http://www.abc.net....facts/cockroach.htm
Goth households may care to use these instead of ants [ConsulFlaminicus, Nov 29 2004]

Nest Lifecycle http://www.findarti...is_1_59/ai_95845306
What no queens? [zen_tom, Nov 29 2004]

Ant FAQ: http://www.infowest.com/life/faq.htm
Info about maintaining an ant farm. [Amos Kito, Nov 29 2004]


       Yeah, aquariums and other animal entrapment devices for human entertainment are cruel... but we can provide ants with enough space to do their thing and still let us watch them. [+]
Pericles, Nov 29 2004

       or you could just smear jam on the walls
dentworth, Nov 29 2004

       [dentworth] didn't know you'd been to my house!
oneoffdave, Nov 29 2004

       I saw the gel-based small (real) version advertised and wondered about the seeding mechanism. Isn't there a social structure in a real ant heap that this misses? If you just pick up any old worker ant and incarcerate it in your wall, won't you end up with a very dysfunctional antheap (no queen(s))? How come this works at all?
jutta, Nov 29 2004

       I'm no myrmecolgist, but I've a feeling that after a certain amount of time separated from the nest, a regular ant can change into an egg laying queen. Let me do a google...   

       No, seems as though you need a queen. [From the link]...   

       "All but a few pupae hatch into wingless sterile (unable to reproduce) females known as ants. The largest workers are soldiers. They care for the queen, whose sole task now is egg-laying."   

       I suppose the nest would work ok, but without any new ants, the existing ones would die out after a while.   

       Has anyone ever kept ants? I'd think they'd make an interesting pet if you could see what they got up to underground. WHere do you get a queen from?
zen_tom, Nov 29 2004

       You capture her with other winged ants when they are swarming.
FarmerJohn, Nov 29 2004

       This is baked, isn't it? --not seeing any real difference between this idea and the inspirational link.
ldischler, Nov 29 2004

       You can buy replacement ants, or might get some free from a biology lab. This project won't be a low-maintanance substitute for a large saltwater aquarium. You'll need systems to adjust heat, humidity, and air flow, none of which were critical in a half-cup of gel on your desk. Replacing the wall twice a year will be expensive, and you WILL need to change it -- can you make your own gel?   

       //How come this works at all?//
[jutta], ants dig. Maybe they're looking for the misplaced nest? Specialized ants (soldier, nurse, honeypot, etc.) will die, having no support structure, and the workers remain. They all die quickly, anyway -- low life expectancy, even in a thriving nest.

       Per the NASA Ant Gel [link]:
//Life expectancy is 6 months!//
That seems to be a very optimistic estimate.
Amos Kito, Nov 29 2004

       [ldischler] the 'Slice of Nature Wall is a dirt-based standard ant farm, not see through. Sure it has a sculptural element to it, but not to the extreme of the Ant Wall.   

       [Amos Kito] Agree the biology would need to be refined, perhaps to the extent of providing a suitable species with the Ant Wall units - Colonies of the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, live 15-20 years, for example. Also, I thought that the larger mass of the Ant Wall panels, the extraordinary ability of all the colonial hymenopterans to regulate their microenvironments and the fact that the Ant Walls are used as internal dividing walls so they are in quite a sheltered environment already, would obviate the need for sophisticated environmental systems.
ConsulFlaminicus, Nov 29 2004

       //Has anyone ever kept ants?// I antsat for a friend's child. Fascinating little critters - it was hard to pull myself away from watching them. Two died in a tunnel colapse on the drive over to our house, and the others dug them up and burried them in their and burial ground. The ants come through the mail, and do not come with a queen.
Worldgineer, Nov 29 2004

       Surely if you were to include a queen the ants would over populate and cause madness. I propose a life limiting chemical or genetic modification to all the ants except the queen. The ants would die off and the queen would make more with the remaining ants. The queen would live out her life and continue to reproduce until dead. This makes for a much longer product life.
umm0i, Nov 30 2004

       Well, you're only fifteen, so I'll refrain from pulling that anno to pieces.
ConsulFlaminicus, Nov 30 2004


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