The Observation of Ants
Myrmecology has been around since the late 18th and early 19th century. Myrmecology is derived from the Greek word Murmek, which means ant. There are three main names that are most noteworthy: Linne who produced “Systemae Naturae” which he describes eighteen species of ants. Fabricius created five more genera and further described other species. Latreille was the most significant, he collected and studied the ants of Europe and described many species overlooked by his predecessors.
In 1967 a fossil was found that was preserved in amber fossil which showed an extinct species of an ant dating as far back as the Cretaceous Age, near eighty million years ago (as cited in Ant Nest, 2005).
The ant farm that was observed was numbered 15. The farm was located in the back of the biology lab room with artificial lighting. The ant farm structure is a clear plastic panel on two sides separated by a very thin space allowing for viewing by the observer, each of the four sides were made of a blue plastic, the inside had a blue fictitious farm looking structure for the convenience of the observer to get into the mental notion of being an “ant farm” creating a false surface and below ground (surface) appearance. The laboratory room has artificial fluorescent lighting and no windows for natural lighting.
Visual observations without touching the plastic structure of the ant farm are to take place during the normal course of each of the six weeks consecutively that I am to be in the laboratory classroom.
There are nine ants within the structure of the ant farm. Data is to be collected using the natural observation scientific method. This data is to be taken in note format and be extruded to this written scientific paper for submission. A table plotting a graph of the ant tunnel system and how many have been made has been attached as an exhibit.
During the six weekly visits to the laboratory where viewing of the ant farm was possible I noted ant activities that include the measure of how many ants there are and classified by alive versus dead ants, how many tunnels and to what degree and/or significance they may have to ant colony, then a scale of ant activities classified into several categories to include sleep/rest time viewed during my observation period which was usually around twelve noon each week on Wednesday. These measures taken produced a common schema of these particular common nine reddish colored ants and denoted that their activities had a common collective goal for the greater good of their community (colony).
Due to the very limited and structure natural observation viewing schedule the data that has been collected is skewed to this bias. The ants seemed to have a common goal to build a tunneling system that included myriad of tunnels running throughout the ant farm below the artificial surface within the ant farm structure. The ants observed created a total of three “homes” which appeared as a large opening in the sand below the surface where the ants slept or rested in groups that appeared huddled together. There was no queen ant and only appeared to be worker type of ants that diligently went about the ant business of creating and maintaining the tunneling system.
Possibly a better way to view the ant farms would be to either have varying schedules for monitoring the ants by natural observation method. Better yet would be the capacity to view these ants at varying times via the Internet by remote capacity by having the ant farms able to be recorded live through a series of two or more cameras, one of which should have remote control capacity to be able to move about panning from side to side and zoom in and out.
Thereby, random samplings of observations can have a larger capacity to fulfill the scientific criteria methods and be more significant in the depth of such a study.
Myrms Ant Nest. Myrmecology Retrieved February 14, 2005, from