How to Catch Ants

Two Methods:Preparing the JarFinding the Ants

Ants are very fast insects and look hard to catch. But if you follow these simple steps you can easily catch and care for them. If you want a lasting ant colony (farm), you will need to dig into a selected hive and dig out a queen with some ant drones (workers).

Method 1
Preparing the Jar

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    Find a suitable jar. Fill it with enough sand or soil up halfway.
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    Add some enticing food. Ants prefer these items on the bottom.
    • Breadcrumbs.
    • Sugar.
    • Crumbled potato chips (or crisps).
    • Small portions of dead insects or spiders.
    • Overripe fruits.
    • The honeydew from aphids.
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    Cut out some small holes in the lid. Ants need to breathe too!
    • Don't make the holes too big or ants can escape and maybe even bite you.
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    Put on some gloves before heading out to catch ants. This will prevent you from ant bites or scratches from rocks, etc.

Method 2
Finding the Ants

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    Look for ants. Look under logs, large stones, on trees and plants, and even in your kitchen.
    • Know the ants you have in your yard; only catch harmless ants such as sugar ants, as you won't have much fun being stung and bit by other aggressive species, such as fire ants, jack jumper ants, or red ants. Leave aggressive ants alone. If you're not sure, ask someone who does know what species you're trying to catch.
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    When you find an ant put your forefingers together, then your thumbs to create a shape similar to a triangle. Put that around the ant to trap it.
    • If the ant goes under your palms or escapes, then let it go and find a new one.
    • However, if it does go onto your hand, don't panic. Most ants are rather harmless, so don't worry too much about them biting you.
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    Have a friend or parent use the lid of the jar to scrape the ant off. When the ant is on the lid put the lid on the jar and screw the lid on firmly.
    • Another way to get ants is to leave the jar on its side near some ant lines and just let them discover the jar and wander in. It will take longer, it won't always work, but if it does work, you'll capture a few and have no worries about being stung. It is best to do this method if you are a child.
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    Repeat. Get as many ants as you wish to keep.
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    If you want the colony to grow, acquire a queen ant. They are the only ant in the colony that can reproduce. Without her, your colony will last 4-6 weeks.
    • A queen ant is inside the colony with many eggs. It is the biggest ant.


  • Do not use plastic wrap as a lid for an ant farm. The ants will chew through it. Remember to have a medium-sized container so your ants will have some room to support a colony. If you have a plastic container, the ants might be able to crawl out of it. A glass aquarium with a screen works best, assuming you have one lying around.
  • Some species of ant can deliver a painful sting. Ensure you are not dealing with one of these types before trying to catch them.
  • Ants will bite if they feel the need to, so wear gloves at all times when catching ants.

Things You'll Need

  • Jar or plastic container
  • Food
  • Sand or soil
  • Aphids (optional)

Sources and Citations

  • – research source

Article Info

Categories: Ant Pets