How to pick an ant farm for grown-ups

Let’s ants.

Keeping ants alive isn't easy. A typical colony requires regular fruit ­infusions, lots of water, and protein sources such as mealworms, crickets, and fruit flies. Because these pets can't freely roam your home (that's called an infestation), you'll need to set up a formicarium—the technical name for an ant farm. Choose a species appropriate for your skill level, then trust these teensy-weensy towns to ensure your ant experiment is an active success.

Easy

Casita from Tar Heel Ants

Casita from Tar Heel Ants
The hardy Messor barbarus is a perfect first subspecies—and this is their ideal starter home. The aerated concrete material holds in moisture, which provides your insects the humid conditions they need to thrive. And a port drilled into the back of the unit allows for a quick water injection via syringe.Ralph Smith

Medium

Gypsum Farm from Ants Kingdom

Gypsum Farm from Ants Kingdom
Established your ant-tending skills? It's time to start a colony. Capture a local queen (the common Lasius niger is a good target during its mating flight each fall), and install her and a few workers in this formicarium. String the plaster modules together with tubing as the population grows.Ralph Smith

Hard

Omni Nest from Ants Canada

Omni Nest from Ants Canada
Thrill-seekers farm dangerous species such as the fire ant. But poisonous—and possibly invasive—critters need to be locked down. This spacious insect domicile is a series of 17 individual acrylic chambers held together with steel screws for maximum security—and high visibility.Ralph Smith