Casting a Fungus Farming Ant Colony with Molten Aluminum (Cast #107)


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    Published on Sep 01, 2021
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    In this video, a cast is made of a fungus farming ant colony (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) using an aluminum alloy. If you’ve seen my other videos, you may have noticed that each species of ant has a very distinct colony structure. Fire ant colonies have a dense network of tunnels with many small chambers whereas carpenter ants usually have a single tunnel leading to just a few large flat chambers. The fungus farming ant colonies have one of the most unique structures of all the colonies I’ve cast. These colonies have very large bulb-like chambers in which they actually farm fungus for food using plant matter as compost.

    The colonies are easily identifiably here because they deposit the excavated dirt in a crescent-shaped mound a few inches from the colony entrance. There are a very large number of these colonies here. You could easily find 50 colonies per acre.

    These colonies are very challenging to cast. They have very narrow (1/8 to 1/4” in diameter) tunnels leading to the large bulbs. During past attempts, the aluminum or zinc hardened in the tunnels before the chambers were filled. This time I used an aluminum alloy which maintains its temperature longer and has lower viscosity. That did the trick.

    More pictures of this cast at:

    Tags :

    ants casting science nature anthill art

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