Six to eight weeks ago, I ordered the little critters who would amuse me endlessly with their incessant tunneling, and waited for them to arrive. Yesterday, the wait ended.
Around ten in the morning, I put the ants into their new gel-filled home, and by three or so in the afternoon, they'd begun to tunnel down the side. Before bed last night, around twelve hours after they'd moved in, they reached the bottom of the habitat, and started to work their way over to the side.
Holy crap, man. I sat there and watched them dig their way across the bottom for close to thirty minutes. Because of the gel, I could see their mandibles pulling chunks out of the growing tunnel, and it looked like it was sort of blooming open.
When I got up this morning, I ran straight to the ants, and the picture here is what I found: they worked all night long, and have two growing tunnels across the whole thing. In fact, as I've been writing this, they've just broken through on the left side of the picture.
There are things here that still images can't capture: it's surprisingly satisfying to watch one ant start at the top of the habitat and work its way down into the tunnels. They all interact with each other in fantastically interesting ways, probing with their mandibles and antennae, and as far as I can tell, they never complain about the work. When they pass over the LEDs at the bottom of the thing, they cast this eerie shadow up into the gel that looks lie what you'd expect to see if The Abyss and Them! had a love child.
There are a couple more pictures of the habitat in my flickr stream.