Fire Ant Physiques: Make An Ant

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Activity: Make a Papier Mache Ant

Overview: Create a model of an ant using balloons and papier-mâché. Learn the parts of an ant, and observe that an ant’s body is symmetrical.

Objective: Learn about the parts of insects and insect symmetry using a model.

A papier mâché model of a fire ant. Image by Kathy Flanders.


  • Long balloons
  • String
  • White glue
  • Warm water
  • Bowls to mix water and glue in for papier-mâché
  • Paint, red
  • Chenille pipe cleaners, 8 for each ant
  • Newspapers
  • Materials for ant eyes (buttons, clay, small Styrofoam balls cut in half, etc.) 


Fig.1. Water and glue solution for making a papier
mache ant.  Image by Kathy Flanders.
Fig. 2. Papier mache ant. Image by Kathy Flanders.
  1. Blow up the balloon and tie the end. Do not blow it up too tight.
  2. Twist the balloon in two places to make the three body segments. Use string to tie the twisted parts. Emphasize the petiole area by using more string or a wider section of tape. You can use more than one balloon and tape them together.
  3. Cover the balloon with papier-mâché. To make papier-mâché, tear newspapers into strips about an inch wide and about 8 to 12 inches long. Mix two parts white glue with one part warm water. Dip the strips of paper into the bowl of water and glue mixture (Fig. 1.) one at a time and wrap the strips around the balloon form. Cover the entire balloon with at least three layers of paper strips to make it strong. (Fig. 2.)
  4. Let the ant dry completely (about 48 hours).
  5. When it’s dry, paint the body red.
  6. Use pipe cleaners for the legs, pushing them into the side of the thorax.
  7. Make the antenna from pipe cleaners, bending them as shown in the drawing.
  8. Glue the eyes onto the head.
  9. Paint the eyes.


  • Think about the parts of an ant and name other insects that have similar parts. How could you make a model of another insect using this technique? What parts might need to be added? What parts would look different?

Additional Information for Instructors

  •  You may want to refer to the original KIDzANTS Teacher Manual, which was included in the original release of the KIDzANTS Red Imported Fire Ant Youth module developed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.