How to build an Atta colony all your own

We built an artificial nest to host a colony of Atta cephalotes at Adrian Pinto's lab at the University of Costa Rica, in San José. For this first trial, we built 3 garden chambers where the ants cultivate their fungus and one refuse chamber at the bottom, all connected with PVC tubes. The ants are fed local leaves and flowers in a diet designed by ant experts Allan Artavia and Rolando Moreira, who work in Adrian Pinto's lab. The nest was sealed to avoid air inside the colony mixing with air outside the artificial chamber.  The feeding chamber, the vent, and some other nest areas were insulated to reduce heat loss. We installed 5 sets of sensors to monitor environmental nest conditions and to better understand how CO2 moves through the nests: CO2, temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure.  So far, the colony is growing and the fungus seems to have adapted to the lab conditions.