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Field Storage Container

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8 replies to this topic

#1 Online dspdrew - Posted March 20 2014 - 12:14 AM

  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
I have always ran into a few problems while out anting, one being that a lot of the time it gets WAY too hot in my truck to leave live ants in there without the risk of killing them, and two, finding a spot to place the test tubes or containers so that they don't continue to roll and rattle around. I came up with something simple that solves both of these problems. I just used an old small ice chest and some of the foam rubber packing material I have always used to hold test tubes.
I placed a 6" x 6" x 3/4" block of solid steel in the very bottom with foam around it to keep it from moving around. The steal is so dense that it holds its temperature for a very long time, and being that the ice chest is already well insulated from outside conditions, this makes for a VERY steady temperature in there, even when sitting in a really hot car for hours. I like to put it in the fridge for a while before I leave, that way by the time I put something in it, the temperature is just right. Obviously, the weight of it also keeps the ice chest from tipping over and moving around much. Since I don't actually carry this thing around, I'm not worried about the added weight.
I cut two pieces of the foam rubber packing material to fit inside perfectly. In this particular container I can fit nine test tubes on each piece of foam.
This is the first layer of foam and test tubes.
And here's the second.
To keep everything even more secure, I placed one more piece of foam rubber on top so the lid holds it all in tightly.
I also added a little thermometer/hygrometer in there too to help monitor the conditions.
I drilled holes in the top foam layer to fit my collection containers just right, in case I need to store some of them inside these also.
Edit: Added four new pictures.

Edited by dspdrew, June 20 2020 - 11:29 PM.

  • cpman likes this

#2 Offline WeatherAnt - Posted March 27 2014 - 7:49 PM


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That's a cool idea! Whenever I've transported insects/ants I've always been conserned about the temperatures. Though I'd usually just end up carrying them with me if I went back out bug hunting haha.

#3 Online dspdrew - Posted May 9 2015 - 1:02 AM

  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Just added four new pictures. I always end up needing to store some of my collection containers in my truck too, and there was never any room for them inside these coolers until now. Nothing rolls around inside them either.

#4 Offline Gregory2455 - Posted May 9 2015 - 9:19 AM


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I was attempting something like this as well.

#5 Offline Foogoo - Posted May 9 2015 - 10:42 AM


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Any suggestions on where to find eggcrate foam? It's everywhere when I don't need it, and impossible to find when I need it.

Camponotus vicinus, Crematogaster 1, Crematogaster 2, Formica francoeuri, *, *, Myrmecocystus testaceus, Novomessor cockerelli, Pheidole hyatti, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, Solenopsis invicta

#6 Online dspdrew - Posted May 9 2015 - 10:51 AM

  • LocationSanta Ana, CA


#7 Online dspdrew - Posted April 8 2018 - 12:17 AM

  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
So this thing has worked great over the years. I bought a larger cooler so I can make a larger one. I stopped using that steel block for temperature stabilization, and started using two little square containers of water instead.
I think it holds its temperature just as good, and is a lot lighter. The water also keeps the humidity up inside it too. Today I decided to test that out too to see if it was really worth the extra trouble. I might even try running the test with the old steel block in there too.
I put an outdoor thermometer with a remote right in the center of the cooler so I could monitor the temperature without opening it. I made sure the air and water inside the cooler was exactly 75 degrees when I put it in my bathroom, heated up to about 95 degrees.
I'm going to keep track of the test here as it goes.
Without water containers in 95 F ambient temperature

Length of Time (Hours)     Temperature (°F)
0                          75
1                          81
2                          87
3                          93
4                          95
With water containers in 95 F ambient temperature

Length of Time (Hours)     Temperature (°F)
0                          75
1                          78
2                          81
3                          84
4                          87
With steel block in 95 F ambient temperature

Length of Time (Hours)     Temperature (°F)
0                          75
1                          80
2                          88
3                          94
4                          95
Edit: Clearly the water containers work best.

Edited by dspdrew, June 20 2020 - 11:30 PM.

#8 Online dspdrew - Posted April 30 2018 - 2:23 AM

  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
I made a new, much larger container.
Drilling holes in the foam for the containers.
Silicone water container insert.
I also have Hydrostone in the bottoms of my collection containers now.
I do this to keep them humid and to give the queen ant or whatever is in them a source of water. This also allows them to survive for a few days in case I don't have the time to move them to test tubes or some other container right away when I get home.
To prepare them, I simply take all the lids off and pour them all into a container of water until they are all saturated. Then I pour the water out of them and put the caps back on and they're ready to go.
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#9 Offline sgheaton - Posted April 30 2018 - 5:20 AM


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I want PirateChef to post his backpack. Just throwin' tubes in there willy nilly with a blanket.. I think Zero more or less does the same... 

Meanwhile Drews got this sophisticated porta-coooler with drilled out inserts... Looks really nice but you forgot the sandwich compartment.


An excellent long term transportation solution. Looks great!!

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