Perhaps you've found a few pests around your home that has lead you trying to answer the question of, “What do ants eat?” Even if they are not in you house, chances are if you have ever had a picnic or been camping, you have probably been invaded by these hungry little insects at some point.
Ants are present on every continent except Antarctica and with over 12,000 species worldwide, it is safe to say that they have a very diverse diet. In fact, ants are omnivores and will eat virtually anything.
These insects are intriguing due to the fact that they have an amazing ability to create a meal for themselves out of anything. Some species prefer dead animals or plants while others opt for fruit, sugar, oils, seed and vegetables.
Ants Have A Sweet Tooth
Almost every species of ants cannot resist the temptation to dine on something sweet, whether it's time for dessert or not. Therefore, if you are out having a picnic lunch, it's the jam in your sandwich or the abundance of sugar you mixed into your lemonade that they are really drawn to. The sugar in sweets is what supplies the ants with their energy so additionally, they love carbohydrates too.
If ants can't find a dropped ice-cream cone or a piece of watermelon sitting out at a picnic table they will feed off of honeydew that is left behind by other insects. This sweet substance is secreted from the aphids as the previous insect ingested plant juices. Ants will essentially take the aphids to their colony and milk them to get out the honeydew. It is also interesting to note that an adult is only capable of digesting liquid foods so they need honeydew left behind by other insects for survival.
Other Sources Of Food
There are many ant species that feed off of dead insects including grasshoppers and caterpillars. Seeds are often collected by Harvester ants and the Argentine ant is happy to eat meat, oil, eggs and anything else that is left laying around.
Rainforests found in Central and South America are home to Leaf-cutter ants. This ant species literally cuts leaves off of plants and carries them down to nests built underground where they then turn them into pulp by chewing on them. The pulp becomes stored along with feces causing a growth of fungus on the decaying matter. This fungus is the diet of this ant species.
Why Do Ants Show Up So Fast?
Scout ants are sent out to find food. When they have located some, they leave a trail of pheromones behind for the other ants to follow. After they have eaten and are transporting food to the colony the chemicals in the pheromones get stronger causing excitement in more ants to follow the trail. The more ants on a trail, the more pheromones are produced and that is why as soon as you drop something sweet outside, you see swarms of ants around it in a short amount of time.
Ants are actually the smartest insect species in the world housing over 250,000 brain cells, unfortunately for them, they live less than 60 days. It is also proven that they can run extremely fast due to having three joints in their legs.
These are incredibly strong insects and have the ability to lift over 20 times more than what they weigh. Ants also come in many colors such as brown, yellow, red, blue, green and purple.
Female and male ants both have large wings when they are born. After they mate, the wings fall off the male and he usually dies quite soon. The wings on the female take her to begin her own colony and they eventually fall off after she reaches her destination.
Ants are an interesting little insect if you take the time to learn a little bit about them. So what do ants eat? Everything!