What do ants eat? — Drew’s student essay
What Do Ants Eat?
Ants are omnivores, meaning they quite literally eat anything and everything. Ants act like scavengers and take advantage of whatever environmental opportunities arise. Even though ants can and will eat anything, they certainly do have food preferences. The 5 most common things ants eat are:
1) sugars and sweets.
2) proteins and fats.
3) living and dead insects.
Ants have the ability to find food using chemosense. Chemosense is an extremely sensitive, accurate and reliable way to search out food. Ants us their mandibles to carry food. They can carry as much as 20 times their body weight.
Like humans, ants need food for fuel. Sugar and sweets are complex carbohydrates that provide the largest source of energy for ants. A significant portion of an ants diet comes from sweets and sugars.
Food and drink spills containing high fructose corn syrup provide a feast for ants. Fruits such as strawberries, bananas, oranges, mangoes and melons can be detected by an ants chemosense from a long distance.
It has been reported that ants may travel as far as 100 yards to retrieve food. Other sought after sweets are popsicles, ice cream, candy, jelly, honey, syrup, juice, and other sugary drinks like soda or pop. The sugary liquid in plants, also known as nectar, is a major sweet food source for ants in nature’s environment.
Proteins and fats are also a common and favorite food options of ants. Examples of proteins and fats that ants prefer are a variety of meats, lard, grease, seeds, and nuts. Proteins and fats are the building blocks for many living creatures. These building blocks are essential for overall strength and growth. Ants are known to eat both living and dead insects and other animals. This may include spiders, worms, ticks, other ants, small animals and eggs from other insects or animals.
Ants can be like vultures and hyenas, which they prefer dead or decaying carcasses. These insects and other animals provide excellent nutritional sources of protein and amino acids needed for survival. Almost all ants are characterized as foragers. The worker ants leave the nest to search out food sources. Once food is located, the workers return to the nest, leaving behind a chemical trail called pheromones. The colony of worker ants use the trail of pheromones to travel back and forth to the food source.
The worker ants collect and transport food back to the home colony. Approximately 240 different species of attine ants in South America, Caribbean and North America are known to farm fungus as a favorite food source. The fungus is usually found on various plants. Leaf cutter ants carve out areas of plant leaves that contain the fungus and carry it back to their nests.
The Fungus provides nutrition, rich in lipids and carbohydrates. In 2008, researchers found an ant of the nomadic species in the Malaysian rainforests. This Malaysian ants primary food source is mushrooms. Researchers observed a whole 1.4 ounce toadstool mushroom getting consumed in a mire 3 hours. Lastly, ants do need water to survive. A typical ant requires about 7 microliters of water per day, which is about 1/5th of a drop of water. Ants can drink water from puddles or from drops of dew on plant leaves.
However, they do consume much of their water intake through their food sources. In conclusion, it is clear that ants have a very diverse diet. Ants are not picky eaters. They are amazing creatures that can live and survive on nearly any given food source