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Ants are one of the many common house pests in Singapore and known to invade many residential homes to forage for anything they can bring back to their colony nest.
But what do ants eat?
The short answer to this question is: almost anything and everything. Most ants are omnivores and are okay with eating plants, seeds, nectar, and even animals. Ants are also opportunistic in their feeding habits, which mean that they can easily adapt to the environment and will eat what they can to remain alive. If you observe ants, you will see ants carrying all kinds of food back to their colony.
While they will eat anything they can to stay alive, ant’s still have a preference for certain kinds of food, especially for certain species of ants. In this article, we look at their diet and discuss 5 common things ants eat:
1. Sweets and sugar
It is common knowledge that ants are attracted to sugar and sweet things, but this is because sugar is important to ants and is an essential component for ants to remain active for the colony. During their forage, ants would always keep a look out for honeydews, nectar, and other products that contain sugar.
When ants find sweet liquid food such as honeydew, fruit juices, or nectar which mostly derives from plants, they store it their abdomen and walk back to the nest. When they reach the nest, they feed the liquid food in drops directly from their mouth to the mouth of other members of the nest.
The carpenter ant which largely nests on moist and dry wood is highly attracted to honeydew. They are often mistaken as termites because of their similarities when it comes to tunnelling their homes. They are able to destroy furniture and other wooden materials in your home. This is why having good house cleaning habits are important to avoid carpenter ants in your home.
2. Protein and fats
On top of sugar and sweets, ants also need protein and fats to help them grow and to avoid ant colonies to die out. Food products like meat and eggs are high in protein and can highly attract ants on the hunt for food. They are also attracted to grease and lard which are common to be found in a household kitchen.
This is the reason why cleaning up mess after eating or food preparation is very important if you don’t want ants creeping around your home. When leftover food is left unattended or not kept in the proper storage places like in the refrigerator, ants will likely end up swarming around it and breaking it up to bring back to the colony. Sweet fruits such as oranges, mangoes – and other carbohydrates, such as rice and bread, are favourites of ants, especially Pharaoh ants. So avoid leaving these out in the open for ants.
3. Living and dead insects
Insects are also high in protein and fat, so ants will not miss an opportunity to take down other insects or scavenge their bodies after they die.
Most of the time, ants will avoid confronting bigger insects and instead wait for them to die before taking the body to their colony. However, some ant species -- like fire ants -- are aggressive and will take down insects bigger than them by swarming in groups.
Fire ants can be a problem when they enter your home since their sting is excruciatingly painful and can leave a long, burning sensation on the skin that can be very irritating. They build their nests or mounds in grassy areas like lawns or outdoor gardens.
Ants not only pride themselves in eating sugar and meat – some species of ants also grow and eat fungus. Ant species like the leafcutter ant grow and eat fungus as their source of nutrition. Fungi like damp areas full of humidity like swamps and garden areas; moulds and mushrooms are a kind of fungi and are very common in humid places like Singapore.
Many think that ants are afraid of water. This, however, is a big misconception: ants actually need water to survive, and will use any method to bring water back to the colony. Ants mostly drink water from small droplets and small puddles, while other species of ants get their source of water from plant saps and flowers that hold nectar.
Keeping your home free of leaks will help keep ants away from your home. Keeping your home leak-free will also help keep other pests like termites and cockroaches from entering your home for a drink.
When it comes to ants, you can expect that they will get anything they can get their pincers on in your home, making them really annoying and hard to deal with. But with regular cleaning and keeping the things mentioned above away from ants, you can try to control and keep them at bay. When all else fail, calling a pest control specialist will be the best option you have in this case.