Ants!Ants!Ants! the big question is What Do Ants Eat and Drink. surprising right? who thought ants drink, well they do and as you read on, these will be looked at one after the other.
Ants are usually seen to be small creatures that feed on almost anything. Their eating pattern could be said to be amazing and versatile cause they feed on almost anything, unlike other little creatures(insects).
Now we’ll go into a detailed insight into the ant diet.
What Do Ants Eat and Drink
They are almost like humans when it comes to feeding, but there are some areas of differences in the pattern of feeding. These differences are stated below:
- Quantity: Ants feed on a little quantity of food and feel satisfied. One seed of rice which a human might find insulting or perhaps below little maybe too much for one ant to gobble up at once.
- Quality: Ants may feed on anything as long as it’s edible whether clean or dirty, they still feed on them not minding if its a week old or been there in the waste bin for months. They don’t follow a particular diet, unlike human beings who feel detest to repeat a single meal for a whole week.
Ants feed on whatever they find in their paths not minding how long, how many days old or where it has been as long as it is food.
- Type of food: Although we call these little insects ants, they are of different categories/types and being of different types their eating pattern and what they feed on are different. There are a million different species of ants in the world and they don’t all feed on the same food.
Just as the human saying as our faces are different so are our problems different applies in this case “as the ants are different so is what they eat also different”. Below is a list of some of what they feed on:
Who doesn’t like meat? Animal flesh that is eaten as food, who wouldn’t like this right? Well, our little friends also feed on this, as little as they are. Meat is made up of fat, water and protein and ants feed on these, although in small quantities. Examples are the safari ant and the army ant. These are our meat hunters.
Ants are so much in love with sweet things. They consume the sugar in our homes directly or indirectly from sugary substances such as biscuits e.t.c. They sometimes get the sugar from plants by sucking or extracting its nectar, so whenever ants are seen around plants they aren’t after the plant itself but the sweet juicy nectar. Examples of such ants are the Meat ant and the sugar ant.
Plants and seed
As was stated earlier not all ants feed on the same type of food, so it is in this case. This category of ants do not specialize in feeding on meat or even sugar but rather prefer to venture off in the gardens, farms e.t.c, where there are plants and seeds for them to feast on. We can refer to them as our gardeners.
Although we can’t fully refer to these ants as herbivores but based on their feeding habits it can be agreed that they are something close to that.
Shocking right? how will you feed on a fellow member of your colony? well, tell that to our little friends the ant-eaters. It is an amazing fact to discover that some ants feed on other insects including a fellow ant. They do this by chewing on them with their huge mandibles and cutting them into small sizes to be carried into their small holes and stored or devoured instantly.
The queen ant whose only duty is to lay eggs sometimes feeds on these eggs during serious periods of famine and hunger. Another category is the army ant who attack colonies of other ants to feed on the eggs and young ones.
Cruel right? well, its the circle of life!
It is not a new thing to know that ants feed on wood, Although not all ants do some are really good at it. Ants do not directly feed on the wood or its cellulose but boreholes into the wood making it hollow as they nest in it. Examples of these ants are the carpenter ant. Seeing their relation with wood is why they are called the carpenter ant.
Every living can’t do without water, and an ant is not an exception. Now the big question would be how do they drink their water? well, ants do not drink water as humans do, they derive the water from the food they eat and from droplets of water that appear on thin exposed objects e.g leaves e.t.c, these water droplets are termed dew.
This answers our question What do ants eat and drink? as we now know they drink Honeydew and even water.
It is sometimes observed that some ants are seen moving around with leaves, well these leaves aren’t consumed directly. The ants cut the leaves and take them to their burrows(homes), the leaf is chewed into smaller sizes known as the pulp, these pulps are stored together with their excretes and give rise to a mixture known as fungus. leaf-cutter ant is an example of these species of ants, and gain nourishment from the fungus.
Now whether sugar ants, carpenter ants or even the army ants, all ants are termed foragers as they are always in wild search for a food source. The worker ants go out in search of the food source when one is found they return to their burrows leaving behind chemical trails for other ants to sense and follow to the food source.
This is only but a few ant diets.
Mouth Part Of Ants
All insects have mouthparts for feeding, some for biting and chewing, piercing and sucking, while others for boring holes.
Ants are heavily endowed with large mandibles. Most insects in the world are occupied with the mandible which they use in feeding and several other purposes, but the mandible is more utilized in the ants. The ants use their mandibles for many different purposes which is why the mandible is one of the very important body parts of an ant.
Below Is A List of The Important Roles The Mandible play In the Life Of An Ant(This should be looked at before the question of what do ants eat arises):
- For Carrying Objects: Just like most insects ants lack forelegs for lifting objects, they, therefore, make use of their mandibles which they use in carrying all sorts of objects, such as food particles of varying sizes(sometimes smaller than the ant and sometimes bigger than the ant itself).This shows how powerful the mandible of an ant can be. The mandibles are not only used in lifting solid food particles but even liquid(e.g. honeydew, water), yes ants drink. Most insects are known to be very social to the extent of building nests in which they inhabit or dwell in, an ant is not an exception as its powerful mandible is also an important tool in digging into the dirt and even wood.
- Hunting And Defence: Ants are known for their great hunting skills as they use their mandibles to grasp prey. The mandible of some ants contains paralyzing stings that they use against enemies when hunting or defending their territories. A common example of these ants is the army ant known to possess paralyzing stings and large mandibles which they use to charge against their prey.
- Processing Of Food: After hunting prey, the prey is carried by the fellow nest mates of the hunter ant into their nest for storage and sometimes to feed on. The ants do not just feed on the food just like that but use their mandibles to tear and disassemble the food into consumable sizes. Ants also use their mandibles to grind food.
Other Mouth Parts Of The Ant Include:
- The Labrum(Upper Lip)
- The Labium(Lower Lip)
- The paired Maxillae.
Damage Caused By Ants
Though ants are seen to be very little creatures not even up to half the size of a newborn baby, their feeding habits pose a great threat to lives and properties as they incur extreme damages to them. Though seeing a few ants in a home isn’t such a bad idea, having a whole lot of them in every corner of the home could lead to regrets. Below is a list of the damages caused by an ant due to its feeding habits:
- Damage to personal household items: Ants feed on a variety of things i.e. they feed on almost everything. Sadly our furniture is among the list of what they feed on as it is made of wood. As stated earlier ants bore holes into wood to dwell in, and boring these holes will damage household furniture as particles of wood will be found around. Paper is also not an exception as ants chew into them and damage them. This paper could be important documents and if the ants are not exterminated they could incur great damage to them. The question What do ants eat, household items are also part of it
- Painful Bites: One of the great tools ants possess is its large mandibles which contain paralyzing stings. These stings may not have much of an effect on a human but can be very painful and itchy. Though a sting from one ant may not be very effective as you can easily shun it, receiving that sting from more than one ant could cause a whole lot of pain and itching.
- Causes Allergies: Allergies are an effect in the human body in which the human body reacts negatively to a foreign substance, this could be sneezing to mention but a few. An ant could be a foreign substance to an individual’s immune system and could cause allergies, so this calls for the complete extermination of ants from the home.
- Reduction In Farm Income: These little creatures are also known for feeding on plants and crops that are to be sold. Feeding on these crops could reduce the appearance of the crops and the number of crops to be sold therefore reducing the income of the farmer.
This therefore implies, The greater the number of crops the greater the income and The lower the number of crops the lower the income of the farmer.
- Reduction in crop yield: Attacks by ants on crops isn’t really good as it can reduce the yield of the crops i.e. as the crop is growing, the ants are feeding on them and it won’t really yield or produce as expected. Reduction in crop yield could lead to a reduction in crop sale leading to a reduction in farmer’s income and ultimately lead to a reduction in the economic gain or profit of a country.
So, therefore, Reduction in crop yield=Reduction in crop sale=Reduction in farmer’s income=Reduction in country’s economy.
The question of what do ants eat and drink has been broken down in a more detailed form for the satisfaction of our viewers. We hope we’ve been of help in answering questions concerning the subject topic and if there be a need for more information we will make sure it is looked into.