Ants are generally opportunistic feeders, looking for sources of fat, protein and carbohydrates. However, certain species will prefer certain foods, with some going for sugars, others going for meats, and others still going for straight fat.
Certain ant species love sugars. It’s why you have to be careful to remove any sugary liquid spill whenever it occurs. In nature, the ants will seek out sugary plant nectar, or a substance known as honeydew, which is produced by aphids. In fact, ants love honeydew so much that they evolved farming capabilities, where they take honeydews back into their colonies and raise them for the honeydew they produce. The ants will feed them, care for them, and extract the honeydew, just like humans do with cows. Quite an interesting adaptation.
Fungus and seeds
Some ants prefer vegan food, foraging for leaves, grains, corn and seeds. And speaking of growing your own food, some ant species have evolved to be gardeners. The leafcutter ant for example will cut leaves into small pieces and then take these leaves back to their colonies, where they are chewed into a pulp, which is then used to grow fungus that the ants will then eat. Talk about food processing.
Some ants rely on high protein diets. They will take these proteins from a variety of sources, with some species actually going out and hunting their prey. One major source of protein for certain species are termites. Army ants are known to launch mass raids against other colonies for both territory and food. Carpenter ants, which build their colonies inside wood, are known to hunt termites as well. Ants will also go for other insects, dead or alive. In the home, this could mean being attracted to protein rich foods such as peanut butter.
Using ant diets to identify the species in an infestation
If you can see what the ants in your home are drawn to, you can estimate which species they are and which control methods will work best. Keeping an eye out for ants that are going for protein rich foods can alert you to the presence of carpenters for example. However, if you have any doubts about the termite species that you are dealing with, you can get in touch with us and we can perform an inspection, and remove the infestation if needed.