Feeding Your Ants

Ants are a remarkably diverse group when it comes to feeding. Here are a few tips on how to keep your ants happily fed. This doesn’t apply if you are using one of the new gel type ant farms, such as the Antworks Space Age Ant Farm.  However, if you are using a traditional type such as the Giant Ant Farm then these tips should be helpful.

Some ant species live on plant food, seeds for example. They also eat flower pollen, which has a high protein content. You may know that leafcutter ants cut off small pieces of leaf from a bush and carry them back to the nest. The leaves are not for eating. They are used as fertiliser for a fungus that they grow on the decaying leaf matter. This is one of the very few examples of actual farming for food in the animal kingdom. But it is as predators that ants really come into their own and the activities of soldier ants are legendary!

Cricket for lunch!

Ants love sugar!
Ants getting their vitamin C!If you have ever dropped a slice of orange on a path when ants are about and left it undisturbed for a while, you will have noticed that after an hour or two there will be a collection of worker ants around it, all drinking the sweet sugary juice. Ants love sugar, it provides the energy they need in a concentrated form. Left undisturbed, they’ll eventually take the entire contents of this orange back to the nest. But sugar in this form is not always available in nature. There are thousands of species of ants and they each have their own particular feeding preference. Some highly aggressive carnivorous ant species have the ability to overcome virtually any animal providing they are present in sufficient numbers. They will often immobilise the animal by attacking the eyes and mouthparts and then, when it can no longer defend itself, begin to consume the prey, often from the inside, so they do not need to bite through the tough skin. Insect larvae and caterpillars are common food items because their soft skins make them easy to attack.

Other ant species are vegetarians. The type of ant normally supplied for the ant farms we recommend are Harvester ants, and, as their name suggests, they eat grain and seeds in the wild. In your ant farm, they will eat seeds too but you may not always have them available. Some suppliers will send you a food parcel, containing seeds of the right size for the ants to handle. Alternatively you can try a few crumbs of biscuit. In fact, because biscuit usually contains sugar and fat, they will survive very well on it.

Your ants will need water though, and a few drops on a pea-sized piece of sponge is the easiest way to supply it. You could also try a Soldier Antsolution of honey or syrup in water, but dont make it too sticky or unwary ants could become trapped. With both food and water, its important not to supply too much. Decaying food is the last thing you want in a closed environment like an ant farm. Having said that, ants are remarkably clean animals and they will keep their tunnels and chambers clean by removing waste to a disposal area. This in itself is fascinating to watch.

If you’d rather not get involved with feed ing your ants, you need to check out the Gel Ant Farms we show on this page.