What do ants eat in nature?

Ants do not recognize loneliness and live in colonies. Their dwelling, as a rule, is an underground nest with many chambers connected by passages. Above the underground dwelling, these hard workers erect a castle (ant bunch), where they raise their offspring.

A rotten tree and a stump, which insects quickly equip for a convenient and comfortable settlement, can become a good home for ants.

Ant colony members

The inhabitants of the anthill are divided into 4 groups:

  1. Females (uterus) - the founders of any ant house, their function is to lay eggs. There is only one female queen in the colony, which the ants carefully protect, feed and cherish.
  2. Males. They die some time after mating (their main function).
  3. Worker ants (foragers). Their duties include taking care of all individuals of the family, delivering food and protecting the anthill from the encroachments of enemies.
  4. Larvae. Future offspring. The larvae are divided into 2 types: those capable of feeding on their own and those in need of feeding. The latter species predominates; adult ants feed such larvae with semi-digested food from their own esophagus.

All this large family needs huge amounts of food. What do ants eat?

Oral apparatus

The mouth apparatus of these insects "Gnawing". The mouth contains:

  • upper lip (labrum);
  • ruining the bottom (labium);
  • mandibles (jaw).

Depending on the type of upper jaw (mandibles) and lower (maxilla) can be: large and small, blunt and very sharp, serrated and simply smooth, closing and overlapping. The mandibles have the ability to work independently even with the mouth closed.

Underlip has a tongue, which is an organ of taste, and also used by ants to cleanse their bodies.


Ants - omnivorous insects. Their diet depends on the species and habitat.

In the warm season, the food supply is carried out by worker ants every day. In the cold, everything happens differently: many species of the ant family do not hibernate, and therefore in the fall they clog their dwellings with food to capacity, this allows them to calmly survive the cold season.

REFERENCE! Ants love to drag absolutely everything that comes their way into their house. And only then the food is distributed among the inhabitants of the anthill. To everyone's taste.

The distribution is as follows:

  • larvae. They feed on protein foods: the remains of small insects, eggs of various pests. If we are talking about domestic (pharaoh) ants, then the larvae often get food from the table of the owners of the house (meat, eggs, cottage cheese, cheese), sometimes domestic cockroaches-Prusaks, which are also eaten with pleasure by the younger generation, become ants' prey;
  • working ants. To maintain strength, they need carbohydrate foods that are nutritious, energy-rich, and highly digestible. These are: pulp of fruits and berries, seeds, nuts, roots and plant juices. Having settled in houses, they eat sugar and honey with pleasure. The favorite delicacy of ants is honeydew (plant sap they release during sudden temperature changes) and honeydew (sugar milk of aphids);
  • uterus. The basis of her diet is protein. In many species, food intended for the uterus is chewed by worker ants and delivered to their queen in a form convenient for consumption.

REFERENCE! In red forest ants, honeydew and dew make up almost 60% of the total diet.

They anxiously guard aphids (milk cow), breed it on young shoots of trees, and take it with them to anthills for the winter.

Feed on ants often, several times a day.

Food of ants depending on their species

There are types of gourmet ants that prefer 1-2 permanent foods to a varied diet:

  • leaf cutter ant... Insects of this species collect tree leaves in their dwelling, carefully chew them into porridge and put them in special chambers. In a warm leaf mass, mushrooms develop rapidly, which leaf cutters feed on. The laminae themselves are too rough for their delicate stomachs to eat;
  • the center of the firm. They feed exclusively on termites;
  • dracula. These ants suck the juice of their own larvae, and the latter do not suffer much from this. Adult insects are engaged in catching large insects: spiders, centipedes, but they do not eat them themselves, but feed the younger generation;
  • reaper ants. They feed on seeds of dried plants. This food is not very digestible, so insects grind it with their strong jaws into gruel;
  • carpenter ants... The source of carbohydrate for this species is tree resin, which is released in places of bark damage;
  • ponerins... This is a whole subfamily. Each of the species of which feeds on a specific pest insect. They are rightfully called the orderlies of the forest.

Ants are unique creatures. Tireless hard workers they bring considerable benefit to forests, loosening the soil and destroying parasitic insects. True, ants often give people a lot of serious problems, eating seedlings, leaves and ripe root crops in summer cottages or food supplies in houses.

A photo

In this video, you will learn more about insect nutrition:

Useful materials

Further, you can get acquainted with articles that may be useful and interesting to you:

  • Ant extermination:
    1. How to get rid of red ants in an apartment?
    2. Boric acid and borax from ants
    3. Folk remedies for ants in an apartment and house
    4. Rating of effective remedies for ants in the apartment
    5. Ant traps
  • Ants in the garden:
    1. Ant species
    2. How do ants winter?
    3. Who are the ants?
    4. The value of ants in nature
    5. Ant hierarchy: the ant king and structural features of the worker ant
    6. How do ants breed?
    7. Ants with wings
    8. Forest and garden ants, as well as the reaper ant
    9. How to get rid of ants in the garden?

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