There are around 12,000 different species of ants; some people say that there are actually 14,000 different species. Ants are present all around the world, except for Antarctica, simply because it is too cold there. So, what food attracts these ants to our kitchens and picnic baskets? And how can you prevent their infestation and keep them at bay? The following paragraphs provide the answer.
You may be having queries like what do red ants eat, what do black ants eat, do leaf-cutter ant cut leaves and then eat these leaves, and so on. You should know that different species of ants eat different kinds of foods. However, the most favorite food item that most ants eat and like is anything 'sweet'. Here are the food sources which provide ants with their nourishment.
Most types of ants are attracted to anything that is sweet, so even if there is a drop of honey or a little jam on the floor, ants will get attracted towards it. They love sweet things so much that they experience an almost magnetic pull towards jam in the sandwich, honey, sugar, lemonade, etc. When the ants don't get any sweets, which we leave around, they will go out looking for a sweet substance called honeydew, which other insects leave behind. Honeydew is secreted by aphids (plant sucking insects) as these bugs ingest the juice of plants. There are species of ants which even 'farm' these aphids; they will carry the aphids back to their colonies and look after them to obtain the honeydew.
The species called leaf-cutter ants are found in the tropical and semi-tropical regions, and can also be found in the South and Central regions of America. As the name suggests, the leaf-cutter ants cut leaves, but they don't eat these leaves, they carry them back to their underground nests, chew the leaves to a pulp, and store it with the ant feces. Fungus grows on the decaying plant matter, and this is what they eat.
Some species of ants eat the dead bodies of insects which are much larger than their own bodies, especially bugs like caterpillars and grasshoppers. Harvester ants are known to collect seeds, store them, and then eat them. Argentine ants which are natives of Argentina, Brazil, and are found sometimes in the US, eat eggs, oil, meat, and almost anything which humans leave around. Ants are the number one enemies of termites, and in fact a species of the family, carpenter ants, eat termites.
Ant Infestation Prevention Tips
If you are looking for solutions to figure out how to prevent ants from attacking your food or creating mess in the kitchen, then try these ideas.
- One of the natural remedies that can work against ants is cloves. Just put some whole cloves in sugar jars, under counters, along baseboards, and you will have less sugar-seeking ants in your house.
- Another spicy natural remedy is to keep bay leaves in your home to control the attack of the ants. You can keep them on countertops, or any place where the food which attracts ants is present. You can also carry these two spices in your picnic baskets to keep them away.
- For pest control and to minimize the number of ants, keep your kitchen sink clean and dry, and wipe the countertops with bleach every night.
- Vacuuming the floor spaces regularly, especially those places where the food gets stuck, will also minimize their numbers.
- Dispose off the garbage bags regularly to prevent ants.
It is not advisable to use powerful chemical pesticides in the kitchen to get rid of the ants, as there is a possibility that the pesticides might contaminate the food.
Now that you know what ants eat and how to avoid the attack by ants on your food using some natural methods, controlling them will become easier for you. So use the above prevention tips to minimize ant attacks, and maintain an ant-free house.