Ant Food



Ants are a force of nature. Collectively, ants actually consume more meat on a daily basis than lions, tigers and wolves combined. Sound’s unbelievable, right? Ants live in colonies and in large number. They hunt food together and their team work is surely commendable. Talk about pack hunting!

Now, when the question arises about how much ants actually eat, it is difficult to answer since there are many facets. The quantity of food consumption of ants depends a lot on the strength of their colony, as in the number of ants living there as well as the count of total larvae in the colony. You will be surprised to know that more than the adult ants; the larvae’s require constant feeding and thus consume more. Who would believe that these tiny little creatures and their larvae are such hungry things?  They are great at food storing. How they eat and how much food they take back to the colony for storage are two different things again.

Firstly, what is it that an ant or a battalion of ants actually eat?

On a worldwide count, the total number of ant species is about 12,000. It is not that all these classified species eat the same food and have the same diet. Thus, there cannot really be an all in one answer to what they actually eat. Ant can mostly eat everything that is edible to a human and even beyond that. If not near the city areas, they mostly thrive on vegetables, seeds, fruits, fellow insects, wheat, meat, fungus, dairy etc. For ants, sugar is like a drug. They are addicted and get drawn towards anything sweet more than anything else.

What is the harvest and consumption like for an ant colony?

The amounts of food consumption as well the harvest of ants vary largely. They are majorly dependent on two variables, the species and the type of colony they belong to. The larger the colony, the more will be the harvest as well as the food intake. However, the diet varies a great deal depending on the classified species of ants.

Let’s discuss on different species and their total intake.

HARVEST ANT COLONY

This Ant type is one among the most common ones. Now, there can always be large sized or average sized colony depending on the total number of ants residing in it. Generally, an average colony of ants consists of around 4,000 of them. Just give it a rough guess, how much can 4,000 ants eat on a per day basis? The per day food consumption of this number of ants is round about 8 grams. Doesn't seem like much, does it? Hold on: that doesn't include the up to 6.5 lbs of total materials harvested for all their needs.

 TEMNOTHORAX & LEAF CUTTER ANT

If compared, it is seen that these two species of ants are major. 50 ants are the total constituent in the colony of the Temnothorax species, which is way less than that of the Leaf Cutter ants. On the other hand, more than a million accounts for the total of the leaf cutter species. The Temnothorax harvest over 37 grams of material and food and eat only 1 gm each day.

How much does a single Ant consume on a daily basis?

Much like the differentiation of diet according to species, the food consumption and harvest of a single Ant is dependent on the species. However, on an average basis, an ant consumes a maximum of 35% of their own body weight i.e. 1 to 2 milligrams per day. That goes for consumption. How much do they harvest? What they harvest and how much they eat has no parity. The total collection trips of an average Ant on a single day are around 30 trips and every time the weight that they carry varies to 5 to 50 times of their own. Thus, going by these facts, an average ant’s daily harvest being around 1 gm is nothing unreasonable.