Many people want to know the level of attraction for oatmeal among ants to decide about its storage conditions.
Are Ants Attracted To Oatmeal? Ants are not attracted to oatmeal because they do not like dry solid food, lacking moisture and nutritional value. Moreover, it has a non-enticing odor, large size particles, and causes digestion problems. They can eat cooked oatmeal containing sugar, honey, or fruits.
There is a common misconception among people about oatmeal that it is responsible for killing fire ants by exploding their stomachs due to indigestion.
Why are ants not attracted to oatmeal?
Ants do not find oatmeal appealing because they are only attracted to foods with pleasant odors and sweet tastes. However, some other reasons, like low nutrition, also account for this rejection.
Avoid solid food
Solid food particles require more effort in chewing and breaking the chunks into smaller parts, which consumes time and effort.
So, they avoid eating solid food and prefer liquid food if they have both options.
Their bodies have simpler structures, lacking a large number of teeth in the mouth that can aid in chewing food particles.
Low sugar and protein content
It contains a lower sugar content, making it less appealing for ants as they usually choose energy-rich foods that can keep them active for a long.
Only 0.4 to 0.5g of sugar is present in 100g of oatmeal, which means it cannot provide enough energy. The foragers or workers remain busy with nest activities all day, so they need energy.
In addition, almost 2.2g of proteins are present in its 100g, which is a good content. However, it is not sufficient for a growing colony, requiring a large amount of protein.
These foragers reject foods with low nutritional value, and it is rich in fiber but contains lower content of proteins and sugars that are desirable for insects.
Lack of moisture
Dry oatmeal powder lacks sufficient moisture required for the hydration of tiny ants because they eat moist food or liquid juices instead or dry powders.
Their bodies cannot digest dry foods because most of their diet contains liquid juices. Their stomach is adapted to digest the fluids or foods containing high water content.
However, it is dry because it is prepared by grinding the oats into fine particles. So, it is not appealing to them when it is not cooked due to lack of moisture.
I never found ants crawling inside the package of oatmeal because I used to keep the box in a dry place to reduce the chances of attack. Around 12% moisture in the air is good for their storage.
Its odor is not enticing for ants’ receptors because they like to eat food with pleasant aromas. They do not find it attractive due to its unappealing scent.
It has a nutty aroma due to its high fiber content, but sometimes, a mild sweet odor is also detectable when the oats are freshly ground into small particles.
However, it has fantastic absorbing potential and absorbs scents of foods and fruits if present close to them. So, ants are less likely to attack a container of oatmeal.
Less competitive food source
It is not considered a competitive food source for ants because these tiny insects usually consume nectar and honeydew that are easier to ingest and digest.
Moreover, these sweet secretions are packed with energy-rich substances that can keep them active and energetic for a long.
Furthermore, they have plenty of other food options, like plant sap, dead insects, leaves, fruits, crumbs, and waste material in trash bins.
Large size of the particles
It is produced after grinding oats, but the particles are still bigger than their mouth. They avoid eating bigger particles that can get stuck in their mouth or gut.
In addition, the fine oats are almost 560 micrometers or 0.022 inches, which are quite large for their tiny mouth. It is challenging for ants to ingest particles bigger than 2 microns.
Accordingly, they reject large oatmeal particles and look for smaller food crumbs on the floor; otherwise, they prefer liquid foods that can easily pass through the gut.
Consumption of dry and large particles of oats can create problems in digestion, as their digestive system is relatively simpler.
They cannot digest solid particles efficiently, but it does not mean they avoid eating solid food. They choose larger solid particles if they contain high moisture content.
It is easier to break chunks of juicy fruits than other hard, dry foods because they suck liquid juices by injecting mandibles into them.
So, they can consume oatmeal in primary exposure but avoid its consumption for the second time because their stomach gets disturbed after eating it.
Do ants eat cooked oatmeal?
Ants avoid dry oatmeal due to its large particle size, which is not easy to carry back to nests and ingest through small mouths, but they can eat it in the cooked form.
Most commonly, cooked food contains high water content that softens the particles and makes it easy to digest inside their simpler stomach.
In addition, some people add sugar or honey to improve their taste, which can potentially grab the attention of nearby insects looking for food.
I usually add seasonal fruits like strawberries to flavor the tasteless meals, and I find black ants crawling around my bowl when I keep an empty bowl in the kitchen sink without washing it.
Their strong receptors can detect the presence of sweet food and reach there in search of food. In addition, it also becomes attractive for insects after absorbing moisture from the environment.
How do you get rid of ants in oatmeal?
Knowing the reasons for ant infestation is better before looking for methods to remove or keep them away from oatmeal. They avoid it due to dryness, but moist food can attract them.
The presence of moisture in it can attract ants, so you have to keep the containers appropriately sealed.
Moreover, you can prevent infestations by discouraging them, which is only possible when you make your place unappealing for ants.
The presence of debris and dirt in cabinets and filled trash bins in the kitchen can divert their attention from other areas of the house to the kitchen, resulting in the risk of infestation.
Furthermore, baits prepared by mixing powdered sugar and boric acid powder can get rid of these insects.
This bait targets their entire colony and leads to the death of queens, larvae, and foragers because it acts slowly until the foragers transfer food to the colony.