Many people believe ants can consume sweet food items without bothering about their nutritional value, but they assess the nutritional profiles of food before consumption. They avoid artificial sweeteners and prefer natural foods.
Are Ants Attracted To Stevia? Ants are attracted to Stevia for its sweet odor but avoid eating it because they only eat natural sugars like glucose and fructose. Stevia has no calories, so it cannot provide energy, and its taste is also slightly bitter, making it less appealing to ants.
Ants choose natural food sources and avoid artificial sweeteners because natural sugars are rich sources of essential nutrients and provide plenty of energy.
Why are ants attracted to Stevia?
It is a natural sweetener obtained from the stevia plant that is many times sweeter than the natural sugar source. It is commonly used as a replacement for sugar due to its sweet taste.
Many people think that ants like to eat Stevia because their taste receptors are highly sensitive toward sweet food items.
Their odor receptors can differentiate different molecules and choose food based on smell and taste. This replacement can do the trick on your taste receptors, but ants can identify the change.
It can allure their odor receptors due to its sweet smell as they quickly reach the spot by relating this odor with food.
Its white color and sweetness can confuse these tiny creatures and bring them close to the powder, but their touch receptors can recognize the difference.
Do ants eat Stevia?
Ants avoid eating Stevia due to a lack of sugar, including monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polyols. Glucose and fructose are simple sugars, while lactose and sucrose are complex types.
They obtain energy from carbohydrates and get attracted to simpler or complex carbohydrates. However, Stevia is made of glycosides found in the plant leaves.
It contains stevioside, which is almost 300 times sweeter than sugar, while rebaudioside is 450 times sweeter. It means both glycosides make it sweet, but stevioside has a bitter aftertaste.
They reject this natural sweetener due to the different chemical compositions of both sugary foods. Its bitter taste makes it less appealing to ants, resulting in no interest in consumption.
Moreover, it has no nutritional value and contains zero calories, providing no energy to insects attracted to sugary foods for instant energy.
These insects have evolved their abilities to detect and forage for highly nutritious food sources that can provide larger energy reserves, like carbohydrates and proteins.
The lack of nutritional elements and its health benefits discourages ants from consuming it. Its taste also differs from natural sugars, as it leaves a bitter taste after consumption.
However, the consumption preferences can vary individually because some species can eat it when no other food source is available and adapt to its taste.
What factors affect ants’ response to Stevia?
Some factors contribute to ants’ response to Stevia, which is generally avoided for consumption due to its bitter aftertaste and lack of nutritional elements.
Contamination of undesirable food sources can make them attractive as it can allure ants’ receptors for secondary food sources.
The residual food odors in the surrounding areas can lead to incidental exposure of ants to Stevia when looking for other food sources.
In addition, it can act as a deterrent for some ant species, while others can adapt to this natural sweetener when they have no other food source.
The diverse dietary habits of ants and good adaptive capabilities can allow some insects to eat it. They have different sensitivity levels towards it, resulting in avoidance or attraction.
Moreover, there is an increased chance of consumption if these insects encounter Stevia for the first time, but they probably avoid it on subsequent encounters based on past experiences.
They have excellent learning abilities as their past experiences decide their future responses to a particular food type. So, they do not consume this natural sweetener after primary exposure.
Furthermore, external factors, including humidity, temperature, and time of year, change their dietary habits, and these insects switch their preferences.
What types of ants are attracted to Stevia?
Some ant species are attracted to Stevia and prefer sugary foods instead of protein-rich and fatty foods. They can detect the sweet odor of powder and reach the food source.
Their choices can vary according to geographical locations, as every species has different foraging behavior. A few outdoor species investigate and explore the new food source inside the home.
They can mistakenly consume this natural sweetener on their first attempt but recognize this bittersweet food source when exposed for a second time.
One of my friends told me about the attack of large black ants inside the stevia box, probably due to the sweet odor of the powder in the container.
However, the indoor species are usually adapted to avoid these sweeteners and ignore stevia powder on the floor as they know about its zero caloric value.
It can probably work on the outdoor ant species that are not usually exposed to this product as they can consume the residues from the ground, but they do not like its bittersweet taste.
Do ants prefer to eat sugar or Stevia?
Ants prefer natural sources of food than manmade products and artificial sweeteners, so they are inherently attracted to natural sugar or carbohydrate-rich food sources.
Both are sweet in taste, but Stevia is often sweeter. However, ants still prefer sugar due to its high nutritional value and energy reserves.
Moreover, I tried to test the receptors of these ants and offered both types of food in equal quantities. Both are white in color, which can confuse ants during food selection.
However, the ants were smart enough to divert their trails towards sugar. They reach Stevia but detect changes in composition and turn their heads in opposite directions.
They choose honey, sugar syrup, and sweet food items prepared from natural sugars and avoid artificial sweeteners with low caloric value.
In the same way, using it in homemade baits is not considered suitable because it cannot allure the taste receptors of insects, leading to ineffective control of the insect population.
How do you keep ants away from Stevia?
You can keep ants away from Stevia using natural deterrents or create boundaries for these tiny creatures to restrict their entries into boxes.
These can reach inside cabinets by detecting the sweet odor of powder when its sachets are open, or the lid of the box is not tightly closed.
They will not eat the powder but pose a risk of contamination to other food materials in the cabinet and kitchen, so it is essential to deter the insects.
Moreover, you can discourage them by keeping its sachets in a closed container with an airtight lid that provides no space for sneaking inside the box.
You can put a few garlic cloves or basil leaves close to the jar to make a repelling force field to help deter insects from a particular area.
In addition, remove stains of food spills, food crumbs, or residues of Stevia from the floor because these are attractive for both indoor and outdoor ant species.
You have to secure the house from these nuisance pests that can cause contamination of food items and infest other areas of the house. Fill the gaps and close the openings to reduce attack risks.