Ants consume fruits like watermelons to get natural sources of sugars and suck juices to obtain essential nutrients. Accordingly, you can see them infesting fruit trees and living within the trunk or its base.
Do Ants Eat Watermelon? Ants eat watermelon, particularly the juice extract, because this fruit provides natural sugars and other essential nutrients, like calcium, copper, potassium, and vitamins, including vitamins C, B, and A. Moreover, they also store watermelon seeds in nests for winter and help aphids on plants for growth that can cause significant damage.
You have to follow integrated pest management practices to avoid the infestation of ants on watermelon plants, as they can reach plants for food or shelter.
Monitor the plant regularly and look for a possible solution to get rid of insects quickly if you see only a few insects, as they indicate the presence of a colony at nearby locations.
Why do ants eat watermelon?
Ants are attracted to nutritious foods to get nutrients, which can provide energy to perform functions. Accordingly, they can attack slices of watermelon on the countertop to eat it.
One of the primary purposes of eating watermelon is that it contains a large amount of water and fiber. Almost 85% to 90% water is present in the fruit, which varies in other varieties.
Moreover, it contains a small amount of protein, sodium, dietary fiber, and sugar. Almost 100mg of sodium and 5 to 6g of sugars are present in 100g of watermelon.
It is also a good source of vitamins C, D, and B6, which can help grow larvae and keep adults healthy.
In addition, watermelons can also provide some minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and iron, in smaller quantities. Primarily, it can help keep insects hydrated due to high water content.
Accordingly, you can see these insects drawing towards a bowl containing chunks of watermelon as these tiny creatures can quickly suck juice for the soft pulp of the fruit.
They can also carry smaller pieces of fruits back to their nests for later use, but they cannot be kept for long as water evaporates quickly at high temperatures.
The sweetness of the fruit is a powerful attractant because these ants have a special inclination towards sweet food items. It provides instant energy to carry out nest activities.
Furthermore, they can also choose watermelon as a food source if it is easily accessible to these opportunistic creatures, so you have to keep it covered to avoid their undesired attacks.
How do ants eat watermelon?
Ants have a strong sense of smell and detect the sweet aroma of watermelon from a distance. Foragers reach the food source and detect its safety for eating by vision and touch.
It uses compound eyes to see the color of food and touches its antennae to food to know its nature and detect odor before making a final choice for eating.
Additionally, this foraging insect releases a pheromone trail after finding it suitable for eating. This way, a large group of foragers recruit at the destination and begin to enjoy the feast.
They have sharp mandibles to chew the hard outer covering and get access to the inner fruity pulp, but they have to make a little bit of effort to break the hard rind.
They bite the interior flesh of the fruit and consume it into chunks that can easily pass through their small mouth and guts. They store a part of it in their crops to feed inactive colony members.
Moreover, they feed together and transport the chunks collectively as they have the potential to lift a watermelon on their tiny bodies.
Do ants eat watermelon seeds?
Ants usually consume seeds, particularly elaiosomes, which are considered a nutrient-rich portion of the seed, and throw the remaining part on the ground.
Accordingly, they attack fresh watermelon fruit for its juice extract or internal juicy pulp, but the seeds can stick to their bodies when they are busy eating it.
However, some of these insects intentionally pick the seeds and take them back to their nests for use in winter when they cannot find fresh fruits and vegetables due to the cold environment.
These seeds are known to regulate the metabolism of living organisms because they have a high content of folate, magnesium, potassium, copper, and vitamin B.
These tiny insects can obtain omega-3 and omega-6 from watermelon seeds in addition to a large amount of protein. So, they do not leave nutritious seeds on the ground after eating their pulp.
Moreover, ants play a role in the dispersal of seeds and contribute to the growth of new watermelon plants in areas close to their nests as they throw seed remains out of their nests.
Are ants bad for watermelon plants?
Ants can be beneficial or harmful for the watermelon plants depending on the season, as they can cause harm during summer when the plants have fruits on them.
These juicy fruits can grab the attention of the nearby insects looking for food and water sources, as they can provide a complete and nutritious diet.
Accordingly, the infestation of ants is not good for the fruits because they can create holes in the rind to make their way inside an internal pulp.
In addition, some of these insects take care of aphids by protecting them from predator attacks that can grow in an uncontrollable manner.
An increased population of aphids is not beneficial for plants because they suck sap from plants, making them devoid of essential nutrients required for their growth.
In addition, the honeydew secretions on the plant surface can provide a suitable platform for harmful bacteria and mold looking for moist places.
Fire ants can also make nests within soil close to the plant’s roots and disturb the root system. They make deep tunnels in the soil and affect the stability of the plant by disturbing roots.
Furthermore, they can affect seedling growth by continuously digging deep into the ground to make tunnels, so the seedlings cannot develop into healthy plants.
So, you have to protect the plant from ant invasions as they can damage fruits, disturb roots, and affect the plant’s health.
What type of ants are attracted to watermelon?
Most ant species seem interested in the consumption of sweet food items, except some carnivorous species because these opportunistic feeders are omnivorous insects.
You can find tiny pharaoh ants and other common indoor species crawling on the slices of watermelon kept uncovered on the countertop.
In addition, odorous houses and argentine ants can also reach there in a short time because their receptors are sensitive to sweet-smelling food particles.
Pavement ants can also come indoors from outdoor nests when they find pieces of watermelon in the kitchen trash bin or juice spills on the floor.
The juice extract can attract carpenter ants because these tiny creatures prefer liquid food than solid particles.
However, some outdoor species, like acrobat and field ants, can reach watermelon plants for their fruit, while a few help aphids grow on the plant and cause indirect damage to it.
So, indoor and outdoor ants can get attracted to watermelon fruit and its plant for its juicy pulp and aphids living on the stems and leaves to get honeydew.