Ants get allured by the sweet taste and smell of food. They can eat almost anything, including the seeds.
Which Seeds Do Ants Eat? Ants eat various seeds, including flax, grass, sesame, sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds, that can add high content of oil, fats, proteins, and healthy calories to their diet. However, they avoid basil, thyme, and mint seeds due to their repelling odor. Black garden and harvester ants prefer seeds over other sources of food.
Ants reach plants for food or get attracted to their pleasing odors, but sometimes they need seeds. However, they are not fond of all its types and choose only a few to eat.
What type of seeds do ants prefer to eat?
Ants usually prefer to eat seeds of flowering plants because they have high nutritional value. They provide a good quantity of fats and fibers in addition to proteins.
The fats can be stored for a long due to slower digestion and help create a layer of insulation in their bodies. In addition, proteins can help build body muscles and strengthen them.
In addition, they get attracted to flax seeds that can provide a good content of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia and pumpkin seeds are also packed with healthy calories and fats.
One tablespoon of chia seeds can provide 4 to 5g of fiber, 60 to 70 calories, and 2 to 3g of proteins. They can also get 3 to 4g of fats and 5 to 7g of carbohydrates in the same quantity.
Similarly, dried seeds of pumpkin can give 15g of fat, 2g of fiber, 8 to 9g of proteins, and a lot of calories that are around 150 to 180 in one-fourth cup serving.
These cannot fulfill their requirements of sugar, but it does not matter because there are a lot of other sugar-based foods in their diet, and these can add good fats.
Furthermore, sesame, grass, and sunflower seeds are good sources of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese and improve muscle movement and signal transmission.
Some other minerals and vitamins are also present and make them strong enough to fight off predators and diseases.
However, they avoid mint, basil, rosemary, and thyme plant seeds due to repelling odor usually grown to get rid of these insects.
Which part of the seeds do ants eat?
Ants carry seeds to their nests whenever they find them on the grass close to the plants. However, they do not consume the whole piece and break it into two parts.
Some myrmecochorous plants have seeds with elaiosomes that are nutrient-rich structures and appear reddish or orange. Therefore, it can attract these insects due to its high nutritional value.
These insects will remove the protein and oil-rich appendage part for consumption because they are not interested in hard covering.
The remaining portion is of no use to them that gets discarded. These discarded portions do not lose their viability after removal of the elaiosome and begin to germinate or grow into a plant.
This way, these insects are involved in their dispersal and help plants to spread in different regions as they allow new little plants to grow.
What type of ants like to eat seeds?
Every species of ants has different dietary requirements, as a few are carnivorous that prefer to feed on dead insects and animals.
These predatory insects are also good scavengers, decomposers, and efficient cleaners as they wipe out dead bodies from the floor.
However, you can also find some omnivorous species that keep changing their eating habits depending on external conditions. They can eat both plant and animal-based food.
Some ants are herbivores and are seen around plant roots and leaves, searching for sweet fruit juice and stem sap. Seed-harvesting species also exist that attack fresh seeds in the soil.
The carpenter, pharaoh, and argentine ant species are included in a few dozen of species that prefer to eat sweet secretions instead of elaiosomes.
However, harvester and black garden ants like to get nutrition from a variety of seeds, and the former ones are named according to their eating habits.
Furthermore, these insects form a trunk trail to reach far areas searching for food sources to eat or store food.
Do ants eat seedlings?
Seeds and seedlings hold a prominent difference as the former ones begin to grow in the soil, while the latter is planted in the soil as a young plant after sprouting.
However, ants are equally attracted to both as they are garden pests and attack growing plants. It does not matter to these tiny insects whether the plant is healthy or weak or even close to death.
The leafcutter ants are known to cut pieces of leaves using jaws to build a platform for fungal growth. The growing leaves can attract them to cut and carry leaf chunks.
They usually attack plants to suck the sap or cultivate pests like aphids to get honeydew. Moreover, they typically reside in the growing region of the plant and suck nutrients.
Additionally, some of their species build a mutual relationship with plants, protecting them from external damage or predator attacks to get food.
Do ants store seeds in the nest?
A few ants prefer to store seeds in addition to extracting elaiosome from the hard outer covering and throwing them out of their nests.
They search for reliable sources of food in the summer and autumn seasons to replenish food storage compartments in their nests. These can be stored for a long time and are transferred to chambers.
These stored items help them survive in winter when they cannot reach the ground from their nest in search of food. In addition, winters are not suitable for foraging activities, so they rely on stored food.
Furthermore, they can help nourish the brood when they are in growing stages and need a good quantity of protein and fats to build their bodies.
So, you can consider this storing behavior as a strategy to prepare themselves for the bad time of the year when they need to hide inside nests.
How to keep ants away from plant seeds?
It is essential to keep ants away from flowering plants as they reach plants in search of seeds and cause damage to the roots and leaves.
You can deviate them from this food source by placing a sugar syrup away from plants, resulting in the movement of insects in opposite directions.
Moreover, spray repelling solutions like vinegar or make boundaries with repelling powders from cinnamon or cayenne pepper to keep them at a distance.
A boundary of diatomaceous earth powder around the periphery of plants can not only keep them away but also kill a large number of organisms in their population.
In addition, you can take advantage of their fears as they are also afraid of baby powder that can be used to expel them from your garden.
Furthermore, you can also grow plants like basil or thyme to deter these insects, as their repelling odors will keep them away from the flowering plants.