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Insects and other arthropods

Diet of ants

English
Ants do not attack plants and do not interfere with their growth. On peonies, for example, they are seeking the sweet sap secreted by the buds, for feeding. They also eat nectar and pollen from flowers.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Claude Pilon)

Ants are omnivorous – they eat everything. In nature, they feed on the milk of aphids and other small Hemiptera, insects and small living or dead invertebrates, as well as the sap of plants and various fruits. They also eat insect eggs.

When they come into our homes, ants add to their menu a wide range of sweets, meats, animal foods and fats. They can eat almost anything humans do. They also hunt small insects inside our homes.

In nature, when a new queen founds a colony, she feeds the first larvae her extra eggs, which contain only nutrients. The queen herself must sometimes eat her own eggs to survive until the first workers become adults. Later, if the colony is severely stressed, the queen may resort to cannibalism to ensure her survival.

The workers in charge of food storage have two stomachs. The largest is a “community stomach,” where the ant stores the food it eats in liquid form. When it returns to the nest, it shares this food with the queen, larvae and other workers. In addition to its large stomach, the ant has a crop, or “individual” stomach. When the ant itself needs food, part of the food contained in its community stomach is transferred to the crop and digested. Larvae that will become queens receive more food than the others.

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