Ants are attracted towards both salty and sweeter food items as they need both of these components to function properly. If the ant colony is salt starved and lives in a place where salt is scarce, then they may become more attracted towards salty food items than sweeter ones.
Salt is a very important material that is required for the optimal functioning of not only us humans but of the majority of other animals including ants.
Let’s take a deeper dive into this topic.
Do Ants like Salt?
Ants like both sugar and salt as a part of their diet as both of these food sources play an important role in their bodily functions.
Whether an ant colony will have a greater preference for sugar or salt depends a lot on the availability of these food sources in their habitat region.
For example, an ant colony living closer to the sea will have easy access to salt in their diet and hence will be more attracted towards sweeter food items.
The salty food items don’t need to be a direct snack item, ants can intake appropriate levels of salt via feeding on blood, sweat, or even human tears.
Are Ants Attracted to Sodium?
Ants are attracted to sodium food items because salt is a vital component required by the majority of the organisms for their survival.
Sodium which is present in the salt helps in the optimal functioning of the cell membranes. Hence salt is a regular part of their diet and they indeed get attracted towards salty food.
However, the degree to which they will get attracted towards a salty food item in comparison with a sweeter food item depends entirely on the availability of salt in their local environment.
If in the first place, they have easy access to salt in their diet, they will prefer having sweeter food options than salty ones. Ants living in areas way far from the sea or in hilly areas can face salt deficiencies owing to the absence of salt in the soil.
In most places where the salt availability in nature is balanced, you won’t notice any significant affinity of the ants for the salts over sweeter food items because the salt is already available to them in abundance naturally.
But in places like the mountains or high plains, there can be a scarcity of sodium in the environment. A frequent number of floods or periodic snowing can end up leaching the soil of that region.
Even the plants that grow in these areas can have a low sodium content so feeding upon them in limited amounts won’t provide the ants with the required levels of salt. They are more likely to face salt deficiencies in their diets in these regions and hence can get attracted towards salty foods more than sweeter food items.
Situations where Ants won’t eat Salt
In the case of ants, choosing sugar over salt or vice versa is not dependent upon the taste factor but on the requirement factor.
Put simply, they will opt for food items that are rich in a particular ingredient which they are in dire need of and which is oftentimes not easily available in their habitat.
Sugar just like salt is an essential part of their diet as sugar helps in providing them with loads of calories instantly. This further helps them to function tirelessly without the need for any break, day in and day out.
So in case, the ants are getting attracted more towards sugar than salt, it just means they currently are in more need of sugar supply than salt. However, this by no means signifies that it will be always this way and they won’t ever choose salt over sugar.
Importance of Salt in the Ant Diet
For the proper functioning of the cell membranes, a regular intake of salt is a must.
Along with that, salt also helps in muscle movement. Hence it is extremely understandable why ants like many other living organisms are attracted to salty food sources.
Even in humans salts play a vital role in our survival and the optimal functioning of our body. However, we also tend to use table salt for seasoning and for enhancing the flavor. But for ants and other animals, it is just a necessity for optimal health.
Ants need optimum levels of salt to function properly which will further aid in their growth and will help them to be more immune to other diseases.
Do Ants like Epsom Salt?
The majority of the ant species won’t be much affected owing to the use of Epsom salt which chemically is made of magnesium chloride and is also known as bath salt in the market.
It can work to some degree against black ants but in most cases, won’t be effective against other varieties.
Epsom salts are believed to irritate and cause dehydration issues in insects. However, the majority of the people who use Epsom salts to keep ants at bay get mixed results. This is true for even some of the researches that were being carried out.
You can of course give Epsom salt a try but you are likely to get better results with boric acids or borax than Epsom salts to keep ants away from your place.
Is it Healthy for Ants?
Ants like all animals have got salt requirements for their survival. However, there is a threshold for every need. Anything more than that can cause severe damages to the body. The same thing happens when they are suddenly exposed to large amounts of salt. Excess salt causes dehydration and nullifies the water content inside the ant body.
However, unlike other insects like snails, slugs, etc. ants are a little bit resistant to higher salt amounts owing to their hard and strong exoskeleton.
Salts are undoubtedly one of the most prominent aspects of an ant diet and at times they can be more difficult to acquire than other protein or carbohydrate food sources.
Ants that have a scarcity of a particular kind of food source in their diet will be more attracted to that food source to deal with the scarcity. Also, some particular environments have lower salt availability than others owing to their enormous distance from the sea or for receiving heavy snowfall and floods.
So ants and other insects belonging to such places are more likely to get attracted to salt food reservoirs more easily than ants residing near the sea.