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Are Ants Attracted to Sugar? (Yes. Here’s Why)

Ants are very attracted to sugary food. Sugar granules are very lightweight so they are easy to carry by ants. Furthermore, sugar is extremely calorie-dense making it an efficient food supply for ants.

Ants work almost all day and night and to support this tremendous daily routine they need a steady supply of calories. Therefore, they are always on the lookout for calorie-dense foods like sugar.

are ants attracted to sugar
Image: Ants eating sugar

The steady availability of a high amount of carbohydrates is especially essential for the worker ants who toil hard day in and day out and are involved with a huge number of tedious activities.

In this article we will be covering:

  • The reason behind why ants are strongly attracted to sugary food items
  • An overall look at their diet
  • Their preference towards solid sugary food items, sugary liquid items, and different types of sugar.
  • Lastly, we will take a look at the chances of the sugar-loving ants causing problems in your household

Why Are Ants Attracted to Sugar?

Biologically most organisms are programmed to look for food items that are rich in sugar content. This is because sugary items are densely packed with calories.

From an evolutionary standpoint, an organism should always look for the more densely calorie-packed food item than a low calorie-packed food item as it will mean that they will readily get a heavy dose of calorie into the body with the least effort.

do ants like sugar
Image: Ants in sugar

A greater supply of calories will further help them to function optimally and for a longer period of time.

Ants are probably one of the most hardworking organisms to ever live on the planet. So it comes as no surprise that they are heavily attracted to sugary food sources.

Another best thing about sugar is they are extremely lightweight. Even though ants can lift items 50 times their own weight, lightweight food items that are densely equipped with calories are like a win-win situation for them.

Related Article: Do Ants Have Brains?

Are Ants only Attracted to Sugary Foods?

Ants are attracted to a wide range of food items ranging from sugary food items to fruits, vegetables, snacks, and dead organisms.

The only reason we see ants attracted more towards sugar is that the chances of sugar granules lying around the kitchen floor are much higher than other food items (owing to their minute size).

Ants are omnivores in nature just like us humans. This means they are both herbivores and carnivores in nature. So they feed upon a wide range of food items ranging from plant-based substances to animal meat. Omnivores need to obtain different kinds of food sources to be healthy.

sugar

Ants prefer honey and sugar equally as both are heavily packed with calories.

There is a huge misconception that pure honey doesn’t attract ants which is not right. In general, less sticky and more diluted honey samples attract ants more readily. This is because diluted honey has got a greater water content in it which via evaporation releases a scent that ends up attracting the ants.

However in general it has been seen that ants are more attracted towards liquid sugary food items than to solid sugar itself.

One probable reason for this is that liquid food sources are much easier to consume than solid ones. Hence diluted honey kept in a moisture-rich environment or a drop of sugary water on the table can attract hundreds of ants within a few minutes.

However that by no means suggests that they won’t be attracted towards granular sugar pieces, it just means that the probability of them getting attracted towards sugary liquid sources is a little bit more than to granulated sugar itself.

Related Article: Are Ants Attracted to Salt?

Do Ants like White Sugar or Brown Sugar?

Ants like all kinds of sugary food items needless of whether it is white sugar or brown sugar. As long as the food item is rich in sugar, that will be good enough for them.

There is not much difference between brown and white sugar because they are obtained in most cases from the same source, the sugar canes or the sugar beets.

White sugar is further processed to get rid of the molasses which is responsible for giving the brown sugar its characteristic dark color. But brown sugar as it contains molasses is more moisture-rich. Hence it is quite softer, and slightly more nutritionally richer than white sugar.

brown sugar
Image: Brown Sugar

However, it has been found that ants prefer a liquid source of sugar or at least sugar item with a little bit of moisture than sugar samples that are completely solid and devoid of any watery content. Even though they can break down solid food items, they prefer liquid food sources as it is easy to digest them.

So theoretically they can have a little more preference towards brown sugar but in hindsight, it is unlikely to see any major difference in their preference between brown and white sugar. Also, it depends hugely on the species type as well.

Can Sugar Ants Damage your House?

Sugar ants are generally considered harmless as unlike carpenter ants they won’t damage wooden structures around the house. Normally sugar ants don’t sting like fire ant does so that’s also a big relief. However, they can be a nuisance, and having ants in the house is never good news. It is a carrier of various kinds of microbes that can contaminate your food and drinks.

As their name suggests, they will mostly be attracted towards your kitchen storage and towards sugary food options around the house. Make sure you don’t leave food out in the open for long and properly clean everything up after every meal and cooking session. Get rid of the trash regularly and keep it sealed when kept indoors.

Conclusion

Ants love sugar. This is because sugar is jam-packed with calories which provides them with a high boost of energy that further allows them to function all day and night at an optimal level.

So finding sugary food items allows them to obtain a greater dose of calories with the least effort. In certain instances, it has been found that they prefer liquid sugary items slightly more than solid sugary samples as they are far more easily digestible. Also sugar ants in general don’t cause that much havoc in the house as other varieties of ants and they are not known to sting.

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