Food For Thought

Iridomyrmex sp QLD 2.jpg

So in part one we talked about the basic ant food groups and some info on feeding queens, make sure to check that out here if you missed it. Today we are going to look at the various food options within each group.

The Sugar Options



·       Widely available

·       Inexpensive

·       Doesn't expire, mould or 'go off'


·       Workers can get stuck in it and die

·       Not accepted by especially fussy ants

·       Often processed and lacks other important vitamins and minerals

Whilst honey can get the job done, I think if you are going to use it you should really be using raw honey. It can be a little more expensive and harder to find but it's thick and ants are able to climb on it without getting stuck. Furthermore it's less processed and as a result is said to contain more vitamins and minerals. I should also mention that in my opinion honey is strictly better than a mix of sugar and water.



·       Natural

·       Widely available


·       Not accepted by all ants

·       Can go mouldy

·       Generally just a bit of a hassle 

While an occasional slice of fruit isn't a bad idea, I've generally found it's really not worth the hassle of cleaning up left over fruit and dealing with minor fungal outbreaks.

Sunburst Ant Nectar


·       Accepted by every single species of ant I've ever tried it with

·       Contains a vast array of essential vitamins and minerals that can be hard to acquire in captivity

·       Easily given to your colony by placing a small amount on a cotton ball, serving tray or preferably by using a Galileo Liquid Feeder


·       Can evaporate if not used in conjunction with a liquid feeder

Hands down the Sunburst Ant Nectar is my number one choice when it comes to a sugar source. If you're on a budget then it might be preferable to use other options but it is definitely worth it and a small amount will last much longer than expected.


The Protein Options

With protein there are so many different options available.  There isn't really a 'best' option for all scenarios. Each ant colony is different and I've found it's good to just try lots of different things and find what they like and try to mix it up a bit. Some ants have been known to start rejecting a protein source if you only provide that single type.

Some of the best live feeder insects include: Roaches (woodies), Mealworms/Superworms, Crickets and Wingless/Flightless fruit flies.

I know some people don't like having to feed their ants actual insects but there are very few effective substitutes. I've heard good things about protein jelly but I've not really given it a proper test to comment on. My opinion however is that while they might be a nice supplementary form of protein, they are not a substitute for live feeder insects.

Other forms of protein that can be used is raw or cooked meats such as chicken. Some ants also eat seeds and nuts, with some species accepting peanut butter. Don't forget to try eggs, raw or cooked also. 

The most important thing about protein is to avoid feeding wild caught insects/animals to your ants. Even if you don't use pesticides around your property you never know what they've been exposed to in their travels. Feeding these "contaminated" insects to your ants can kill them.

Above all else, remember that a varied diet is very important for your ants. 

If you have questions as always leave them in the comments. I hope this information has been helpful and maybe given you some food for thought.


Darcy Lehmann