This idea was inspired by a friend, he has always like to give ants a crumbled biscuit or a gummy sweet. Now it is something I do myself.
In the last few months I have been watching the ants on my doorstep. I have given them a few crumbs and sweets, but nothing has taken their fancy. In the last few days the ants have been very busy opening out the soil at the entrance area of the nest. They are clearly getting ready for ‘flying ant day’! I have even seen the winged ants at the opening of the nest. But it has not been easy for them, in the evening of the last two days there have been huge thunderstorms. The accompanying rain has destroyed the ants hard work, so I want to give them a little treat but I don’t know what they like. So today I decided to try and find out what type of food these ants might favour.
I picked out 8 foods that I already had in my kitchen, 3 savoury items and 5 sweet: Ham and Beef meat paste, cream cheese, a crumbled monster munch, honey, bramble jelly, apricot jam, marmalade and a piece of pear. I put a sample of each along a piece of card complete with label. I wanted to make sure I could see which food the ants visited and clean it all up afterwards.
No sooner did I put the samples down, the ants were on the food investigating! I will admit, I hadn’t really thought about how to record the results so my notes aren’t very scientific. But my goal was simple, find the ants favourite food and have fun watching them!
The first food to be visited was the bramble jelly, but the most interest was shown to the marmalade and apricot jam. There was some interest was taken in the meat paste too. The cream cheese and monster munch was investigated, but not touched. The honey and pear where completely ignored!
After about 15minutes I sat back to leave the ants be, I reached for the most appropriate of my new graphic novels, Ant Man!
I didn’t want to leave the food unattended, I wanted to make sure that no other passing animal took advantage, but also to be there should something change. I would read for a short while then check on the ants then go back to reading , I did this over the next hour and a half. I saw the meat paste and marmalade were revisited and that the pear was inspected once! In total, 4 ants walked over the monster munch, only to thoroughly preen and clean themselves afterwards. I would say at this point that the marmalade was most popular, the apricot jam came in second, third was the bramble jelly and the meat paste was fourth. The cream cheese, honey and pear all but ignored!
I wondered if the monster munch was too pungent for the ants, so I moved the card with the crumbs and pear to one side. I slide the card with the rest of the food up along the step, to be closer to the nest entrance. Renewed interest was shown.
Marmalade was a huge hit! A lot of ants spent time feeding on the sweet orange food. The honey was now of interest too. The cream cheese was still ignored! This time when the ants found the meat paste, they tucked in!
I watched for another 45 minutes. I would say that this time the meat paste and marmalade came a joint first, the apricot came second, bramble jelly third and honey finally making an appearance in fourth!
One additional insect made an appearance to caste their vote, a marmalade hoverfly landed on the apricot jam for a snack!
I would have liked to have continued for longer but for the third day in a row a thunderstorm hit and I had to retreat indoors. By this time I have spent over 2 hours watching the ants (I didn’t read as much of my comic as I thought I would!). I would do this again, but with a few changes. For the sake of the ants, I wouldn’t use monster munch or any other crisp type snack. For my sake I wouldn’t use the cream cheese. While taking photos and videos I managed to get covered in the stuff! Yuck!
I got a great deal of pleasure from just taking the time to watch these amazing tiny creatures. Ants are absolutely fascinating to observe!