What Do Ants Eat? - Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What Do Ants Eat?
  • 0:55 Sweet Foods and Liquids
  • 1:12 Plants and Seeds
  • 1:34 Insects and Animals
  • 2:07 Ant Diet Facts
  • 2:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

As a group, ants like to eat all of the same kinds of foods that you do. Learn about all the different types of meats, vegetables, grains, and other foods ants eat as well as other fun facts about this bug!

What Do Ants Eat?

Have you ever seen a cartoon that shows ants raiding a picnic and carrying an entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich, roll of salami, or even the whole picnic basket away? Do you think ants can really do that? Well, they probably can't carry a big piece of food all at once, but if you leave your sandwich out, chances are some hungry ants will find it and gobble it up!

Ants will eat just about anything. That means they'll eat the same foods that you eat, like vegetables, meats, fruits, nuts, juice, and even soda. But not all ants like every kind of food, just like you might not like bananas, but you might love pizza. All over the world, there are more than 10,000 different kinds of ants, and each kind of ant likes to eat certain things. Let's look at some of these things now.

Sweet Foods and Liquids

Do you like sweets? Many ants eat sugary nectar, or the liquid that plants make. They also feed on the sweet 'honeydew' liquid that aphids make (aphids are another kind of insect). You will see ants eating oranges, mangoes, and other sweet fruits as well.

Someone has left a yummy piece of candy for sugar-loving ants to enjoy.
candy

Plants and Seeds

Other ants prefer to eat their veggies, like corn, and plant material, like grasses and leaves. They also eat seeds, grains, and any plant that grows food on it. Not only do some ants like to eat food from gardens, but some ants are gardeners themselves. The leaf-cutter ant, for example, uses chewed-up leaves to grow fungus, which it will later eat.

Ants carrying seeds back to their nest to eat
seeds

Insects and Animals

Some ants eat insects and even small animals because they like to eat meat. Other ants eat each other! Army ants will invade the nests of other kinds of ants and eat their eggs or young. In fact, a queen ant might even eat her own young if she doesn't have any other food to keep her alive!

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