How Do Ants Eat?
Adult ants can swallow nothing but liquids. At the rear of the ant’s jaw is a storage pocket. Solid food goes first into this pocket, and there strong saliva breaks it down. The ant swallows the liquid part and spits out the solids. The ant digests part of the food it swallows and stores the rest in its crop.
Sometimes called a “social stomach,” this crop is used to store food for other members of the colony. When an ant is hungry it strokes a worker ant with its antennae. The worker brings up a drop of liquid from its crop and passes it into the other ant’s mouth.
What do they eat?
Ant species eat many different foods. Some specialize in sugary liquids like nectar and the “honeydew” produced by aphids and other insects. Many eat other insects and other small animals, and scavenge dead meat.
Some others specialize in eating seeds or fungus. Ants drink from dew, rain drops, and puddles, and sometimes they get their moisture from their food (like nectar).
Many ant species store food in their nests, especially the seed-eating ants. Others eat fungus that they grow in their nest. Ants that find a big food source leave a chemical trail, so that their nest-mates can find the food too. Pretty soon there is a busy column of ants going back and forth from the nest to the food source.
Leaf-cutter ants live in warm climates; they cut up leaves and carry them into their nests underground. They eat the fungus that grows on the leaves.
Army ants and driver ants roam through jungles and tropical habitats eating any animals they can find. They are big ants with sharp jaws, and there are many thousands of them in a group. They will eat any animals, even large ones, which they can catch.