Grade Level: 3th – 5th; Type: Biology
What do ants eat? Scientists observe animals to see what their preferences are. You can do the same with this science project by examining which foods ants love best.
- What types of human foods do ants prefer?
- Would ants rather have: a cookie, an apple, a piece of bread, a carrot, or a piece of meat?
When you’re hungry, do you prefer an orange or a fudge brownie? Pizza or a hamburger? Now that you’ve answered that question, what do you think ants prefer to eat? A cookie, an apple, or a piece of meat? You can figure it out based on this science project.
- Five small plastic plates
- Piece of bread
- Piece of meat
- Set out five small plastic plates.
- Put a cookie on one plate, an apple on a second, a piece of bread on the third, a carrot on a fourth, and a piece of meat on a fifth. Try to make sure that the pieces of food are about the same size.
- Find an anthill that seems to contain many ants. Make sure that the anthill does not contain fire ants, which have a reddish-brown head and thorax, but a darker abdomen.
- Place the five plates near the anthill.
- Leave the area for about an hour.
- When you come back, count the number of ants on each plate, and insert the result into a table such as the one below.
- Repeat the previous step after 1.5 hours and after two hours.
- Calculate the averages of each column and insert them into the table.
- Examine your data. Which foods did the ants like the best? The least? Why do you think that was so?
Terms/Concepts: What do ants normally eat?; Where do ants live?
References: Experiments You Can Do in Your Backyard, edited by Joanna Callihan and Nathan Hemmelgarn, pp 22-23.