What Do Ants Eat?

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Updated on Jan 17, 2014

Grade Level: 3th – 5th; Type: Biology

Objective:

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.

Research Questions:

• 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.

Materials:

• Five small plastic plates
• Apple
• Carrot
• Piece of meat
• Anthill

Experimental Procedure

1. Set out five small plastic plates.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Place the five plates near the anthill.
5. Leave the area for about an hour.
6. When you come back, count the number of ants on each plate, and insert the result into a table such as the one below.
7. Repeat the previous step after 1.5 hours and after two hours.
8. Calculate the averages of each column and insert them into the table.
9. 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.

Keren Perles has worked as an educational writer, editor, teacher, and tutor of all ages. Her experience spans the subject areas, from science and math, to English and the Hebrew language.