Yes, ants are attracted to honey. Honey contains a good amount of substances including sugar and water which ants need for survival. To ants, honey is an attractive source of energy and nutrition.
In this article we’ll look into the composition of honey and determine why exactly ants are attracted to it.
What Is Honey And What’s In It?
Honey is a dark, thick, viscous, golden food substance known for its sweetness and documented medical benefits. It’s produced by bees using the nectar of flowering plants and as such, comes in a number of varieties that differ in color, odor, and flavor. Despite these differences, however, honey generally consists of the following substances:
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Sugar. Honey is mostly composed of carbohydrates or sugars like fructose and glucose. The ratio of these sugars depends on the source of the nectar but generally speaking, honey is composed of around 82% sugar, most of which is fructose and glucose. It may also contain smaller amounts of disaccharides like sucrose, and oligosaccharides like erlose, theanderose and panose.
Water. Next to sugar is water which makes up around 17 to 18% of honey. This water content is surprisingly low considering nectar is mostly water but it’s actually within the right amount to maintain the quality of the honey. Any less and the honey would crystalize and be rendered useless to bees unless diluted. On the flipside, excess water may also promote the fermentation of yeast and cause the honey to spoil.
Vitamins and Antioxidants. Honey also contains vitamins and antioxidants. These vitamins include vitamin C and the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. As for antioxidants, honey contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C), flavonoids, catalase, and selenium which all help prevent oxidative damage and the onset of disease.
Proteins and Amino Acids. Aside from vitamins, honey also contains proteins in the form of enzymes including amylase, catalase, and invertase. Aside from that, it also contains a number of free amino acids like proline, glutamine, lysine, and many more.
Minerals. Finally, honey also contains minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, chromium and manganese.
Why Are Ants Attracted To Honey?
Ants are generally attracted to things that help them survive and it just so happens that honey is highly nutritious and contains a number of substances that do so. These substances are as follows:
Sugar. Sugar plays a major role in the process of respiration, a biochemical process which allows cells to obtain energy. Both glucose and fructose help produce the fuel which powers the cellular processes in the ants’ body which are required to keep them alive. As such, honey is an attractive food and energy source for ants.
Water. Water is important for a number of processes such as digestion, respiration, and molting. These processes factor into growth, development, and survival, hence the reason water is particularly attractive to ants. Even if the moisture in honey is relatively low, honey still provides ants with the water that they need.
Vitamins and Antioxidants. Vitamins are essential nutrients which allow ants to function properly and stay healthy. While ants can produce some vitamins including A and E, they still need a dietary source for water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and the B vitamins which function as coenzymes that help with metabolism and other reactions in their bodies.
Proteins and Amino Acids. Ants can break down and use the proteins in honey into amino acids which they then use to build or replace enzymes, hormones, and proteins needed for their muscles, cuticles, and many other purposes. These amino acids can also be converted to carbohydrates for energy as needed.
Minerals. While small in amount, the minerals found in honey help out with the ants’ bodily processes. Iron for instance, is needed for cytochromes which help in the transfer of energy within cells. Calcium and potassium are important for nerve and muscle health as well. Lastly, phosphorus is a component of the cell membrane and is necessary for the growth, maintenance, and repair of all tissues and cells.
Are Ants Attracted To Pure Honey?
There’s a misconception that ants aren’t attracted to pure honey, be it due to its high fructose content or because they can pick-up the smell of bees in the honey. However, this simply isn’t true and ants are in fact attracted to pure honey in the same way and perhaps more so than ones with additives.
As established, honey, including pure honey, contains a number of substances that ants require to survive. As such, pure honey serves as an attractive food source to ants.
That said, ants can be wary and possibly stay away from pure honey due to its viscosity. Due to its low moisture content, pure honey can be very sticky and may essentially end up as a death trap for ants as they get stuck.
However, as the honey gets exposed to air, it absorbs water and eventually gets diluted. This makes it less viscous and therefore easier for ants to eat.
Do Ants Eat Bees?
While ants are more likely to invade beehives for honey, some ants do kill and eat bees and their brood. In severe infestations, ants may cause to leave their nests in a process called absconding. In these cases, the bees leave plenty of food behind including honey and their brood.
Are Ants Attracted To Urine?
Like with honey ants are attracted to urine because of the different substances it contains. These substances include water, glucose, sodium, urea, and proteins which as mentioned are used in important processes in the body that allow for proper function and survival.
Are Ants Attracted To Blood?
Likewise ants are also attracted to blood for the very same reason. Substances in blood that attract ants include water, sugar, urea, and other nutrients
Summary: Are Ants Attracted To Honey?
Ants are attracted due to the different nutrients and substances it provides. These include sugar, water, proteins, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals which make honey not just an attractive energy or food source but also a highly nutritious one that helps ants function properly and survive.