ALLEVARE FORMICHE – Alimentazione
Reading the posts on Facebook , I see that many of the users’ questions have to do with feeding. I would say that it is appropriate to do some clarity on the issue … The world of ants is complex and certain aspects are still unknown, in the group we try to learn from each other but there are methods tested over the years by many breeders and researchers that it would be good to follow if you want to succeed. Personally, I think that testing new methods is part of the hobby, but I find it necessary to follow the guidelines and gain as much experience as possible before venturing out onto unknown roads. We must always remember that we are dealing with living beings and that our actions can compromise the colony if performed without criteria. Nutrition is a vital topic in the world of ants and often the success or decline of a colony is strictly linked to this topic, especially in captivity. In this video I want to share with you everything I know about ants feeding. Before starting with the topic you need to know the best way on how to provide food to your colonies. In the presence of nanitics and as long as they will be manageable in test tubes you can supply food directly inside, making sure to give adequate portions that the ants can consume completely. This will prevent you from having to clean the remains, which should however be removed within a few days at most. As soon as you begin to have difficulty in containing them in a tube, you can think of giving them a small arena. An arena is nothing but a container where you give the ants the opportunity to forage food and explore, it represents the world outside the anthill. Many species of ants live in the ground, with high humidity and the constant danger of causing bacterial infestations and molds, so cleaning is also a necessity for ants. In nature, once they have consumed the food inside the anthill they undertake to keep it clean by bringing the waste and the remains outside; if managed properly they will do the same even in captivity. Giving ants the chance to create a garbage point will help keep the anthill clean and facilitate waste removal on your part. Well, let’s start from the beginning; you essentially need to provide 3 items to your colonies: Protein, sugary foods and water. The lack of one of these 3 elements will lead to malnutrition and even to the death of the ants if the problem is not resolved quickly. Protein is essential for an ant colony. In particular for the development of larvae and for egg laying. Many species carry pieces of insects inside the anthill, directly available to the larvae to speed up the process and why adult ants do not have a buccal apparatus used to chew solid foods The colonies with a lot of offspring, need a constant source of protein and always grow more and more numbers and you will have to be the ones to supply them. The main protein sources for ants should be insects but they can be used: meat, moist food for cats or dogs and in case of granivore species, such as ants of the genus Messor; seeds of various plants. When the workers discover the food in the arena, they will try to consume as much as possible the semi-solid parts and bring the remnant to the anthill as a supply and to allow the larvae to feed independently. If you give to the ants insects that you breed personally, like cockroaches, crickets or camole is very important that these are in good health and especially that they are in turn fed properly to have a good rate of protein. Although they are very important for the colony, an exclusively protein diet can be fatal. Several studies show that colonies fed only with proteins have a very high worker mortality due to accumulated toxicity. This is why it is extremely important to provide a varied diet. The second essential element for feeding ants is sugary food, very important for adult workers who are always on the move, sugary foods are mainly used to supply ants with energy. Examples of sugary foods: fruit, honey, water and sugar, seeds, the nectar of flowers, some species in the wild breed aphids of plants to drink the sweet secretions that is called honeydew. To answer one of the most common questions regarding this topic: how much food do I need to provide to my ants? If you keep a source of proteins and sugars in an arena constantly, the ants will know how to handle them on their own. At my Polyrhachis dives colony I supply food constantly, proteins and sugars are always available in the arena, I make sure to clean up the remains that they produce and place in the wastefill daily. The third element is water, vital for any biological process and life form. The ants need a constant supply of water and a tube used for this purpose positioned in the arena could be a good idea. I do not think I need to tell you that without water, the colony can perish within a few days. Observing the ants at work for food can be very interesting to better understand how their little big world works. You will certainly notice that the ants pass food mouth-to-mouth with a process called trofallaxis, you will see workers busy taking food inside the anthill and others trying to keep clean by bringing the waste into the arena. Give your ants a variety of different foods, this will help you understand which ones they prefer and which they manage best. It is not advisable to provide complex food to young colonies, it is best to do these experiments once the colony is adult. As long as they are in test tubes I suggest you focus on simple food sources: insects for protein, fruit and honey for sugary foods or small shelled seeds if the species is granivorous. With proper nutrition, the growth of your colony will be optimal and enjoyable to observe, and learning these little notions can help you with most species. As usual if you liked the video or it came handy leave me a like or subscribe to the channel, if you have any question regarding the feeding of the ants I invite you to let me know with a comment Thanks for watching!