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Ant Feeding Guide: What and How to Feed Your Ants

Feeding your ant colony properly is essential for their health and growth. Ants, like all creatures, need a balanced diet to thrive. This guide will help you understand what to feed your ants and how to do it effectively.

Understanding Ant Nutrition

Ants require a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and sometimes fats. The specific ratio and type of food can vary based on the species and the colony’s needs at different stages.

  • Carbohydrates: Provide energy for worker ants.
  • Proteins: Essential for the growth and development of the queen and larvae.
  • Fats: Less commonly required, but some species might benefit from them.

Types of Food


Carbohydrates are crucial for providing energy to worker ants. Common sources include:

  1. Sugar Water: A simple and effective source. Mix water with sugar at a ratio of 3:1 (three parts water to one part sugar).
  2. Honey: Natural and highly nutritious. Dilute honey with water if it's too thick.
  3. Fruits: Pieces of apple, banana, or berries. Ensure they're pesticide-free.


Proteins are vital for the growth of the queen and larvae. Sources include:

  1. Insects: Crickets, mealworms, and fruit flies. Ensure they are either freeze-dried or killed humanely to avoid harm to your ants.
  2. Protein Jelly: Specially formulated for ants, available in pet stores.
  3. Eggs: Hard-boiled egg yolk in small quantities can be a good protein source.

Feeding Schedule

Ants don't need to be fed daily, but regular feeding ensures their health. A general guideline is:

  • Small colonies: Feed every 2-3 days.
  • Large colonies: Feed every 1-2 days.

Adjust the quantity based on the size of your colony and the speed at which they consume the food.

Feeding Tips

  1. Small Portions: Offer small amounts of food to prevent mold and spoilage.
  2. Clean Up: Remove uneaten food after 24 hours to maintain a clean environment.
  3. Hydration: Ensure your ants have a constant supply of fresh water. Use a test tube with cotton to create a water source that won't drown them.
  4. Variety: Rotate different food types to provide a balanced diet and prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Species-Specific Preferences

Different ant species may have specific preferences. Here are a few examples:

  1. Lasius niger (Black Garden Ant): Enjoy sugar water and small insects like fruit flies.
  2. Camponotus (Carpenter Ant): Prefer honey and protein from insects like mealworms.
  3. Messor barbarus (Harvesting Ant): Favor seeds and grains, supplemented with occasional protein.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Overfeeding: Excess food can rot and cause mold, harming the colony.
  2. Wrong Food Types: Avoid feeding ants human food with additives, spices, or high salt content.
  3. Neglecting Protein: Especially in growing colonies, a lack of protein can stunt growth and health.

Monitoring and Adjusting

Keep an eye on your colony’s feeding habits and adjust accordingly. If you notice food is consistently left uneaten, reduce the quantity or try different food types.


Feeding your ants properly ensures a healthy and thriving colony. By providing a balanced diet of carbohydrates and proteins, along with clean water, you can support the growth and vitality of your ants. Always monitor their needs and adjust feeding practices to keep your colony happy and healthy. Happy ant keeping!