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Salt vs Sugar Experiment

experiment salt sugar honey salt water formica subsericea formica tetramorium tetramorium immigrans

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#1 Offline Mettcollsuss - Posted December 12 2018 - 6:40 PM

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I stumbled across this short article the other day. The article states that ants that live away from oceans or other bodies of salt water will often prefer salt over sweets. It seems like an interesting idea, so I thought I'd try it.

 

I gave my Formica subsericea colony honey and a cotton ball soaked in salt water. At first, the honey and the salt both had only two ants drinking, but five-ten minutes later, the honey only had three or four ants, while the salt had about seven or eight. The ants drinking the salt water also seemed a lot more excited about their find than the ones drinking honey.

 

I also tried this with my Tetramorium immigrans colony, but I didn't get any conclusive results. This is likely due to the fact that they are a largely diurnal species, so there weren't really any workers out foraging. I'll update this when they're more active.

 

Just a fun little discovery I thought I'd share.


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#2 Offline Nanos - Posted December 12 2018 - 7:24 PM

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I stumbled across this short article the other day. The article states that ants that live away from oceans or other bodies of salt water will often prefer salt over sweets. It seems like an interesting idea, so I thought I'd try it.

 

I gave my Formica subsericea colony honey and a cotton ball soaked in salt water. At first, the honey and the salt both had only two ants drinking, but five-ten minutes later, the honey only had three or four ants, while the salt had about seven or eight. The ants drinking the salt water also seemed a lot more excited about their find than the ones drinking honey.

 

I also tried this with my Tetramorium immigrans colony, but I didn't get any conclusive results. This is likely due to the fact that they are a largely diurnal species, so there weren't really any workers out foraging. I'll update this when they're more active.

 

Just a fun little discovery I thought I'd share.

Pretty cool indeed, it seems like the effect is more prevalent in ants that are herbivores although i'm sure if you don't feed carnivorous ants meat for a while they might prefer salt over sugar. 


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#3 Offline Serafine - Posted December 12 2018 - 11:09 PM

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Ants, like all animals, need salt to keep their sodium-potassium pump working (that's the mechanism that keeps your nerve fibers in a state where they can actually transmit signals across your body). I offer my ants a frozen shrimp every 2-4 weeks so they can stock up on salt (there's also a bit of salt in the diluted maple syrup they drink).

They also have a salt lick-stone (one of those usually used for rodents) but I'm not sure if they are actually using it (there's ants sitting on it occasionally but I can't tell if they're licking on it).


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#4 Offline CampoKing - Posted December 13 2018 - 6:51 AM

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Saw the same article a few months ago.  My Camponotus pennsylvanicus all take to himalayan salt crystals.  It's like the ant version of salt licks for deer.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: experiment, salt, sugar, honey, salt water, formica subsericea, formica, tetramorium, tetramorium immigrans

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