(Photo: Experimental Test Samples)
For the past 3 or so months, I have been researching and working on an update to Sunburst Ant Nectar. After a number of experiments resulting in around 30+ gallons (115+ liters) of discarded product, I have finally arrived at a satisfactory update that is in the final stage of production and is ready to start shipping as planned on Monday, July 8.
- Increased resistance to crystallization (to aid in unscrewing liquid feeders)
- General compositional changes to better account for ion concentration
- Increased number of testing parameters for quality control purposes
- Switched to annatto color, a natural, plant-based pigment
- 5% increased life in byFormica liquid feeders
- Added sugar types, d-glucose and fructose
- Added calcium (possible nutritive benefit)
Going through the changes, the most profound change is a compositional change to the types of sugar, so that Sunburst is now less likely to crystalize in byFormica liquid feeders. In the past, sugar crystals were likely to form in the threads of the liquid feeder vial, making it difficult to unscrew if the feeder had been left alone for a long time (weeks). Now, the Sunburst should stay syrupy instead of crystallizing, in most cases.
Adding new types of sugar was the most difficult change to implement, because ants do not prefer these simple sugars, so a very minimal amount is needed, but enough to inhibit crystallization of sucrose. Further complicating matters, making the sugars through enzymatic hydrolysis of sucrose produced unintended interactions with the water molecules, forcing me to use commercially prepared, refined crystalline forms of the sugars. And even then, the monosaccharides glucose and fructose are less stable in alkaline solution compared to sucrose—they will more easily group together to form more complex, larger molecular polymers (like caramelins) if the pH is too high.
Next up, with the switch to annatto color, Sunburst is now a 100% natural, plant-based formula. There are no added preservatives or synthetic dyes in Sunburst Ant Nectar.
Finally, based on user feedback and our own research, the composition has changed very slightly. This change essentially reduces the degrees Brix of the solution by about 4%, while maintaining about the same level of electrolytes. With this change, Sunburst should offer slightly improved compatibility with water-seeking ant behavior, and last about 5% longer in byFormica liquid feeders, as it will take slightly longer to form a concentrated syrup, which the ants do not enjoy.
Through small, incremental improvements, I believe this batch is shaping up to be the best yet at making feeding sweets to ants easier, more reliable, and more convenient than ever before! Look for bottles with an expiration date of 06/30/2021 worldwide and enjoy the benefits of our ongoing research!
Edited by drtrmiller, July 5 2019 - 10:00 AM.