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Is egg also good to feed Messor workers?

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#1 Offline Formiga - Posted June 3 2023 - 1:59 AM


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A couple of days ago I've tried some boiled egg, both egg white and yolk, to my Messors, and oh boy, they all took it like I've never seen them hit any other food before.


One of the colonies took large pieces of yolk and shred them to non-existent bits to feed the larvae in no time, I'm very impressed with them and I'm expecting bigger ants to be born out of better fed larvae.


Then I looked into a chicken egg composition and it's mostly protein and fat, sugar amounts are minimal.

The queen and the larvae need protein, but the workers just need sugars, right?


I thought they would be hungry by now as they haven't had seeds in some days, but the colonies are really quiet, and from what I've read now in a recent post that's one of the signs that they are food satisfied for the moment.


So is egg a good food for the workers? Or, since the colonies are 10 nanitics maximum, does the queen "chew" the egg for them, processes it somehow into sugars (like the ant bread) and then feeds them to the workers?



As always, thanks for teaching this noobie doobie do something.

#2 Offline Ernteameise - Posted June 3 2023 - 2:37 AM


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My Messors also love egg.

Especially egg yolk.

They go mad for it.

They also like chicken liver, chicken meat and chicken bones.

For some reasons, my Messors are not very much into insect and mammal (pork, beef) meat. They love liver pate and ham, however.


Egg has been a part of ant nutrition for decades.

In  the famous Bhaktar diet (which universities use to maintain their colonies) egg is one ingredient.


It is also the case that "larvae need protein and adults need sugar" is not entirely true. Of course the adult workers also need protein (but less) to build muscles and amino acids to run their metabolism.

And larvae also need sugar, because sugar is the universal "energy" source in nature. You could say that sugar is the petrol / gasoline the organism runs on, and proteins are the building blocks to built the motor.

And of course, for someone who just spend 1500 Euro to have her car repaired, motors break down in adult life and need repair, because of daily wear and tear.


And yes, I also observe that my ants become sated and when they are not hungry, not many of them are in the arena and fewer ants come to the feeding station.

If I have been away for some days or a week and I come back and feed the girls, they come running again.


With the egg yolk, I have seen that the ants chew it into tiny pieces and this seems what they are eating.


Here you can see my acorn ants (2-3mm small) chewing egg yolk into tiny pieces




And this is my Messors enjoying some egg



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#3 Offline Formiga - Posted July 9 2023 - 4:46 PM


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Apologies for replying this late, and also a very big thank you for your reply.


Your reply has been tumbling around in my mind and I've been thinking a lot about what to feed my Messors on a balance of what's right for them and also what's easy for me.


I've checked the Bhaktar diet. It's easy to find it online but if people want to I can post it here (it's on my other computer with a dozen test tubes with Messor colonies also on top of that table and when I'm at that computer I even minimize blinking so I won't disturb them easily...)

The thing that called my attention the most was... Vitamins!!

For what I've read online, the original vitamins product used on the Bhaktar diet cannot be found for sale any longer but there are plenty of multivitamin products around. My question is, Since these vitamins are packed specifically for Humans and not for ants, what is the best one for them?

Too many vitamins also create health issues...


And regarding things to feed my Messors. They really enjoy flies and mosquitoes. Also made me think what are their nutricional needs, their feeding instincts, and also their "food culture" they are introduced to and enforced by us. Basically an ant's Nature Vs Nurture debate.


One thing that also has a lot of vitamins is wet cat food. But then again, would it be good for them?

Also dry cat food. My cat's food bowl keeps on being invaded from outside Pheidoles. Almost powdered dry cat food would also be a practical way to feed them and store the crushed food in a small sealed jar.


One hint that a vet gave me for my cat when I got her still a kitten: If we put some dry cat food on a little dish, soak it with water, wait for a while and then warm it up on the microwave, it will mush to a pulp. This seems a very good way to give it to ants.

Also, now thinking... Kitty food, it also has a different nutrient composition from grown up cat food.


I don't think my ants need food to help them digest their hair balls... :D


So my main questions are: Is cat food good for ants?




You also mentioned ham. These human foods are heavily processed and contain a lot of additives, including preservatives. I know (especially wild) ants can eat just about anything, but will these foods be bad for them long term? Even some people avoid them...

Edited by Formiga, July 9 2023 - 4:48 PM.

#4 Offline Ernteameise - Posted July 9 2023 - 10:21 PM


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As Paracelsus said hundreds of years ago:

It is the dose that makes the poison.


With heavily processed foods (and this includes cat food!!!)Because what do you think that blob out of the tin or the dry pellets are?) you have to vary and feed it more as a treat and not as a stable food.

My ants love liver pate as a treat.


You have to see if the ants will eat different kinds of cat food.

You can also try different kinds of fish food.


Concerning the vitamins.... I am not sure anybody can give you a concrete answer to that.

Not sure if there has been exhaustive research done on the nutrition of ants?

In any case, I would NOT buy vitamins for humans. Too high dosage!

Buy lower dose vitamins- how about buying the liquid ones you use for fish and reptiles? They sell these in every pet store in Germany.

I would just dose these liquid vitamins as it says on the package, how many drops to a litre of water or how much to drip on the food.


The main issue I am seeing:

the contents and distribution of amino acids.

The composition of insect meat and vertebrate meat and eggs is different.

So if you only feed one kind of food, there is a chance that there will be an imbalance of amino acids, and the ants will have lack of some of them.


But as far as I know, ants are very clever.

They will let you know when they need something different.

Ants will get tired if you only feed one kind of food.

They won't accept it as readily anymore.

This will be a sign that you have to change it up and try something else.


As in human nutrition, variation is key.

Change it around, try different things and avoid feeding processed foods (as I said, this includes anything in a tin and in pellet form) as a stable regular diet without also offering fresh alternatives.

Yes, I know, cats and dogs and fish can exist when only fed on pellets, humans can, too, but this is why I write "exist" and not "Thrive".

You just have to ask yourself- would you like only eating pellets for the rest of your life?


Yes, I know about the Bhaktar diet- they have been using it in the lab. It is fine for a lab environment (can be made in bigger batches), especially if the colonies are not kept for years on end.

But having done a course on animal (vertebrate!) nutrition, this just screams out to me as a subsistence diet where ants can be kept "existing" and be kept alive, not as a varied natural diet where they thrive.

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#5 Offline Formiga - Posted August 8 2023 - 5:59 PM


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Thanks again @Ernteameise for your very valuable reply. And sorry once again for replying late, I've been overwhelmed and tired.


You're right about Paracelsus and it's all being about the dosage.

And yes, industrial food, even when "enriched", is processed and not natural, and we should "home cook" for our ants as most as possible and keeps "snacks" as treats and not everyday food. Variety is the key as no food is 100% nutritionally complete.


Thanks for the hint regarding fish vitamin supplements. I'll check it out.

About vitamins for human consumption given to ants, I would apply Paracelsus again and just dilute it more, or give them a tiny tiny fraction of the pill. Again, mg per Kg. (and a Kg of ants are a lot of ants! :D )


I'll visit my local pet shop and check what fish food and vitamins they might have in there.

I've seen a lot of videos mentioning meal worms, but I don't think we have these for sale in Portugal, at least alive.

Fishing shops can have live bait, and that can also be a good thing to try.


At the moment I'm giving them little grasshoppers and flies, whenever I catch them (and have an excuse to practice catching flies by hand, a thing I used to do a lot when I was a kid). When I manage to catch a few of them or my ants have just been fed, I have a container on the freezer labeled "ant food".
Freezing is good because it preserves them, with minimal loss of nutricional values (please do correct me if I'm wrong!) and has the extra bonus of killing parasites that could infest our ants.


Another thing I sometimes do is not boiling, but heating the flies up on hot water (around 80ÂșC) for some seconds to kill parasites and cook them a little.

I found that an expresso coffee machine is a very good and practical appliance for doing it. I have an old shot glass I don't use anymore next to my coffee machine, and when I kill a fly (either by catching it by hand and smacking it against the floor or with my electric raquete zapper - good sport!) I just turn the coffee machine on and in 30 seconds I have the glass full of hot water. Ants seem to take these flies better as warmed up food is easier to chew on and digest.


These words called my attention: Yes, I know, cats and dogs and fish can exist when only fed on pellets, humans can, too, but this is why I write "exist" and not "Thrive". That's a very good summary of your wise words. Emphasis on Thrive. We all want our ants to thrive both in numbers as in health and longevity.


I've mentioned the Bhaktar diet because I read about it and vitamins were the thing that called my attention the most. Even in Nature, usually animals aren't fat and perfectly nourished, and if you catch little animals to feed your ants you'll be giving them the nutrients these little animals have (or lack!) on them, hence the vitamin boost.


In my current case, I still have my colonies on test tubes and it's hard (and becoming harder) to feed them as they want to escape and already deserve an outworld. I'm in the process of making new formicariums with a playground for them, and then it will be easier to get them food in a proper place for it.


Thank you again for sharing your animal nutrition knowledge.

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