How Do Ants Detect Sugar? {Ants Going Crazy!}

Have you ever noticed how quickly ants detect sugar and surround it? How do ants detect sugar?

How far away can ants detect sugar? What do they do when they find it? How do they locate it and which types of sugars do they prefer the most?

In this article, we will find out how ants detect sugar.

How Do Ants Detect Sugar?

Ants are able to use chemosense receptors to detect sugar and other food sources. You may think sugar is odorless but it isn’t.

Ants can detect low concentrations of chemical smells by using olfactory receptors. They also have small bristles on their body to detect sugar.

They also use their antennae to sense foods and other threatening or attractive stimuli in their environment.

Why Are Ants Attracted to Sugar?

Sugar is an excellent form of energy for ants. And tend to prefer sugar over any other type of food source. Sugar comes from a multiple varieties of foods.

Ants actually prefer that is dissolved or can be dissolved instead of hardened rock or crystallized versions that remain solid. This is because ants do not eat solid food.

Ants are attracted to sugar by using chemosense receptors. They alert each other when sugar is present in order to capitalize on this food source.

They will ingest as much as possible and bring it back to their colony. Sugar provides enough energy to keep ants alert and active throughout their hard-working schedules.

How Far Away Can Ants Detect Sugar?

Ants can use olfactory receptors to find food from quite a distance. They are incredibly attracted to sugar. A chunk of sugar that is dissolving can release in odor that ants cannot resist.

  • Ants can smell food from as far as 3.3 meters are 10.8 feet away.

Once an ant detects the food they will communicate to each other by the use of pheromones and scent trails to make sure that as many members of their working colony. They arrive to absorb as much sugar contents as possible in order to continue the survival of their thriving colony.

How Can Ants Find Their Food?

Ants find their food by using their antennae and olfactory receptors. They can locate sugar through the scouts that they send out as a team of investigators. These scout ants will hopefully find sugar and other food sources.

Then, they leave a scent trail behind. They will press their abdomen to the ground to create this pathway. They will go back to their nest and alert other ants. These ants will follow the scent trail by using their antennae to sense the secretions.

They also have bristles on their body to follow the trails. The scout creates the trail and worker ants follow it until they reach their food source.

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Do Ants Prefer Honey or Sugar?

The answer is both and also neither. The most important thing is that the sugar itself must be able to dissolve. If sugary foods do not dissolve and remain in solid form it will be harder for ants to liquify.

Ants do not eat solid foods. If there is a liquid drop of honey next to a crystallized rock of sugar, ants would prefer the honey because it is easier for them to ingest since it is in liquid form.

Adult worker ants have a hard time swallowing anything that is not in liquid form. Foods that contain sugar that can dissolve are much more attractive to ants than just a plain bag of sugar.

Do Ants Like Fake Sugar?

Artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet, Splenda or even natural alternatives such as Stevia or Agave do not attract ants as much as sugar does. This is because they do not contain the same carbohydrates.

These artificial sweeteners do not leave behind a scent as attractive as sugar. Some artificial sweeteners like Aspartame are included in ant poisons.

Ants are not as attracted to artificial sweeteners compared to sugar. If you are looking to make a bait trap by using a sweetener, opt for sugar mixed with baking soda or other ant killer products in order to trap and kill infestations before they get worse.

How Do Ants Locate Their Food?

Ants are able to leave behind pheromones and scent trails when they are looking for food. It is a chemical trail that other ants will be able to follow.

Ant colonies have incredible senses of smell. They send out scouts who will be charged with finding food sources. They will press their abdomen against the ground to create chemical secretions that other ants can follow.

This is essentially how the scent trails are created. A combination of the folliwng reactions help ants locate food:

  • pheromones
  • olfactory receptors
  • chemosense
  • scent trails
  • antennae
  • cheeping sounds

Do Ants Make Noise When They Find Sugar?

Yes. Not only do ants use pheromone trails that they can secrete by pressing their abdomen against the ground, they can also make cheeping sounds. These sounds are also referred to as stridulation.

The sound is produced by rubbing two parts of their abdomen together. It helps them to create signals with their legs. Their antennae is still their most powerful body part to sense different chemicals in their environment.

A combination of pheromones trails, antennae and stridulation helps ants detect and communicate with each other and their surrounding chemical environment.


If you leave sugar lying around or residues of food crumbs and droppings, ants would be able to detect it. If there is a relative level of humidity and moisture in the air, these solid foods that contain sugar can leave a liquid residue that will strongly attract thirsty ants.

Ants do not want to detect rock hard pieces of food. They want to find food that they can easily absorbed in liquid form.

This is why sugar is such an attractive substance for ants who have the chemical receptors available through bristles on their body., Their antennae are used to not only find, but communicate to their colony that sugar is present.


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