Ants and sugar seem to go hand in hand but not in a good way.
From March through to September those pesky sugar ant invaders march into our homes and steal sugar in the dead of night.
But what makes these annoying insects so attracted to sugar and how do you stop them from invading your home?
Why Do Ants Love Sugar?
Ants are attracted to the high calorie content found in sugar that provides a rich source of energy. Scarce in nature, this food source is extremely valuable to ants.
As it turns out, ants are fascinating creatures. The way they detect food and bring it back to their colony would be intriguing―if they weren’t stealing from your cupboards.
The rest of this article will discuss why ants love sugar and how to deal with these pests in your home.
Do Ants Love Sugar?
Ants are mainly attracted to sugar because of how calorie-dense it is. Ants are quite active, so this natural source of energy proves useful to them.
Much like other insects, ants rely on their chemosensory structure which enables them to detect chemicals in the environment.
Even in small quantities, ants are more than capable of detecting sugar from a short distance away.
You’ll probably notice that ants go off in scouting parties searching for food. It’s a valuable survival skill for them, and once an ant detects sugar, it will bring it back to the nest, leaving an invisible trail of pheromones to guide other ants back to the food source.
What Sugar Do Ants Prefer?
Ants have been shown to prefer liquid sources of sugar to granulated. Natural sugars (like from an apple or banana) come with moisture, and moisture-laden sugars like those found in fruit are preferable food sources to ants.
By this reasoning, ants probably slightly prefer brown sugar to white sugar since it contains molasses, although they’ll still take whatever they can find lying around.
Do Ants Prefer Salt or Sugar?
Surprisingly, the question of whether ants prefer salt of sugar has a geographical answer.
Ants need salt in their diet as well as energy sources like sugar, so if they’re in an environment with plenty of sugar (an orchard, for example), they will prioritize salt.
Places with more natural salt deposits will meet the ants’ dietary needs, so they will seek out calorie-dense sugary foods. The species of ant matters as well. Some species aren’t interested in salt at all, while others (mostly carnivorous) will consume salt.
How Do You Keep Ants Out of Sugar?
Keeping ants out of sugar can be a nightmare, but if you’re looking to preempt an ant invasion, then there are several safeguards you can take.
Make sure that all cooking materials are properly put away after you’re done and anything sugary is sealed in a tight container.
If you put a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee or tea, make sure you clean up any crumbs of sugar.
Ants that find even a tiny piece of sugar will make a return trip to scout around the area, and the last thing you want is a parade of ants by your cupboards looking for food.
If you’ve already got a trail of ants that have found food, then it’s worth setting up traps. Liquid ant traps are a good option for killing off the colony, and you can put the trap near the food source that they’ve already found.
Why Are Ants Attracted to Sugar and not Salt?
Contrary to popular belief, some ants are attracted to salt, dependent on their species and geographical location. Carnivorous ants will source their salt from prey, but they won’t say no to free salt if they can find it.
In general, the ants invading your home are non-carnivorous sugar ants, who prefer the calorie-rich sugar to salt.
Why Do Ants Stay Out of My Table Sugar?
Odds are that they just haven’t found it yet. Ants are resourceful at searching for food, but they can only detect food from a short distance. If you’ve got a sealed lid on your table sugar, their chances of reaching it are limited, too.
It’s also quite possible that the location of your table plays into how likely ants are to find the table sugar on it.
Ants like to stick to walls and corners to avoid being trampled by larger animals, and travelling to the table, much less climbing it, across such an open space is dangerous for ants.
Ants are resourceful, and when they find a good calorie-dense source of energy, they’ll snatch it up in a heartbeat. Sugar is attractive to ants because it’s a food source for the colony.
In general, they prefer liquid sugar because of the amount of moisture it has compared to granulated sugar.