What Do Fire Ants Eat ?
Fire ants are omnivorous insects and are not fussy about their food. They can eat almost all types of plants and animals, as well as other insects, mice, turtles, snakes, other vertebrates, young trees, seedlings, plant bulbs, saplings, fruit, grass and any plant material etc. When searching for food they cover almost 50 to 100 feet around the nest in loop forms. They have two stomachs; one is used for storage which is taken to the colony for other ants while the other is used as their energy source.
Worker ants have the ability to swallow only liquid foods. Even though they cut and chew with their mandibles they do not have the ability to consume solid food matter. Only the fourth instars have the ability to convert solid matter into liquid which is then consumed by the colony. The preference of food for the fire ants is protein foods like meat, insects etc. Other types which are included in its diet are carbohydrates, lipids etc.
When searching for food the workers leave their colony and search randomly. When they find food they return to their colony leaving a trail of chemical pheromone. After reaching, other workers follow the trail and then begin collecting the food to take to the nest. The trial is also used to conquer the area of food source and protect it from enemies. Once the food source is retrieved it is converted into liquid by the fourth instars of the colony and the colony has a feast. In case of an encounter with liquid food the searching team of workers swallows it and stores in the stomach for the colony. After reaching the colony they regurgitate the swallowed liquid. The other fire ants lick up the liquid and it is divided equally among the colony members.
The most efficient predators of the colony are the foraging workers. They have strong front mandibles which are used to sting the prey. The stingers at the end of the abdomen are poisonous. It stings repeatedly and injects venom into the prey’s body. This venom causes paralysis or even ends the life. These workers have the ability to kill the prey which is very much larger than its size. Once the prey is paralyzed or killed by the foraging workers they make arrangements for its movement to the colony. If the prey is very large, they take it apart into smaller pieces and then carry the pieces to the colony.
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