Prefered Food For Harvester Ants (Messor Structor)

13. November 2012 by Mike in Food, Messor Structor  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

I'm currently trying to determine the food most preferred by the Harvester ants. Finding food they are interested in has so far been tricky (and expensive!). Here I rate each food type by how quickly it gets taken into the nest, the rubbish created and my guess on suitability.

Harvester Ant Food

Things I have tried so far.


  • Immediately taken into the nest, lots of feeding. 5/5.
  • Potentially not healthy to use caught flies as they might contain bacteria etc. 2/5
  • Lots of rubbish - wings, legs, partially eaten fly (yuck!) - 1/5

Seeds (Ant store "Mix Fodder 1A")

  • Non-stop harvesting of these seeds until the nest was overflowing. They seemed to prefer the grass ones but all types were taken in. 4/5
  • Seems to be a targeted mix of seed types for Harvester ants so should be perfectly suited. 5/5
  • Reasonable quantity of rubbish - husks from seeds etc, but all quite small. 2/5

Seeds (Peckish Finch seed mix)

  • Reasonable amount of activity but very selective. Lots of seed types being ignored. 2/5
  • Seeds so should be what they want but as they are being selective I'm not sure if they will get a varied diet. 3/5
  • Reasonable quantity of rubbish - husks from seeds etc, but all quite small. 2/5

Dandelion Seeds (Ebay)

  • Initially VERY interested working non-stop for 24 hours taking the seeds in. Very easy for the small ants to carry. Interest quickly stopped though - not sure why. 4/5
  • Not sure on the suitability, suspect similar to other seeds. 5/5
  • Same amount of waste as other seeds - they are similar to grass seeds so the outer husk gets thrown out. 2/5

 Mealworms (Dried)

  • No interest in dried worms. Soaked some in sugar water and one was taken into the nest but subsequently was thrown out. 1/5
  • Probably not a good idea to feed them dried mealworms as they get alot of their water from what they eat. In theory the Mealworm would be full of protein though! 2/5
  • They didn't eat it fully so loads of rubbish. 1/5

Mealworm (Zoo Med's "Mini Mealies")

  • No interest in the worms :-( 0/5
  • In theory they should be perfect, moist fresh Mealworms with lots of protein! 5/5
  • Dried out eventually and had to be thrown out. 0/5

Cricket (Zoo Med's "Can O' Crickets" mini size)

  • No interest in the crickets. 0/5
  • Potentially lots of protein. If only they were interested.... 5/5
  • Dried out just like the mealworm, untouched. 0/5

Honey (Ant store "Forest Honey")

  • No interest in it "neat". 0/5
  • Harvester ants I think would only use this for short term energy so not amazingly suitable. 2/5
  • Would be really easy to clean up as it is in a dish. 5/5

Sugar Water (Ant Store "Invert Sugar")

  • Diluted into water and placed next to their water source some ants seemed to prefer it. 2/5
  • Would only be used for short term energy. 2/5
  • Very easy to clean up. 5/5


I would rate the Ant Store Harvester ant seed mix as essential for Messor ants. It would be possible to find a mix that they would like but you will get lots of wastage as they will only take the ones they like.

Dandelion seeds are definitely worth considering to put in with the Ant Store seed mix.

I'm still searching for a source of protein for them. I suspect it will end up being flies of some sorts!

Ref. Ant Store



Harvester Ant Dragging Fly

12. November 2012 by Mike in Food, Messor Structor  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

As the colony is so small I thought the queen might benefit from a protein boost. My friend provided me with this fine fly specimen from a restaurant electric fly zapper :-)

I dipped the fly in boiling water for 30 seconds to sterilise the outside. Forum posts seem to indicate flies aren't the best choice of protein for ants as they can have many bacteria on them etc.

The strength of the Harvester ants is amazing - he was able to drag the fly on his own back into the nest!. They are also amazingly persistent.  Numerous times food has fallen off the ramp and they have gone back for it and eventually got it to the top of the ramp and into the nest!


Note: I wouldn't advise giving them flies, they don't seem to eat it all and it creates a mess with legs and wings all over the place :-)