It’s no secret that ants love sweet things. Any time anything sweet gets left out outdoors, ants swarm to it within minutes. In this science experiment, my kids wanted to know if there was a certain type of sweetener that ants prefer over others. We tested a variety of sugar types to see which one was the favorite of ants in our yard. Answering the question of what sweetener do ants prefer was a lot of fun, and the results were a little surprising!
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Classic Science Experiment: What Sweetener Do Ants Prefer?
What you’ll need for ant sweetener science experiment:
- Ants (look for ant piles in your yard)
- Various types of sugar (we tried aspartame, blue sugar, candy sprinkles, white sugar, honey, and corn syrup)
- Bottle caps
Fill your bottle caps with each type of sugar.
Take your sugars outside and leave them near an ant pile.
Wait about three hours.
Count how many ants are near each pile of sugar. We found that the liquid sugars and blue sugar was the most popular with our ants. We especially liked using the blue sugar because we could see it being carried from the big pile all the way to the ant’s nest. My kids were tickled to see the ants carrying the brightly colored sugar back home.
Word of Warning: About a week after trying this activity, suddenly, there were a LOT more ant piles in the area. I think our project sent out a signal to ants that there was plenty of food. So now, we have an increase in anthills. Worth it for science though, right?
What Kids Learn in the What Sweetener Do Ants Prefer Experiment
I had read previously that ants won’t go after artificial sugar, but that’s not what our ants did. Our ants were the fondest of liquid sugar and fake sugar. The regular sugar was a little popular, but the blue sugar was more popular than regular sugar. And the ants didn’t seem interested at all in the candy sprinkles. The kids decided that since the candy sprinkles had a hard coating over the surface of the sugar, that perhaps the ants were waiting until they gathered all the easy-access sugar before starting to break that sugar apart.
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