Ohio Operating Engineers FCU Spring 2018 Edition
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Honeypot Ants: Living Storage Containers

Honeypot ants measure approximately 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in length and are dark red. Some of the ants, called "storage ants," have larger abdomens than the other honeypot ants. They use their own bodies as "living storage." Worker ants bring the food and they gorge themselves with it. When filled with food, the abdomen of a storage ant can look much like a small grape.

The role of honeypot ants is quite simple. To get big, fat and juicy! They are the "storage units" of the colony, full of nutritional ingredients in liquid form. When food is scarce and the worker ants can't find enough food to feed the colony, the honeypot ants regurgitate their stored food in order to feed the colony. The worker ants stroke the antennae of the honeypot ants, causing them to regurgitate the stored liquid.

They are native to the deserts of Africa, Australia, and North America. They are edible - no preparation required. The liquid has a very sweet taste and is a good source of sugars. Honeypot ants are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. What a treat!

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