Ants can be one of the best foods and sources of protein in a survival situation. Except for in North America, it is relatively common to eat insects for protein and they can even be considered a delicacy. In survival situations, they can be a real lifesaver.
Certain species of ant are safe to eat and can actually provide three times as much protein as other meat of the same size. You will want to avoid ants that are venomous, but cooking them can actually help break down the venom. It is critical to kill the ants before you eat them to ensure that they won’t bite you.
In summary, ants are a great food option because they have a very high nutritional value. They also tend to function in large quantities, so it is easy to stumble upon a large quantity of ant. They are also easy to catch and can be eaten either raw or cooked. They also take little to no effort to catch.
How to Catch Ants
There are a number of effective strategies that one can use to get ants. Of course, what kind of tools and resources you have to spare for this endeavor depends on what kind of survival situation you’re in. If you are in a primitive survival situation, similar to naked and afraid, you will likely only have one tool and no container or spare food.
In this situation, if you don’t stumble upon an anthill naturally, it is important to gather bait to coax the ants to you. Some effective forms of bait include fruits, such as berries, vegetables, and starch.
If you don’t have any bait available, don’t worry. Given you’re not in a place with incredibly extreme terrain it should not be that difficult to locate an anthill. Keep your eyes to the ground until you see ants. They are everywhere. You may even see an entire line of ants or ants carrying something, which is even better. Follow them to the colony. When you get there, bother the colony by prodding it with a stick or kicking up the dirt a little to immediately drive the ants out.
If you are in a situation where you have more tools and resources at hand, it can be incredibly effective to make a bait using a little bit of sugar and water. It is also very effective to get a bucket or container and fill the bottom with this bait. Turn the bucket or container on its side ant the ants will start to pile in.
Ant Nutritional Facts
Ants tend to be very nutritious, which makes them an ideal meal in a survival situation. Of course, a person will have to eat a lot of them to truly gather full sustenance. How nutritious an ant also depends on where it is in its metamorphic stage, as well as what its corresponding diet and habitat are like.
Overall, ants tend to be very high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also provide fiber. Some of the minerals that they provide include iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and zinc. These are both good for the bones and good for the brain and can be the difference of what keeps them functioning or not in a survival situation.
When we get down to it, 100 grams of ants will produce about 14 grams of protein and 5.7 milligrams of iron. How many ants does this account to overall? There are either one or two ants in a gram, depending on the size of the gram. That means that 100 grams of ants will be anywhere between 50 and 100 grams.
Situations Where You Should Avoid Eating Ants
It is not effective and may not be an option to eat ants all the time. In fact, if you have an allergy to shellfish, shrimp, chocolate, or dust it is highly recommended that you tread carefully. To provide extra protection if this is the case make sure that the ants aren’t cooked. This won’t guarantee full safety but will make them less likely to give you a reaction. Ants, like other foods, are capable of causing severe allergic reactions that can really hinder a survival situation.
You will also want to avoid eating ant species that are aggressive or are known to be venomous. Some venomous ant species include the bulldog ant, bullet ant, fire ant, Florida harvester ant, and green tree ant. All of these ants should be avoided, and if they absolutely cannot be they should be cooked before consumption.
Fire ants are one of the most common and should be avoided, but you won’t want to waste a food source by mistaking a common red ant for a fire ant. If the ant is a fire ant, it should have a reddish-brown head and thorax with a rear segment that is black. They also have mandibles and a stinger that can inject venom. If it fits all these characteristics it is likely a fire ant.
If you find an ant dead at arrival—and you didn’t kill it—or an ant is giving off a strong odor, avoid it. This will likely mean that the ant is rancid, spoiled, or not safe to eat.
Most Popular Edible Ants
There are some species of ant that tend to be more popular than others. Black ants tend to be the most popular, as they are found almost all over the world and are high in protein and easy to catch. Weaver ants are found in China, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Cameroon, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and a few other places. They are relatively easy to track down because they, as their name suggests, weave silk around trees to manufacture their nests.
Leaf-cutting ants can also be found all over South America. There are 47 species of leaf-chewing ants, and the leaf-cutting ant is one. They tend to not be poisonous and they cut leaves, which they carry and use to feed fungi which later feed their larvae. The last popular species of edible ant is the honey ant, which is found in desserts and other arid climates, ranging from southern Africa to Australia. They use their stomachs to collect and store honey to bring back to their colony, and for this reason, they can be rather delicious—they are sweet. They can also help you locate honey in a survival situation.
How to Cook Ants
As previously mentioned, the best and safest way to eat ants is to prepare them by cooking them. If an ant is venomous, this can also do a lot of work to reduce the pungency of the venom.
Of course, in the wilderness you will likely not have a baking sheet or any sort of cooking gear, so you will have to make due with what is around you. First, kindle a fire. Lay a rock on the side of your fire so it will get warm but is not in direct flame. You will want to lay the ants along this rock and, again, keep them out of direct flame. Let them cook for a few minutes until they are crispy.
It is important not to let them char or the protein and nutritional value within the ant will dissipate. It is very easy to overcook an ant because of how small their bodies are, so be sure to keep your eye on them the entire time that they are cooking. When they are done, remove the rock from the fire and let them cool down until they are temperate enough to eat.
Ant can be a real lifesaver food in a survivalist situation. They are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also relatively easy to collect and cook. It is important, when relying on ants as a protein source, to make sure you catch an abundance of them to fully supplement your body.