Everyday Income/Make Money from Food/



Raising Ants for Profit

Ants are one of the smallest insects around the world but like other insects they are high in protein comparable to other animals like mammals. Ant eggs are comparable to chicken eggs too when it comes to protein content.

Escamoles is the Mexican term for the popular ant eggs served in Mexico. People put them in tacos, salads and so on. They are also expensive as they can only be harvested 2 months each year which makes them quite rare. They are also called as “Mexican Caviar” due to their buttery taste, rarity and price.

In Colombia there is a species of queen ants that are hunted and eaten by people during their mating season when their abdomens become engorged with eggs. They are highly sought after for their taste and believed health properties that is said to prolong life. They are also quite more expensive than ordinary meat. They cost on average $65.00 per kilo.

They are also eaten in Thailand and even sold online. Preserved weaver ant eggs from Thailand sell for $8.00 for a small 70 gram bottle. They are only available for harvesting 5 to 6 months every year which makes them quite rare and therefore expensive. Those who harvest them usually earn 1.5 to 2.5 times more than the average rural salary.

The ants and the eggs can be both eaten but the eggs are much more liked. In India for example people can eat both ants and their eggs raw or grind them to paste and cook them usually fried. The same is true for Africans who also do the same thing to ants and their eggs.


Other Ways of Making Money from Ants

They are eaten too as food in China but also used for medicinal purposes. The Chinese create tonics, wine and other concoctions made from ants and also sell them even online. Entire ant colonies are even smuggled from one country to another to be raised for food and medicine.

If one does not want to eat ants or take medications based from them they can be used as animal food. Chickens eat ant eggs. They scratch the lairs of ants and pick off with their beaks the ant eggs. Ants are also eaten by other ants, other insects, birds, fishes, reptiles and mammals. This makes them excellent food for even large mammals as bears.

Ants are even sold as pets. In Amazon 1 seller sells 30 harvester ants in a tube for $8.00 minimum.

I checked online and found out that ants will eat almost anything edible which is a great advantage for raising them. However different ant species will have different preferences for the kinds of food they eat. However all ants need to drink water.

I tested feeding melted ice cream to 2 groups of ants. The orange coloured ants gorged themselves with the melted ice cream while the black coloured ants did not respond. The black coloured ants where instead going back and forth inside the flowers of plants. My assumption is they are gorging or gathering nectars. You could do the same test if you plan to raise ants.


Can We Farm Ants?

All the articles and videos I saw showed ants and their eggs being harvested in the wild. I have not seen any actual large scale facilities where the ants and their eggs are raised and then harvested. Ants are foragers and they travel long distances from their colony to look for food.

Ants build their colonies usually in 3 ways:

They dig up small interconnecting underground tunnels in soils. You may not notice this when you pass upon a soil surface but if you look and see if there are holes about half a centimeter in width chances are there is a much bigger hole attached at the end of these small holes which houses the ant colony.

They also build them in plants and trees surrounding them with leaves joined together by the ants to form an enclosure to their colony.

They also build them in cracks, crevices and holes even in urban areas where the entrance is small enough for them to get in but protects them from much bigger predators.

If we were to raise ants in a massive scale then the best option would be the 3rd where we build containers with cracks and crevices that can be opened instantly to collect the ants and their eggs inside. These ant farms should be located in areas not in proximity to people so they do not pester them but have food sources for ants to eat and with a water source.

Just like raising bees one needs a protective suit to protect themselves from ant bites while they are collecting them and their eggs.


Conclusion

As can be seen by the prices previously mentioned for ants and ant eggs they are profitable and fetches much higher prices than most conventional sources of meat. Their prices will go up as harvesting them becomes more and more difficult. More and more people are collecting ants and their eggs resulting in overharvesting plus their natural habitats are being destroyed.

If people can successfully raise ants the way they raise bees then they stand to make very good profits.