Some of our unhealthy eating habits have spread to even the tiniest of creatures. A new study of ants found in New York City determined that certain species of the insects are happy to chow down on the same crap we do.
Researchers at North Carolina State University looked at more than 21 different species of ants collected from dozens of places all over Manhattan such as sidewalks, street medians and parks. The six-legged city dwellers then had their isotope content analyzed to help determine their diet. Researchers found that ant species that flourished on sidewalks and medians had isotope contents similar to humans, meaning they eat what we eat—or at least what’s left after we eat.
“Human foods clearly make up a significant portion of the diet in urban species,” said Dr. Clint Penick, lead author of the study. “These are the ants eating our garbage, and this may explain why pavement ants are able to achieve such large populations in cities.”
Interestingly, though, not all species of pavement-dwelling ants craved human foods. A species of ant known as Lasius cf. emarginatus that has only been found in NYC in the past five years can be found on sidewalks, yet they still prefers to forage in the branches of trees. Turns out even ants have their crazy vegan buddies who move to NYC after graduating from Berkeley.