The Effect of Natural Attractants on Pogonomyrmex barbatus Based on pH Level

The purpose of this research was to determine which of three household liquids: lemon juice, black coffee, or sugar water would attract the greatest percentage of Pogonomyrmex barbatus (red harvester ants) based on their different pH levels. The pH levels of lemon juice, black coffee, and sugar water are 2, 5, and 7 respectively. The percentage of attracted ants to the natural attractants in this experiment can be applied to the development of more efficient and health conscious insect repellents or attractants. In the experiment, common household liquids were selected based on their pH levels. It is known that ants are attracted to sugary food sources; therefore, the experimenters hypothesized that the sugar water would be the most efficient natural attractant. In order to collect data to prove this, 62 red harvester ants were placed into two separate tanks and a treatment was applied to a paper towel placed in the center. After three minutes, a photo was taken of the paper towel square and the number of ants attracted to it was recorded. Once the experiment was completed, three two-sample t tests were conducted to compare the three attractants to each other. Out of all the attractants, sugar water attracted the most red harvester ants; therefore, the collected data showed that the method of experimentation was one that was accurate. Instead of chemicals that can endanger those who use it, organic liquids found in the household can be used to replace the chemicals in ant traps. This would provide a safer alternative for humans and animals alike.

Research Conducted By:

Desiree Boyd
Lake Shore High School

Shelby DeBruyne
Lake Shore High School