Honeypot ants carry their community’s emergency food supply on their backs. Worker ants feed honeypots nectar until their abdomens expand with golden, sugary liquid. When food is scarce, they will rely on their engorged neighbors’ regurgitated reserves.
The ants, whose bulbous backsides can swell to the size of a grape, are such an important resource that other colonies will attack to steal them. They’re not just a valuable food source for insects; indigenous Australians have also incorporated the honeypots into their diet as a source of sugar.
In addition to Australia, the ants can be found in desert and other arid environments around the world, including Mexico and the United States’ Southwest. To forage for the sweet bugs, one must locate the ant hill, carefully dig into the nest, then remove a small number of honeypots (don’t get greedy; this is the colony’s emergency supply, after all). Then simply pop one into your mouth and wipe away any sweet, warm juice that may dribble down your chin.