What Eats Ants: Natural Ant Predators

When you want to get rid of ants on your property, you may want to get curious about what eats ants. Searching for allies is reasonable. Here is the insight about natural predators of ants, both common and exotic.

And while the list of potential ant consumers may even be longer than you imagined, it does not contain some of those you expected to be there. So, who can you rely on in your long stand against ants?

Let’s check which cuisine relies on these tiny but numerous creatures the most.

Anteater Guide

Why would you want to know more about ant eating animals? For many of you, it’s just a bit of fun reading. But if there is some wildlife in your courtyard and you really feel the need to get rid of insolent ants, you may really find essential help from mother nature.

Not that they can be relied on largely but still, having an ally is a great thing. Not all of them, though, can be equally great as your neighbors. But all of them are worth at least mentioning.

It would take an encyclopedia to write about all the animals that eat ants, so I have chosen the most common ones you’re likely to meet or the most unexpected and curious ones.

Animals & Bugs That Eat Ants

So, who can you rely on in your incessant war against ants? The list will be long.

There are many enemies that ants have in the wild simply because ants are edible. And we’re not speaking about large animals that ruin anthills and consume their eggs in numbers.

For many an animal (and not only), even a single ant is a gourmet treat. As for the hill destroyers, hardly will you meet them around your house, so excuse me for not focusing on them.

Plants

Ant at plants

When you hear about predate plants, the first thing to cross your mind is predictable. Do Venus fly traps eat ants?

The answer is yes, they do, and ants fall to this plant’s charms more often than you think. Still, these species are too rare to seriously rely on.

Still, a look at a stray ant that has somehow gotten into that killing flower may be curious and (if they have been getting on your nerves) sort of satisfying.

Other insects and Spiders

Ant spider bite

When I spoke about borax, I mentioned that ants consume liquids from their dead. But they don’t get confused that it’s a sort of cannibalism. And they don’t need any Fava beans and chianti to enjoy the remains of their remote fellows.

What would you expect from others? Never do wasps eat ants, but they kill them and feed of their larvae. But, for example, often do centipedes eat ants, as well as many other species.

Flies and butterflies also can eat ants. Spiders (though technically they are not insects) may be Friendly Neighborhood for you, but not for those little insects they eat with great pleasure.

Snails

Ants at snails

Snail may contradict your views of predators, but still, slow as they are, they do eat ants. Of course, they don’t pursue an ant like a mammal or an amphibian predator would.

But they are always up for an ant breakfast if it gets stuck. On the other hand, it’s more common for ants to eat snails. So when a snail does its revenge, it’s satisfying in more than just a nutritional sense.

Fish

Army of Ants carrying fish

Ants are recommended as a nutritional additive for tank fish. In the wild, they mostly live in different environments.

But if an ant suddenly gets into the water, it may fall prey to a fish easily. Flying ants, like all flying insects, can also be hunted by archerfish.

These species, though, are mostly common in the Indian/Pacific region, from India and Southwest Asia to Australia. So mentioning them is rather a piece of trivia than a recommendation.

Amphibians

frog on the window

Do frogs eat ants? Give them more. If you have some of them in your grass, you better not touch them, even if their croaking sounds are disturbing. For you, their ribbiting doesn’t sound as terrible as it does for an ant.

Yes, these little creatures can hear sounds (though scientists still don’t agree on how it happens). But hardly would a frog jumping in a pond inspire some ant poet to write something like Basho’s haiku; it would be rather something like “Croaker, Croaker, jumping might in the water of the night.”

Reptiles

Dead Reptile Eaten By Ants

Imagine an ant saying in disgust: “Why did it have to be snakes?” And it may be the last thing it says. Because many snakes are okay with a bunch of ants if they don’t find a tasty frog or a mouse.

Do lizards eat ants? Lots of them. Indeed, many reptiles, especially smaller ones, gladly feed on ants. It will take too much of their attention to get rid of ants completely. But knowing that is fun.

Birds

Mother Bird feeding flapper

When do chickens eat ants? All the time except when they’re crossing the road. Birds are among the most famous predators eating ants. Why? Because ants can’t impose a no-fly zone. Not only do birds eat ants: they do it regularly.

The list of species includes pigeons, sparrows, crows, and woodpeckers, as well as less common species to visit your property, like pheasants, grouse, wild turkeys, etc. And if never do hummingbirds eat ants in front of you, it’s because of a lack of hummingbirds, not that of ants.

If you think it’s a good idea to feed the birds in your courtyard, relax: you already do, at the expense of ants. Just make sure you’re not feeding on your crops or flower seeds if there are any.

Mammals

giant ant eater walking

Among mammals, you can name exotic species. Not only do anteaters eat ants as their name suggests: so do pangolins (don’t eat them!) or orangutans. Also do squirrels eat ants, so you know what to bring to the park the next time, instead of nuts.

More common ones are your regular pets, like, say, your dog who is often up for an ant or two. Hedgehogs also do. Even those you don’t usually see, like moles, do eat ants.

The most surprising species on the list are bats. So if there are some in your attic, maybe it’s them who keep your home ant-free. Prepare your Bat-Signal if you encounter too many ants.

Humans

Well, why not? Not only are ants edible for animals: they are rich in proteins and carbohydrates. And if you have ever tasted formic acid from a real ant (like I did in my childhood), you know they have a specific taste, which can be done well. So yes, we the people eat ants too.

Man eats

And it’s not Chinese cuisine that makes use of ants, as you might think (the famous Ant Climbing a Tree doesn’t contain them). These insects are popular in Mexico: escamoles is made of ant eggs, and chicatanas (local flying ants) are used for making sauces.

In Colombia, ants are used for desserts and salads. And there is an Indian dish named chaprah – essentially, a red ant chutney.

As for me, I have only eaten them raw in my childhood, and though they seemed tasty back then, I wouldn’t engage myself in hunting and eating every one of them on my ground.

Animals that don’t eat ants

There are also popular delusions about animals that are supposed to eat ants, but indeed they don’t. For example, ants normally don’t consume their dead (though there are exceptions; for example, those poisoned by borax become quite attractive as food).

For example, do grasshoppers eat ants? The answer is no, sorry for ruining your hopes. Neither do mice eat ants, unless very hungry and having nothing else around. When do roaches eat ants?

Only when they run into a dead one, but they will never touch a living ant. And if the question is “do ladybugs eat ants,” the answer is “no real lady will.”

FAQ

Ant-eating is a thing that surely has kept many of us awake at night. And if you wonder in your bed about ants as a food, here are some answers.

What happens if a dog eats ants?

Nothing bad will happen if your dog eats a regular ant or two. With more dangerous species, like fire ants, though, it’s different, and you better keep your pet away until the problem is solved.

Neither should you let your dog eat the food infested with crowds of them. The same applies to cats either, so you shouldn’t worry if your kitten gets too interested in ant hunting.

Are ants predators or prey?

It depends. Ants can even kill a human (not as fast and spectacularly as in that Indiana Jones movie, but there have been cases). They often attack wasps, flies, and other insects.

But, as you see, they are also fed on massively. The ant food chain is a curious thing.

What are ants’ worst enemies?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the list is headed by other ants (though, of course, an ant civil war is among events you wouldn’t like to witness on your ground).

Also, there are spiders, phorid flies, antlions, paussinae and oogpister beetles, as well as some types of caterpillars.

Do spiders eat ants?

Yes, as I’ve said, there are many a spider species that gladly consume ants. They include, for example, lynx spiders and your familiar garden, a.k.a. orb spiders.

So, you better keep these eight-legged neighbors safe.

Ant Diet for Everyone

Hope you have found some natural allies. Not that their presence will completely eliminate the need for insecticides. But now that you know more about things that eat ants, you will think twice before booing them away from your property.

But if you want to become one, I’d rather recommend the nearest Mexican or Indian restaurant. And then welcome to the comm-ants!

Also read

References

  • Red Ant Chutney(Atlas Obscura)
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/red-ant-chutney-chaprah-india
  • Escamol(Wikipedia)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escamol
  • Butterflies that trick ants with sound(Francesca Barbero and Luca Pietro Casacci)
    https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.2757
  • Enemies of Terrestrial Snails(Martina Eleveld & Robert Nordsiec)
    www.molluscs.at/gastropoda/terrestrial.html?/gastropoda/terrestrial/enemies.html
  • EATEN ALIVE BY ANTS(History Snoop)historysnoop.com/eaten-alive-by-ants/
Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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