Did You Know There Are Natural Ant Predators To Wipe Ants Out?
Ants are found in every nook and corner of planet earth. They are often seen in large numbers searching for food crumbs in and outside homes. They are known to have great problem-solving skills and will try to defend their nests at any cost against even the largest enemies. As the rules of natural food chain go, nature balances itself by natural predators who kills another and then get themselves killed by yet another predator. Likewise, many natural predators feed on ants and help us get rid of them. When nature itself provides ways to get rid of ants, then why opt for harmful chemicals or human made traps? Let nature take its course!
The creatures that live with or live by feeding on ants are called myrmecophiles. Some of them can be harmless and might live in harmony with the ants. But others can be dangerous and will feed on the entire colony of ants. Some might use various tricks to fool the ants and feed on or with the colony.
The Natural Predators
Here is a list of the natural predators of ants. These creatures feed on ants and help us to get rid of ant infestations naturally.
- Parasite Ants
There are some parasite ants such as Solenopsis daguerrei. The queen ant in this species does not even bother to make her colony. Instead, it attaches its body to that of another queen ant. It then sterilizes the other queen and will start stealing her food. The colony of ants will keep caring for the eggs of the parasite queen until the original queen gets killed. The parasite ants that had come out of the eggs will then leave the nest and start looking for other ant nests to invade.
- Fire Ants
One of the main enemies of ants are the fire ants. The fire ants will attack other ants in the same species itself. The worker or army ants live by feeding the larvae of other ants. Ants are food of many other small creatures, and they can help you get rid of the ant infestation.
- The Ant-Mugging Flies
When ants get hungry, they will use their feelers to send signals to the face of another ant. The other ant will then regurgitate some liquid food to the hungry ant. The ants exist by such sharing of food by instinctual ways. This is why ants are known as survivors. But, the ant-mugging flies make use of these feelers of ants to grab them. They have clamp shaped antennae which they make use to catch the feelers of the ants. The flies then use their tubular shaped mouths to imitate the tapping sound that resembles the signals sent by ants when they are hungry. This causes the ants to spit liquid food. The fly takes the food and leaves the ant dazed for some time.
Yes! One of the natural predators of ants is other ants itself! Sometimes the relation between ants is compared to that between man and mice. In some cases, tiny ants will connect the tunnels in their nest with that of the giant ants. This allows them to sneak into the large ant’s nest and steal the food materials stored there. Some other types of ant’s kidnap ants belonging to a different colony and keep them enslaved in their territory. These ants would have gotten adapted to the lifestyle they followed and will find it difficult to live in the new colony.
Fire Ant Predators Can Help In Getting Rid Of Ants Naturally!
The fire ant predators are very helpful in getting rid of the fire ants quickly and effectively. Fire ant bites can be painful to both humans and pets. Hence, getting rid of them should be one of your top priorities if you have fire ant infestations in your home. Here are some ant predators that help us to destroy ant colonies naturally:
The paussinae beetles are ‘bombardier’ beetles who can spray a chemical concoction from its abdomen as a defensive mechanism. Many paussinae beetle species are formicophilia in nature. Some of them make use of their jaws that are very sharp to feed on the ants. Other beetles use their mouthparts which is spoon-shaped to lap up the liquid food expelled from the mouth of ants. The ants have large antennae that are in the shape of a disc. The purpose of the antennae is not yet fully known. But, it is believed to be used as handles to pick up the beetle and carry them.
The Larva Mimic Fly
The larva mimic fly might look like a maggot or maybe even like a close relation of Microdon. Whereas, in reality, it is a female fly. She is an adult without any wings and has a large abdomen that covers almost ninety percent of her body. She looks, feels and smells exactly the same as the larva of army ants that are ferocious. These flies will not harm the ants, but they live on the free protection and food they sneak from the ant colony. The male fly looks much more regular and has wings with which they travel from one colony to the other, mating with the female flies.
The Blue Butterfly Caterpillar
The caterpillar of the blue butterfly is a sneaky one, and it imitates the sound and the scent of the queen ants. By mimicking the queen ants, they get royal treatment by tricking the worker ants to consider them as the queen instead of the real ant queen. Once an experiment was conducted by placing caterpillars, queens and worker ants together in a tank. The queens attacked the caterpillars as soon as they saw them. But the worker ants, who are also the offspring of the queens dragged the caterpillars and ensured their safety. This proves how the workers can be tricked to protect the caterpillars instead of the queen. The caterpillars may also feed on the larvae and the eggs of the ants.
The Liphyra Caterpillar
This one also resembles the maggot of microdon. They get to enjoy the same food diet of ant babies. Liphyra is, in reality, the caterpillar of a butterfly. It disguises itself using the same odor as that of ants and tricks the ants. The jaws of ants cannot penetrate the caterpillar body. Hence, even if ants repeatedly attack them, it survives and lives in the ant colony feeding on the baby ants and larvae.
The Microdon Maggot
Microdon is similar to the common fruit fly. It is a Phorid fly and has strange looking maggots which were the reason for them to be mistaken as a slug species. The maggots have a strong protective smell and bodies that are like shields. The maggots pretend to belong to the ant colony and live inside the ant’s nest. They feed on the larvae of ants.
The Oogpister Beetle
This one is a ground beetle that is large and is a well-known ant predator. It does not bother to trick the ants like other predators. It storms right into the ant mound and gobbles it all up using its jaws. When the ants try to fight back, the beetle uses its legs and kicks them away. The beetle also gets acids present in the ants and then sprays this acid from their abdomen when predators approach them.
The Eucharitid Wasp
These wasps can be considered as the closest cousins of ants. They have individual lifestyles and are diverse. It is a parasitoid of ant. They leave small larvae over plants, and these larvae get attached to the body of ants passing over the plant. Thus, they get transferred to the ant colonies riding over the ant bodies. Once they reach the colony, they start feeding on the brood of ants until they get matured.
The Ant-Loving Snails
Many types of arachnids and insects often sneak inside the nest of ants. But, the mollusk doesn’t do that. Instead, the snail named Allopeas myrmekophilos makes use of a luring smell slime to attract the ants and make themselves captured by the ants. Once they reach the ant nest, they stop releasing the smell of food and thus get ignored by the ants. They then live inside the colony feeding on the food stored by the ants.
Sneak Peek Into The Natural Predators Of Carpenter Ants, Fire Ants And Much More!
There are a vast number of natural predators which help in eliminating ants efficiently. Let us take a look at some of them:
The Ant Eaters!
There are specific anteaters who like the name itself denotes, eat ants! It is a four-extant species, a mammal belonging to the suborder named Vermilingua. The term Vermilingua means ‘worm tongue.’ It feeds on both termites and ants. It has elongated snouts and a thin tongue which can extend to a length more than its head length. The mouths are tube-shaped. It has lips, but do not have teeth. They make use of their large and curved claws in the front part to tear open the mound of ant or termite nests. They have thick and lengthy coats of fur on their body. This helps them withstand the attacks of ants.
The Ant Lions
Ant lions are also enemies of ants. They are not lions even though they are named so. Ants lions are the larvae of doodlebugs. They dig out holes inside the ground and keep waiting there inside the hole for the ants to stumble and fall into it. It feeds on all the ants that fall inside the holes. Other natural predators of ants are the aardvarks and anteaters. Both of them use their long noses to suck the ants. Other ants can also be enemies. They break into other ant homes to get food. Ants and termites are enemies. Termites are often called ‘white ants’ as they resemble ants and are white. But, in reality, termites are not ants.
Most of the spiders feed on ants whenever they get hold of the ants. The Lynx spider, Black Widow, and Jumping Spider are some of the spider species that feed on ants. The spiders will weave webs using spider silk and traps the prey in it. When ants get caught inside the spider web, the ants will start struggling inside it unable to free itself. That vibration alerts the spider, and they go to feed on the ants. Some spiders wait and hide to catch prays. When they see an ant, they will jump on top of it and kills it.
The Animals That Feed On Ants
Most of the animals that feed on insects will eat ants too. Here is a list of animals that feed on ants regularly:
- Insects like caterpillars, flies, and Beetles.
- Spiders like jumping spiders and black widow spiders.
- Hard shelled organisms like Snails.
- Snakes also feed on ants.
- The lizards and fish
- Birds like grouse, starlings, and sparrows
- Mammals like coyotes and bears.
- Some fungal infections can consume the ants.
Strange Ways Of Eating Ants
Some of the ant predators have unknown methods by which they feed on ants. Some of the fly species will lay eggs on the ant’s bodies. When the larvae get born, they will start feeding on the ants around them. The spiders weave webs and lure the ants to their web. Then they spin the food particles into bite sized food morsels. The bears often eat honey when they are outside searching for ants.
Ant As A Source Of Protein
Some human beings also feed on the ant. Even though the ants are small in size, still they are a rich source of protein. Variants like lemon ants, found in nations like South America and Ecuador are costly due to their rich protein content.