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What Eats Ants? Here are Their Top Natural Predators

What eats ants?

Ants are pretty much everywhere – scurrying across floors, marching in endless lines through your garden, and even building intricate underground colonies. With over 12,000 known species, they are a force to be reckoned with. But what eats ants to keep the population in check?

In this article, we’re going to look at the most likely animals to have ants on the menu, explore their unique hunting habits, and even provide practical advice for managing ant populations in your home and yard

All About Ants

Before jumping into the most common ant predators, let’s take a quick review of the average ant. Ants have three main body parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have six legs, two antennae, and powerful jaws called mandibles. Ants live in colonies that can range from a few dozen to millions of individuals, depending on the species.

Each colony has a queen responsible for laying eggs, while worker ants forage for food, care for the young, and maintain the nest.

Knowing the basics of ant anatomy helps to understand what eats them.

What Eats Ants Most Commonly?

From the iconic anteater to other insects, here’s an overview of what normally eats ants in the wild.


Of course, anteaters are one of the most well-known ant predators. There are four species of anteaters, including the giant anteater – which can grow up to 7 feet long!

Anteaters have long, sticky tongues that can extend up to 2 feet to reach inside ant nests. They also have sharp claws that they use to tear open ant mounds and lap up the insects.


Antbirds are a family of small, insectivorous birds found in Central and South America. While their name suggests that they feed on ants, most antbirds actually feed on insects that are flushed out by marching ant colonies.

However, some species, like the bicolored antbird, do consume ants directly. These birds follow army ant colonies through the rainforest, picking off the insects that are disturbed by the ants’ movements, and often, ants that fall behind the colony.


Many species of spiders, including jumping spiders and ant-mimicking spiders, regularly prey on ants.

These arachnids use a variety of hunting techniques to capture their prey. Some spiders ambush ants as they move along trails, while others lure them in by mimicking ant pheromones. Certain spider species even build webs near ant nests to catch the insects as they come and go.

Other Insects

Interestingly enough, several other insects have adopted ants into their diet. The assassin bug, for example, eats ants. It uses its powerful front legs to grab and pierce ants, injecting them with digestive enzymes before consuming their prey.

Phorid flies lay their eggs on or near ants. When the larvae hatch, they burrow into the ants and eat them from the inside out. Certain species of beetles and their larvae also feed on ants, using a range of strategies to infiltrate ant nests and prey on the colony.

Ants and the Ecosystem

Despite their small size, ants play a crucial role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. These hardworking insects help out in several key ways:

  • Soil Health: As ants dig tunnels and build nests, they aerate the soil and help distribute nutrients, promoting plant growth and improving soil fertility.
  • Seed Dispersal: Many ant species help disperse seeds, which is essential for maintaining plant diversity. Some plants have even evolved special seed structures to encourage ants to carry them to new locations.
  • Food Web: Ants serve as a vital food source for many animals, including birds, reptiles, and mammals. They are an essential link in the food web, supporting a wide range of species. The ant also eats various other insects, including many that are considered pests.
  • Decomposition: Some ant species, like leaf-cutter ants, help break down organic matter, such as dead leaves and wood, accelerating the decomposition process and recycling nutrients back into the soil.
Visual representation of what most commonly eats ants.

Recommended Ant Management

While ants play a vital role in the ecosystem, they can become a nuisance when they invade our living spaces. Here are some practical tips to help manage ant populations in your home and yard without resorting to harsh chemicals:

  • Keep your home clean: Regularly wipe down counters, sweep floors, and store food in sealed containers to avoid attracting ants.
  • Seal entry points: Locate and seal any cracks or gaps around windows, doors, and foundations to prevent ants from entering your home.
  • Use natural repellents: Cinnamon, vinegar, and peppermint oil are natural ant deterrents. Sprinkle cinnamon near entry points, spray a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water around problem areas, or place cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil near ant trails.
  • Maintain your yard: Keep your lawn mowed, remove fallen fruit and dead wood, and trim back vegetation touching your house to reduce outdoor ant habitats.
  • Encourage beneficial predators: Attract natural ant predators like birds and beneficial insects to your yard by providing appropriate habitats and avoiding the use of broad-spectrum pesticides.

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve tried these preventive measures and natural remedies but still have a persistent ant problem, it may be time to consult a professional pest control service. Signs that you may need professional help:

  • Large, widespread infestations that don’t respond to your efforts
  • Suspected carpenter ant or fire ant infestations, which can cause property damage or pose health risks
  • Ant problems that persist for several weeks or months

A pest control professional can identify the ant species, locate nests, and develop a targeted treatment plan.


From the mighty anteater to the tiniest phorid fly, there’s not just one category of the animal kingdom that eats ants. These complex relationships highlight the vital role ants play in our ecosystems.

Embracing eco-friendly solutions and seeking professional help when needed allows us to coexist harmoniously with these remarkable insects while preserving the invaluable services they provide to our environment. To get help with an existing ant population or schedule preventative maintenance, call Honor Services in Melbourne, FL, and surrounding areas today.

Michelle Shishilla

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