In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the animals, insects, and predators that consume ants as part of their diet.
Some of these include spiders, anteaters, and even birds.
Let’s get started.
What Animals Eat Ants?
Ants are prey to many different animals. There are 19 known predators of ants, including birds, snakes, lizards, spiders, and more.
Nothing on Earth is without an adversary, and ants are no exception. Ants are among the most powerful and numerous animals on the planet, and they employ their massive numbers to protect themselves against both tiny and large enemies.
These eusocial insects generally dwell in hives underground. It is believed that there are about 12000 distinct ant species worldwide. While humans consider ants to be pests, many insects find them to be nutritious and tasty meals.
The anteater eats ants – we all know that. They have a long snout that they stick into the anthills to search for their prey. Thousands of tiny ants can go down in one gulp, and it takes thousands more to fill up an anteater’s stomach for the day.
Anteater’s main predators are large cats, snakes, and eagles. Anteaters also eat termites and other insects and plants such as fruit, roots, and leaves.
The aardvark also eats ants. The Aardvark lives in Sub-Saharan Africa, and they eat mostly termites and some ants when it can find them. This large mammal consumes about 30,000 insects per day to maintain around 100 pounds (45 kg).
Even though the aardvark looks similar to the anteater, the two are only distantly related. The aardvark is more related to elephants.
Aardvarks have no natural predators, but lions and hyenas will sometimes eat them. On its own, the aardvark is rather defenseless, so it must rely on camouflage to protect itself from these animals that eat ants.
Pangolins are unique animals that eat ants. They look like a mix between an anteater and an armadillo, but they aren’t related to either of them!
They have scales all over their bodies which is what gives them the name pangolin. These scales protect these amazing creatures from predators while also helping with what they do best: eating insects!
Pangolins use their front claws to dig into ant hills and then use their long tongues to pick up loads of different ants. They may only weigh about 33 pounds on average, but if you put 25 thousand ants in one place, this little guy will swallow them up very quickly!
There’s no need for water when he eats so much because his saliva has chemicals in it that make all the ants he eats go right down.
4. Sloth Bears
Sloth bears are omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and animals. One of the main foods that sloth bears enjoy is ants!
They find their favorite food by digging into ant hills with their long claws. The Sloth bear’s fur can be blackish brown to light honey hues, so it’s nearly impossible to spot them in a forest or jungle during the day.
At night you might see one if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon one on your travels through Asia.
Orangutans are one of the ape types that eat ants.
They live in the rainforest of Sumatra and Borneo, where they primarily feed on what fruit they’re able to find.
Orangutans are critically endangered because people are destroying their homes for palm oil plantations. Orangutans are omnivores, which means that they eat both fruit and animals (typically small insects).
Other animals in their natural habitat include leopards, clouded leopards, tigers, snakes, porcupines, and other mammals.
Humans are some of the deadliest creatures on earth. If you want to take down an ant, what better way than with a human?
All kidding aside, people can eat ants. It’s not a part of most people’s typical diet, but in some countries, they do eat insects. And one of those is ants. Others include grasshoppers and scorpions!
As you might’ve guessed, the antbird also takes part in the ant-eating party.
The antbirds are a large passerine bird family, Thamnophilidae, found across subtropical and tropical Central and South America.
There are more than 230 individual species of antbirds – a dangerous predator to the ants in that part of the world.
Antpittas are medium-sized passerine birds formerly grouped in the genus Grallaria, but recent studies have shown they should be split into three different genera. They live throughout most of South America and inhabit various environments, from mangrove forests to mountain grasslands.
Their diet consists mainly of arthropods such as ants or termites and includes some small vertebrates such as lizards and rodents.
They use their large feet with spiny scales to dig out insects below ground where they may hide deep inside colonies while using their hooked bills for other smaller prey items on the surface or just beneath it.
They have a broad but rather flat bill with serrated edges, and their tongue is fleshy with small projections pointing to the rear. These features allow them to grab prey from crevices or even just below ground while probing inside colonies of ants or termites for food.
Their behavior also involves chasing insects on foot, often across large areas of habitat – they may use a rock as cover if trying to catch a particularly elusive insect such as an antlion whilst remaining undiscovered by its quarry’s sentry line passing nearby. Though, they are more likely to sit motionless near what appears to be promising hunting territory until it becomes clear what species might be present there before actually moving in closer still instead of being detected by potential prey.
Antpittas also forage around ant swarms and may follow them as they move to new feeding areas. These birds do not seem to be territorial except during the breeding season when establishing territory is highly important to attract at least one mate.
They are monogamous breeders, with pairs nesting either solitarily or accompanied by their young from previous broods; both sexes build nests together out of sticks and leaves deep inside tree holes such as those made by woodpeckers, taking up to two weeks but sometimes much longer if there’s no suitable site nearby.
Wrens are a type of bird that eat ants. They have been known to follow ant trails to find the best sources for food nearby, so they can store their caches and go back later to eat them.
This is what makes wrens such efficient natural predators of ants.
Lizards are quite small, but they gulp their food – and a part of their diet is ants. They can easily capture an ant and then swallow it whole. Lizards like to feed on ants because they don’t fight back much, making them easy prey for lizards.
Lizards are very good at standing still. Since ants don’t have very good vision, they occasionally pass by a lizard. This is when the lizard will strike, eating up the small travelers.
Snakes are one of the most common predators of ants. Many snakes will eat anything that they can fit into their mouths, which means, even if they aren’t hungry when the opportunity arises, they like to eat ants.
Snakes usually won’t pass on a quick snack when an easy prey comes by.
There are many types of snakes throughout the world, and each region has its variety. Some species include garter snake, grass snake, coil snake, green tree python, rat snake, pine snake, black-headed python, boa constrictor, and many more.
Spiders and ants do not get along. There is a common belief that spiders love to eat their annoying little ant friends, but this isn’t always the case. Spiders prefer bugs like flies and crickets over ants – they are just harder to catch.
Toads eat ants as part of their normal diet. They will also eat other insects and worms found on the ground, such as roaches and slugs.
Toads primarily use sight to locate prey, but they can catch smells with their tongues! This is what makes them so good at catching ants that may be hiding underground or trying to sneak away.
Antlions are common predators for ants. They usually live in the desert, and they bring them back to their holes with moist sand to drown or eat them later on. Ants do not like these creatures because sometimes, antlions can even go after what is left of their anthills.
15. House Gecko
The house gecko is a reptile that eats ants. The average size of the house gecko can range from four to six inches in length, making them one of the largest lizards on this list.
These animals are native to Madagascar, and they also live throughout Asia, Africa, Australia, Florida Keys, and Hawaii. It has been observed that if these reptiles do not get what they need by eating ants, then their tails will fall off due to starvation.
Although ants are tiny, they can be quite dangerous. Some ants do also eat other ants.
Now, ants won’t eat someone from their own colony – but that doesn’t stop them from preying on other ants. Apart from this, ants also eat other insects, if they manage to either take them down or find an already dead insect. This includes termites, cockroaches, and other similar insects.
Like all animals, ants need protein to survive and thrive. Since they can get these proteins from other ants, they won’t pass up an easy opportunity.
17. Horned Lizards
Horned lizards are a type of lizard that lives in the southwestern United States and Mexico. They eat ants because they like their high protein content.
The horned lizard is often orange or yellow, with black stripes across its body. It eats mostly harvester ants but will also occasionally eat other types of ant species too!
The horned lizard has what looks to be horns on top of its head, which helps it protect itself from predators when threatened by another animal attacking its tail area where the “horns” are located.
When danger approaches, these animals can puff up their bodies for further protection against attackers just in case they get attacked again after trying to scare off potential threats.
18. Phorid Flies
Phorid flies are tiny but what makes them stand out is their unique appearance. They have a black body with red eyes, wings, and legs. Their antennae are also unique in that they look like the back of an ant head with two pointed “horns” on top.
Phorids can be found all over the world except for Antarctica because it is too cold. This type of fly used to prey upon ants native to Australia but now feeds mainly off invasive species due to habitat destruction caused by humans moving into its territory.
While feeding on ants, these kinds of flies lay eggs inside or near what they eat, so when the larvae hatch, they have food ready for them right away! These larvae eat what is inside the ant and what is left behind. Once they are finished feeding, these larvae spin cocoons to become adult flies eventually.
19. Assassin Bugs
Assassin bugs are in the Reduviidae family, and they live on every continent except Antarctica.
Assassin bug nymphs emerge from their eggs looking like wingless adults, which makes them nearly impossible to tell apart unless they move or you can see their antennae sticking out of a leaf.
Their legs resemble thorns, and when threatened by ants, assassin bugs will hold up one leg as if it was broken; this distracts the ant long enough for the bug to grab its prey with its rostrum (beak-like mouthparts).
The rostrum injects digestive enzymes into whatever is being eaten that quickly paralyzes and kills it before liquefying its innards so it can be sucked dry.