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Do Ants Eat Termites?

Nature’s balancing act can be pretty amazing when it comes to pests. Birds eat mosquitos, spiders eat flies, and frogs and beetles eat cockroaches. And if you’ve ever seen the video on YouTube you know that ants devour termites in a swarming killing frenzy that would shock even the most avid horror movie fan.

Ants do not attack termites because they are a danger but because they are so darn tasty. Termites are packed with protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, the wood-eating pests are more nutritious than chicken and beef. That’s why termites are on the dinner menu in some countries. For ants, a termite is a crawling buffet. It is packed with all the nourishment normally found by ants invading your pantry. So who do we root for in this battle of the bugs keeping in mind that in the insect world the enemy of your enemy is your friend? Unfortunately, it’s a draw.

If you have a termite problem, introducing hoards of ants into your home would be akin to cutting off your finger because of a hangnail. Ants can create nests in your baseboards, inside walls, around heaters and pipes, and many other places you don’t want thousands of ants eating and breeding. The ants will likely eat the termites, but not fast enough to prevent the wood-eaters from doing some serious damage to your home.

It’s true that ants are termites’ main enemy and may provide some termite control. But the degree of control depends on the availability of other food sources for the ants. In other words, eating crumbs under your fridge and the grease around your stove is easier for ants than battling termites into submission. Nature’s balancing act may be amazing but when it comes to ants, termites, and you, that’s a fight best left to creatures with more than two legs.

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Do Ants Eat Termites?

What Eats Termites?

Termites face many predators in nature, and one of the most notable is the ant. Ants eat termites for a variety of reasons. Termites make great meals for ants because the they provide plenty of protein. Some of the more important motives have to do with reducing competition for resources.

Ants vs. Termites

Ants and termites require similar living habitats, making them natural competitors. Many species of both pests build nests underground. Like termites, carpenter ants also excavate wood. When ants eat termites, they benefit since they’re removing potential rivals for prime nesting sites.

How Do Ants Eat Termites?

Predator ants raid termite colonies and return home with their prey. Ants can’t digest termites on their own, so they feed them to their larvae first. Once the ant larvae break down a termite’s carcass, workers and queens are able to consume the insects.

Infestation Problems

Activity from either species in a home can result in costly damages. Termites harm houses by eating wood, while carpenter ants burrow into wood to create space for their colonies. The best way to take care of termite or ant infestations is through regular inspection, exclusion and control procedures.

Getting Rid of Termites or Ants

Homeowners experiencing problems should seal foundation cracks and holes to keep either pest from coming inside. Make sure wood supports on decks or porches don’t contact soil, and check that there is no excess moisture in the house. Since termite and ant control often depends upon the use of insecticides, pest control services from Orkin may be necessary to combat an infestation.

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Home » Blog » Why Do Ants Eat Termites?

Why Do Ants Eat Termites?

May 12, 2018 • Published by admin in Ants

Nature is often impressive and formidable. When you view the natural order of things occurring before your eyes, it can seem wonderous and frightening all at once. For instance, nature creates both predators and prey. Predators often feed on prey to sustain themselves and stay alive. When you dive into the world of insects, you will find the same predator vs. prey scenario.

Surprisingly, ants often prey upon termites. It may seem surprising that two insects that often live so close together in nature would form such an odd predator vs. prey relationship, but that is the case. In truth, termites have many predators, but the ant is perhaps the most common and form >

Living Close Together

Ants and termites often take up residence in the same decaying trees, rotting stumps, and softened logs. Although they choose to reside so close to one another, that does not mean they live in peace and harmony. Instead, they view one another as competitors. Ants do not enjoy competing for their habitat, so they put in the work to eliminate a colony of termites.

Ants have successfully destroyed entire termite colonies after going on the attack. That does not mean they are always successful. At times, ants cannot manage to eliminate the entire colony. Part of the reason for that is that termites have adapted to protect themselves against ant attacks.

Termite larvae will sometimes turn into soldiers as a means of protecting the colony. When they evolve into soldiers, they grow large mandibles that they use to fend off an ant attack. They often fight bravely until the moment of their death. They do not mind sacrificing themselves to save the colony from attacking ants.

Another method of protection termites use is building tube-like tunnels. The tunnels are often too narrow for ants, which means termites can hide within their nest safe and sound. Although ants do attack termites, do not wait for them to come to your rescue and destroy an invading termite colony since they are not always successful.

A Food Source

Just like any other living creature, ants need to eat so they can survive. Ants do not just kill termites to protect their colonies. They also kill termites to eat them. Termites have soft bodies that are fleshy and pack plenty of protein. Ants can sustain themselves naturally by eating termites and their larvae for a tasty, protein-rich meal.

Since ants and termites often live alongside one another, it is not uncommon to find you have an invasion of both in and around your home. Do not sit back to see how nature will handle the situation. Instead, contact a local pest control professional for assistance. It is best to rid your home and property of both an ant and a termite infestation call Ant Control Toronto if you need help with ant control.

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To kill invasive ants, feed them what they want

Argentine ants attack a fipronil-treated termite prey. Lab and field tests show that prey-baiting is an effective method for controlling invasive ants and requires far less insecticides than traditional control methods. (Credit: John Obermeyer/Purdue)

You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license.

Poison bait is meant to smell and taste like foods that pest insects like invasive ants like to eat. But giving them the real thing instead of a knockoff might be a better option, researchers report.

When researchers coated termites with poison and set them free near colonies of invasive ants in South Africa, nearly every ant died within three weeks—using far less insecticide than traditional control methods.

“All ants eat protein to grow, and they usually get it by preying on insects,” says Grzegorz Buczkowski, a research associate professor of entomology at Purdue University. “We are feeding them what they want and getting better results.”

There are invasive ant species on nearly every continent, often brought from their native countries to others in the holds of ships. The Argentine ant, for example, came from Argentina to the United States more than a century ago in soil used as ballast on ships. When the ships arrived in Louisiana, they dumped the soil to load up on cargo, and the ants started to spread, reaching much of the southern portion of the country.

Argentine ants outcompete many other species, disrupting ecological interactions and also consume secretions from crop pests, such as aphids. In return, they protect those pests from natural predators, allowing their populations to grow.

“Argentine ants are highly aggressive and competitive. It’s why they can outcompete native ants. But that works against them”

It’s the Argentine ants’ ability to dominate other species that makes the new control method so effective.

“Argentine ants are highly aggressive and competitive. It’s why they can outcompete native ants,” Buczkowski says. “But that works against them. When you put out termites, Argentine ants are the first to find them. They take these termites back to the nest and poison the whole colony.”

In field tests in South Africa, Buczkowski created six 100-square-meter plots and released termites coated in fipronil, a broad-spectrum insecticide. In four plots, the insecticide eradicated 100 percent of ants within 21 days. In the other two, the insecticide killed nearly 98 percent of the ants.

Fipronil is often used in other forms, but those require far more of the poison to control the same area. It would take 2,644 times more liquid spray, and 16,158 times more granules to cover 100 square meters. Those forms must be spread on the ground, and can also kill insects not meant to consume the poisons.

The termites have another advantage over other forms of poisons. Granules, gels, and sprays only affect the worker ants that come into contact with or consume them.

Hydrogel bait lures ants to a killing party

But the worker ants can’t digest termites themselves. Instead, they use a process called trophallaxis. They take the termites back to their nests and feed them to larvae, which pre-digest the insect and feed it back to the workers. The predigested termites poison the larvae, the workers, and the queens who receive the food from workers.

“With some baits you kill off the workers, but you still have queens and broods, and a few weeks later you have a new generation,” Buczkowski says. “With this, you’re stopping the colony from reproducing.”

While the termites die within an hour of researchers painting them with fipronil, Buczkowski isn’t recommending setting termites loose near homes or other buildings to control ant populations. Instead, he sees the method as an effective way to control invasive ant populations in large natural areas that contain colonies with millions of ants.

Future research will include testing other poisons, as well as different bait insects and other species of invasive ants. Since ants tend to want fresh prey, researchers are also experimenting with freeze-dried termites that look fresh but could be pre-treated and taken to field areas to kill ants.

The researchers report their findings in the Journal of Applied Entomology.

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What Animals Eat Termites?

Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Termites, little wood- and vegetable-eating insects, constitute an important food source to many creatures. More than 2,750 species of termites inhabit the globe, endemic to certain countries or otherwise. Only 10 percent of termite species are known as pests. They live in highest abundance within tropical rain forests, where natural termite colonies fall prey to a variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders and mammals.

Termites Defined

Two different types of termites, subterranean and dry wood, appear as light yellow to black antlike insects. Soft termite bodies have equally wide segmented bodies with hairlike antennae, an undefined waists and, in some cases, wings. They live in organized colonies where division of labor consists of reproductive, soldier and worker termites. Baby termites or nymphs can develop into any of the three labor groups. Most termite colonies help the environment by converting plant cellulose into recycled eco-friendly substances and as food sources for a variety of animals.

Mammals and Marsupials

Many animals eat termites, including humans. Swarming termites often leave the nest in early evening, which permits opportunistic predatory behavior from animals within the vicinity. Genets and civets, members of the cat family, have been seen eating termites. Also, other smaller animals such as mongooses, bats and numbats eat termites. Underground creatures such as moles and shrews will eat termites if they happen upon them. Echinidnas, aardvarks and anteaters actively search for termites to eat, and primates have been seen using tools to extract termites. In certain areas of Africa, termites are a popular human food source.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Other animals that take advantage of termite swarms include lizards, frogs and snakes. In Kenya the giant monitor lizard, agamid lizards and skinks have been seen feasting on termites. Geckos, frill-necked lizards and legless lizards feed on termites in Australia. Some blind/worm snakes, such as the eastern blind snake, will live directly under termite-inhabited wood to grab termites and termite eggs as they get hungry. As termites fly in the air, any type of frog nearby will grab them as food.

Insects, Sp >

Ants are serious predators of termites. Six types of ants actively prey on termites. Since ants and termites have similar widespread colonies, it is inevitable that battles will arise. Other insects that eat termites include beetles, flies and wasps. Spiders catch and eat flying termites in their webs; assassin bugs break into termite mounds, stab them and inject them with toxin. Nematodes, unsegmented roundworms, invade termite bodies and kill them.

Hundreds of different birds make meals of termites. When termites swarm, speedy sparrows, swallows, swifts, starlings and weavers will fly to catch them as food. Doves, spotted eagle owls, coucals and chickens will pursue a termite meal on the ground. Even storks will take advantage of a termite swarm if stomachs are empty. Birds may not be able to invade termite mounds, but they can snatch up every one that crawls out.

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What is the difference between white ants and termites?

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Answer Wiki

The term “white ant” can be referring either to the pupae of ants, which you can see when you disturb an ant nest and the inhabitants grab their eggs and pupae and head underground, or to termites. White ant is the commonly used name for a termite. As with many common names, the term has come about because of the way that termites look.

The average termite that home owners come across is usually very close to a white color. The color of termites can vary somewhat, dependent upon what it is that they are eating. A dark color timber, like redwood for example, will give the termites a darker color when eaten. A light colored timber like pine will not change the color of the termite so much.

Pictured above are termites showing soldier and worker termites. The termites with the yellow-orange heads are soldiers. When you look closely you can see large mandibles used for defense. The workers have no distinct mandibles and their head is more closely colored to their body. Note that the worker termites have different dark colored “bellies”, which is entirely dependent upon the amount and color of timber consumed by each individual.

Termites differ greatly from ants in terms of their appearance, characteristics, and dietary requirements. Although very similar to ants in terms of shape and size, termites have some unique features which help identify them.

  • All species of termites live off cellulose, meaning that they not only consume wooden structures, but they can and will also feed on plants, cardboard, and paper.
  • Termites are a light color, usually a white/cream color and can sometimes look quite translucent.
  • They have straight antennae compared to ants.
  • Termites have a thick waist.

On the other hand ants are omnivorous and will eat just about anything. They particularly like sweet, sugary substances and some varieties will keep aphids as “cattle”, protecting them from other insect predators and “milking” them for a sugary substance known as honeydew. An ant’s appearance, pictured below, differs from termites in a number of ways:

  • They are usually a dark color depending on the species.
  • They have elbowed antennae.
  • Their eyes are ev >

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Do other ants eat termites

Utah has a variety of ant species. The three most common types are carpenter ants, pavement/sugar ants and little black ants.

Carpenter Ants: These large ants are indigenous to many parts of the world and are generally about 1/4 to 1/2 in. in size but can grow as large as 1 in. They can be black or reddish brown in color and they prefer to build nests in dead, damp wood. Carpenter ants get their name from their nasty habit of creating nests within the wood parts of buildings, during which they chew the wood and create holes. This can weaken the building over time. Unlike termites, carpenter ants, they do not actually eat it. When inspecting for carpenter ants, we look for a sawdust like material, which provides a clue for the location of the nest.

Pavement Ants/Sugar Ants – The pavement ant or sugar ant is one of the most recognizable ant species as they are the ants that are typically found crawling along cracks and seams in sidewalks and pavement. They are brown to blackish in color and about one-eighth of an inch long. Pavement ants will are omnivores and will eat almost anything. They like to feast on other insects, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts, ice cream and cheese. Pavement ants do not typically pose a public health risk, but can contaminate food with various bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella and should be avoided.

Little Black Ants – Members of this species are extremely small and shiny black in color. Workers are about 1/16 th inch in length and the queens are about 1/8 th inch in length. In doors, they are usually first seen in the Kitchen, Bathroom or Laundry Room but can spread to other areas very rapidly. Little black ants will form multiple colonies with multiple queens and eggs laid by a queen can take just 10 days to hatch. This can make little black ants more difficult to get rid of than other species.

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What Eats Termites?

People who are interested in natural or organic termite control often are interested in what are natural predators of termites.

What Animals Eat Termites?

Quite a few different types of lizards and snakes have been observed eating termites through out the world. In Africa large monitor lizards, skinks, and agamid lizards have been observed eating termites from their colonies. In Australia legless lizards, frill necked lizards, and geckos eat termites. And some snakes who lie in proximity to termite infested wood will consume a few termites or termite eggs when the opportunity arrises.

Amphibians

Frogs and newts will grab termites from the air or from under a rotten log.

Many types of bird will opportunistically nab up both flying termites as well as termites crawling around on exposed ground. Here is a list of just some that have been seen doing so.

  • Spotted Eagle Owls
  • Coucals
  • Chickens
  • Doves
  • Storks

Certain mammals love to eat termites and actively seek them out while others will munch on them when the opportunity arrises.

Anteaters, aardvarks, and echinidnas are amongst the animals that actively hunt termites. Bats will snag up termite swarmers from the air and shrews and moles will snack on termites when they encounter them underground.

According to PBS, just one Bat Eat Fox can even use their huge ears to locate and devour around around 1.5 million termites per year! And all this by hearing the tiny termites gnawing on grass. Check out PBS’s article to learn more.

Yep, you read it right. Humans also enjoy some termites from time to time. And we are not just talking prehistoric humanoid who ate termites… More people on this planet still enjoy some termites for a snack or main course meal to this day.

Particularly in some places in Africa, termites still play a major source of food. Certain people have even developed a custom around getting the termites out of the ground and the preparation of them for eating.

What Other Insects or Bugs Eat Termites?

Ants are probably one of the major competitors and predators of termites. There are six species of ants that will actively hunt termites and eat them. One such species is the carpenter ant.

Carpenter ants cannot live in the same area as a termite colony without waging war. They essentially would be competing for the same resource… the wood that is their food. So for the purposes of natural termite control carpenter ants would be a terrible choice because they would destroy the termite colony and then start feeding on the cellulose containing material that the termites were feeding on prior to their extermination. You would replace one wood eating insect with another. Bad idea.

In fact, there have been several cases of unfortunate home owners who had both termite colonies and carpenter ant colonies under the same roof. If one colony is significantly larger than another, they will most likely destroy the other. However if they are both “evenly matched” so to speak, they may end up destroying a large portion of your home during their competition for wood.

Spiders will eat nearly anything that gets caught in their webs and this includes winged termites. Winged termites swarmers are typically the only type of termite that gets eaten by the majority of spiders since they easily get caught in a spiders web. Spiders may eat a few of these here and there but not in significant enough numbers to be considered anything remotely close to termite control.

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