Ants are everywhere; they live on every continent except Antarctica, and they live in almost every kind of climate. Some are harmless, some are a nuisance, and some a downright dangerous. Yet, since they’re so common, they’re also a source of food for many different animals. In this article we’re going to look at 11 different animals that eat ants and learn a little bit about each.
11 Animals that Eat Ants
1. Jumping Spider
Scientific Name: Salticidae
Jumping spiders are among the least-scary of all the arachnids. Some people would even call them cute. Ants, however, would not agree. Jumping spiders commonly prey on ants, with ants being the primary food sources for some species. Their small size, excellent vision, and jumping ability make them deadly ant-killers.
Jumping spiders are the most common spiders in the world- over 13% of all spider species are jumping spiders. Unlike many spiders, they don’t spin webs, and instead actively hunt their prey using speed and keen eyesight.
Learn more about spiders that eat ants here.
Scientific Name: Myrmeleontidae
Antlions, sometimes called doodlebugs, look like a tiny version of something straight out of a horror-sci-fi movie. Specifically, the larvae of antlions are voracious predators and one of the biggest predators of ants worldwide. They dig their famous pits and then lie in wait buried at the bottom. Ants that fall in the pit are unable to climb out, and quickly find themselves trapped in powerful jaws.
Antlions are remarkably common, but few people ever see the adults. Adult antlions look a bit like slender dragonflies, and they’re mostly active at night. They also have very short lifespans as adults, which is one reason why we’re so much more familiar with the larval form.
3. Horned Lizards
Scientific Name: Phrynosoma
Honed lizards, also called horny toads or horntoads, are an iconic species of lizard native to the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico. These small, spiky reptiles are insectivores, meaning they eat insects, and most of them eat ants more than any other bugs. The Texas Horned Lizards, the largest species, eats a diet that’s 70% ants, with termites making up the rest.
Many species of horned lizard have the ability to squirt a jet of blood from their eyes as a defensive mechanism to scare away predators. The blood is mixed with foul smelling chemicals to ensure that it repels the would-be predator.
4. House Gecko
Scientific Name: Hemidactylus turcicus
These geckos are a very common sight in homes in warm climates, and they’re good to have around. They’re voracious little predators, and ants are a favorite food. Really, all gecko species will eat ants, but this is the one you’re most likely to encounter.
Geckos don’t just eat ants; they’ll eat any insect that they can catch. This makes them a great form of natural pest control, so if you see them around your house, just leave them be.
5. Fire Ants
Scientific Name: Solenopsis invicta
Ants are one of the most common predators of other ants, and fire ants are especially predatory. In fact, in places such as the southern U.S., invasive, non-native fire ants are rapidly exterminating the native ant populations which have little or no defense against them.
Fire ants are native to South America, but they’ve been introduced to North America where they’re a dangerous invasive species. They’re aggressive and territorial, and will readily attack humans (just ask anyone who lives in the Southern states).
6. Giant Anteater
Scientific Name: Myrmecophaga tridactyla
The Giant Anteater is one of the most instantly recognizable animals in the world. It isn’t the only species of anteater, but it’s the most famous. Despite the name, they actually like to munch on termites just as much, and their powerful claws are designed for ripping open tough termite mounds.
Anteaters are native to South America. They use their long, sticky tongue to collect the ants and termites they love to eat, and they swallow them whole because anteaters have not teeth.
Scientific Name: Troglodytidae
Wrens are a large family of birds, mostly native to North America. All species are insectivores, and ants are a common prey item. These birds are small and fast, so they can easily catch large numbers of ants.
Wrens live over much of North and South America, in almost every kind of habitat. They’re one of the most common types of birds in the New World, which makes them one of the most common ant predators.
Scientific Name: Manidae
Pangolins look like a cross between an anteater and an armadillo. They have armored scales all over their body, long tails, and long, narrow snouts which contain long, sticky tongues. They tend to focus on just one or two species, with each individual having its own ant preferences.
Pangolins live in Africa and Asia, and they’re threatened by poachers throughout their range because some of their body parts are used extensively in folk medicine.
Scientific Name: Orycteropus afer
Aardvarks are the anteaters of Africa. They look a bit like a cross between an anteater and a pig, and they’re actually a bit famous. They feature heavily in a lot of African folklore, and the main character of the cartoon Arthur is an aardvark (although he doesn’t look much like one.)
Aardvarks feed on termites and ants almost exclusively, but there is one other food they eat: cucumbers. It’s odd, but cucumbers are the only fruit that aardvarks consume. In fact, the specific type of cucumber they like to eat is even names the Aardvark cucumber.
Scientific Name: Homo Sapiens
Ants are actually a popular food for humans in many places. In much of the world, insects are considered rather unappealing, but there are lots of cultures for whom insects, including ants, are a traditional food and even a delicacy.
In Mexico, ants are sometimes eaten coated in chocolate, or deep-fried as a bar snack. You can even buy dried or roasted ants packaged like chips in some stores in the U.S., often flavored with chili powder.
Scientific Name: Pongo
Orangutans have been known to sometimes eat various insects including ants and termites. The primates have been recorded on several occasions using a tool such as a small stick to extract ants or termites from their colony.
Orangutans are an endangered species that live in the rain forests of the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.