Do Ants Eat Termites? 

ants fighting termites in termites nest

There’s a battle to the death going on right now in your own backyard, but we’re not talking about war with humans. This battle is between ants and termites. We, as humans, don’t even notice, but the termites notice because ants eat termites, and they do it violently. It’s a morbid scene and not for the faint of heart. 

Do Ants Eat Termites? 

Yes, ants eat termites because they are a good source of protein. According to Grzegorz Buczkowski at Purdue University’s Entomology Department, “All ants require protein for growth, and they typically obtain it by hunting insects.” These findings were published in the Journal of Applied Entomology.

infographic of termite vs ant
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez

Why Do Ants Eat Termites?

For more than 80 million years, ants and termites have coexisted and evolved with a predator-prey relationship. Ants just want to eat the termites, and the termites just want to eat wood or cellulose-containing materials. Termites are ideal food for a number of reasons: 

  • They don’t run away
  • They live in large groups
  • They are a size that most ants can tackle
  • Their bodies are soft
  • They lack a “wasp waist,” rendering them defenseless from ants. They are unable to defend themselves effectively. Their mandibles are their only means of defense, and they lack venom or stingers to fight back.

How Do Ants Eat Termites? 

Worker ants can’t digest termites on their own. They do so by means of trophallaxis. This process involves taking the termites back to their nests and feeding them to the larvae, who pre-digest the insect and feed it back to the workers. 

To easily transport termites, ants often dismember them into smaller pieces, which might sound gruesome, but it is an effective technique. Some ants even use venom to paralyze the termites. These termites then serve as a food source for the ant colony once they are safely inside the nest.

Do Termites Eat Ants? 

termites rotting on an old wood
Photo Credit: AnuchaCheechang / Canva Pro / License

Not live ants. Termites are mainly herbivores and feed on plant material like leaves, grass, and wood. In addition, they can also be categorized as detritivores as they consume decaying organic matter, which includes plant material, dead insects, and animal waste. Their diet does not commonly include live insects.

Termites, as detritivores, have a crucial role in the ecosystem by breaking down decaying organic matter. If that decaying organic matter is dead ants, then yes.

Do Ants and Termites Live Together? 

No, not typically. They are mortal enemies, and termites inevitably become the main entree. However, there is one exception: The Nasutitermes corniger termite from the neotropical region lives with different types of ants. In the wet season, ants share a part of the termite’s nest as a shelter and may eat live or dead termite workers. In return, the ants offer the termites nutrient-rich-rich nitrogen and help improve the nest’s defense.

Ants That Eat Termites 

Argentine ants
Photo Credit: Paulie858 / Canva Pro / License

Several species of ants are known to eat termites — Their tactics can vary but the end game is dinner (termites). Check out some of the ant predators who dine on termites below: 

  • Army ant
  • Driver ant
  • Weaver ant
  • Fire ant
  • Black ant
  • Harvester ant
  • Argentine ant
  • Sugar ant

Interesting Note: Within their small realm, these ants behave like soldiers, risking their limbs and lives to scavenge for food. Injured ants that have lost legs or antennas are tended to by their healthy counterparts who lick their wounds in hour-long shifts. This treatment has been found to reduce mortality by 70 percent, potentially by preventing infections, as reported in a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Does having ants in your yard and/or house mean you don’t have termites? 

Having ants in your yard or house doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have termites. Although ants are natural predators of termites, they don’t necessarily eradicate the entire colony. Ants may feed on termites for protein, but the chances of consuming the entire termite colony are slim to none. Termite colonies are usually massive, so the presence of ants does not necessarily indicate the absence of termites.

Do people eat termites?

Yes. In Thailand, eating insects is all the rage, and since this article is about ants and termites, let’s include them here. Edible termite alates are pretty popular and are known for their nutty flavor. They are believed to be a healthy snack and can be consumed on their own or mixed with soy sauce, chili and pepper, lemon grass, and kaffir lime leaf to make a more appetizing dish. In some cases, they are served as a seasoning for other dishes.

Do termites bite? 

Even though termites can bite, they’d rather eat. They tend to seek out anything that contains cellulose. This includes wooden beams, drywall, and paper products commonly found in households.

Do ants eat wood like termites? 

Ants do not eat wood.  Termites can break down the cellulose in wood with the assistance of microorganisms in their digestive system, unlike ants. Ants, on the other hand, typically feed on insects, nectar, and plant sap. However, certain ant species, such as carpenter ants, may excavate nests in wood and cause damage to it, but they do not consume the wood itself.

Call In The Pros

If you find yourself in battle between ants and termites in your backyard, and you need to declare a cease-fire, it might be a good idea to seek professional help. Pest Gnome can connect you with the best local pest control services, to effectively eliminate this battle.

Main Image Credit: Worawut Prasuwan / Canva Pro / License

Harley Grandone

Harley Grandone, a writer and landscape designer, enjoys writing blogs. After 20+ years of being a landscape designer for major residential home builders like Toll Brothers, she’s delighted to combine her love of writing with her love of the industry. When not writing, she can be found in the backyard trying to devise new ways to control mosquitoes and prevent the sycamore tree's bark from clogging up the gutters.