Ants are omnivore insects, which means they eat anything from plants to animals.
If they come upon a newly dead worm, ants will consume it.
Predator ants, on the other hand, will attack and consume worms, whether living or dead, without hesitation.
Most ant species do not consume worms, but predatory species do.
These include army ants, fire ants, and carpenter ants.
These predatory ants possess traits that enable them to prey on small organisms such as worms.
They have strong mandibles, for example, which they use to grab prey and some produce venom to paralyze it.
Continue reading the article to answer some of your most common questions!
Can Ants and Worms Live Together?
Yes, there are species of ants that can coexist peacefully with worms.
If you like gardening and composting, you’ve probably seen how worms and ants communicate with one another.
Worms and ants both live in the soil, where organisms and nutrients are consumed, digested, and cycled.
Ants and earthworms may be seen in the same area, and even in your worm bin, since they are both looking for little pieces of food on or in the ground.
Ants may also enter the worm compost bin in search of fruit and vegetable leftovers.
On the flip side, microbes on decaying materials make up the majority of an earthworm’s diet, including dead ants.
Carpenter ants, fire ants, army ants, and harvester ants can’t live with worms and will decimate worm beds.
At best, some ants might take food that would have gone to worms otherwise, at worst, predatory ant species consume any living worms they come across in your worm bed.
Worms, on the other hand, only eat dead ants.
Most non-predatory ants don’t attack and eat worms. But they might steal food from each other, which you’ll want to try to avoid in your worm farm.
Which Species of Ants Harm or Eat Earthworms?
Most ant species do not consume worms, at least not while they are alive.
Carpenter ants, army ants, and fire ants (including the workers) are the ant species that consume worms.
Carpenter ants, often known as wood ants, are predatory ants that prey on tiny insects and occasionally other ant species.
Sometimes referred to as Wood ants – they earned their name because they make their nests on rotting wood and munch on it until it is entirely destroyed..
These ants attack and feed on several sorts of worms, therefore keeping them away from a worm composting bin is essential to keep your earthworm colony safe from a dangerous ant problem.
When these ants locate worms, they strike, paralyze, and break down their target into tiny pieces, which they then bring back to their homes.
Worms are only safe from these ants during the winter when the ants hibernate due to the freezing weather.
Carpenter ants depend on stored meals to survive the winter during this period.
What draws Carpenter Ants into a house?
Carpenter ants are skilled at locating hiding places in your house.
Wood and food may attract insect infestations from these ants.
During the colder months, these ants also hibernate, so you shouldn’t see any during this period in your house.
As a result, after they fall asleep, the whole colony does not eat or drink anything till spring.
To survive the winter, they rely on the fats stored inside their bodies.
This implies that worm beds are secure from these predatory ants only during the winter.
When carpenter ants awaken, they may resume feeding on worms, aphids, wood, and other insects. So, keep your worm bin secure!
Army ants are among the most feared type of ant in nature.
They are considered threatening to many animals in the wild.
They have large and sharp jaws and eat considerably larger creatures than themselves, such as lizards, frogs, small infant birds, and, in the case of this article, worms…and even snakes are on the menu!
These ants are so loco that they will even cannibalize other ant types.
You can watch hundreds of army ants consuming a live (well, half) worm that enters their colony in the video below:
There’s a reason this video has so many views. You’ll see the ants recognizing the worm, sending info back to the rest of their colony and some coming out to attack.
The ones who came out swiftly immobilized it with their stings before cutting it into pieces, bringing it back to their queen and the rest of the family, and feeding on it.
Army ants are migratory, which is also shown in the video as they go from tube to tube. This basically means they are always on the go.
They only stay in a place for a short time when they discover a more favorable location with enough food to feed the colony.
This location, if you’re unlucky, can sometimes be your composting worm bin.
How Risky Are Army Ants?
When an army ant colony is in a migratory phase, it searches for nourishment for its hungry larvae.
It’s one of the reasons you could encounter them in compost piles with your worm composting colony.
They, like fire ants, have strong mandibles and a toxic sting, making them excellent predators.
Fire ants usually eat plants.
When the chance presents itself, they do not hesitate to swallow tiny insects and worms.
This type comes into worm compost pits when looking for a food source, which contains food leftovers that might fuel their colony.
While their primary goal is to eat vegetable leftovers, fire ants may sometimes attack and kill worms.
Fire ants are also well-adapted to kill and feed on small animals.
They have very powerful mandibles that allow them to bite and paralyze their victim.
They also have a deadly stinger at the back of their abdomen that aids in the paralysis procedure.
Why are red fire ants a concern?
Fire ants have powerful jaws, or mandibles, that enable them to bite and grip their food.
They also feature a deadly stinger at the tip of their abdomen. However, unlike bees, they may use their stinger repeatedly.
Fire ants may kill worms by injecting them with a poisonous kind of venom.
The poison immobilizes the worm, and since it is too large for them to transport, they split it into little pieces.
The whole ant colony will return to its habitat with the transportable pieces.
Will Ants Attack Worms?
Most ants won’t eat live worms, but they might eat a dead one.
Some ants hunt and will try to eat earthworms.
Ants are the biggest problem for most people who run worm farms.
Even though most ants don’t eat or attack worms, they steal food from their nests.
But it’s not a big deal for farmers who don’t mind ants eating worm food on their farms.
The problem is that some kinds of ants eat worms, and farmers have to deal with them.
How Do Ants Kill Worms?
Predatory ants have systems that allow them to effectively hunt and swallow larger species, such as worms.
For one thing, predatory ants have powerful mandibles that may bite and hold the worm in place.
They then inject poisonous venom into the prey’s body, paralyzing it and immobilizing it.
Because a worm is many times the size of an ant, predators cannot possibly transport it back to the colony completely.
As a result, ants cut the worm into smaller pieces, and all worker ants help take the meal back to their nests.
How to Protect Worms in Your Worm Farm From Ants
Ants are likely to be a common encounter if you own a worm farm.
This is due to the fact that ants seek food at random and attack any location where they may find food, such as your worm farm bedding.
Worm farms are also filled with various organic waste products, another reason why they are among the most frequent ant targets.
Ants will not only consume earthworm food, but predator ants will hunt and feast on the worms themselves.
As a result, it is essential to protect your worm farm from predatory ants by using the following techniques:
Increase the Moisture Level of Your Worm Farm – Ants dislike water, so re-wet your system to keep them away from your worm farm.
This will assist you in increasing the moisture level in your compost containers.
Ants will grow less interested in your worm farm as you re-wet your system on a regular basis.
If you see a lot of ants on your farm, it might mean that your system is too dry.
Applying a layer of sticky material to the worm bins exterior and interior walls can help.
This way, you can prevent ants’ attempts to enter your worms home.
Petroleum jelly or tanglefoot could be the source of this sticky material.
Apply plenty on the edges of the bins to prevent ants from climbing up.
This procedure is risk-free since jelly contains no chemicals or things that may hurt the worms.
Because the stickiness will gradually wear off, it is best to reapply on a regular basis.
Applying diatomaceous earth over worm bedding will prevent ants from entering your worm farm and consuming their food source..or them
This is because diatomaceous earth is strong enough to kill ants and thus functions as an ant barrier.
This material is a chalk-like powder made from the shells of old sea algae called diatoms.
The shells contain silica, which is a well-known pesticide.
If diatomaceous earth comes into touch with an ant, it will absorb the ant’s fluids and finally dehydrate the ant to death.
What Role Do Ants Play in The Ecosystem?
Ants and worms are important members of the ecosystem.
They both have a substantial impact on the soil’s physical, biological, and chemical qualities.
These may also have an impact on the habitat and activity of other living species in the soil ecosystem.
What Do Ants Do to Help the Environment?
However, there are differences between the two in terms of their roles in the ecosystem.
Ants hunt on pests, but worms provide food for other ecosystem actors such as predatory ants.
Because of this, both of them help the environment in their own way.
In summary of this post, most ants can coexist with worms.
However, other ants, such as carpenter ants, fire ants, and army ants, will hunt worms.
Ants are insects that eat both vegetation and dead animals, therefore their diets include a remarkable variety of foods.
Ants may also consume larger creatures such as worms.
Worm-eating ants have powerful jaws that may keep the worm in place as well as a neurotoxic sting.
Ants will, without question, consume a rotting worm if they found it on the ground.
There are many ways of keeping these ants away from your worms when maintaining your worm bed or when gardening.
Raise the amount of moisture in your worm farm by re-wetting your system on a regular basis to prevent worms coming up against these sorts of ants.
But not so much that the worms try to escape.
You may also use petroleum jelly on the edges of the bin to keep ants out of your worm farm.
You may prevent ant colonies from taking over your worm farm by removing an ant’s pheromone trail.
To get rid of them, you can also pour boiling water on the colony but we don’t recommend this unless the ants are a real problem, invading your composting bins.
Our advice is to try and keep them separate where possible, so they can both do their jobs and the existence of both creatures won’t matter to your composting efforts.
We hope you got the answer to your question, “do ants eat worms” and leave with more knowledge. Or, stick around and learn more!
For more knowledge, read also: