In every group of ants, there are members that go out to look for food. They are known as the worker ants because they are strong and can attack, kill and eat other insects like roaches. They also take food back to their nests so that the queen and other small ants can find something to eat.
Ants can eat cockroaches because they are a rich source of proteins. While most ants at home feed on dead roaches, fire ants can attack and eat them alive. Most ants are omnivorous meaning that they can eat plants and meat. However, the imported red fire ants are very aggressive and they can easily prey on other insects and bugs.
While most ants like meat, there are some species that do not concentrate on fleshy meals. This means that they are not likely to feed on other insects like roaches even if they are dead. They will go for greens I.e plants and vegetables. The leafcutter ant is a perfect example of species that does not concentrate on other insects.
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Ants that eat cockroaches
Most ants can eat cockroaches but will always take advantage of the dead ones. This is because while still alive, roaches can also detect danger and defend themselves. If they are attacked, they will respond by fleeing and this can easily distract most ants since an ant cannot outrun a roach. Here are some indoor ants that are known to attack and eat cockroaches:
1. Fire ants
The most notorious species that are known to attack and eat roaches both indoors and outdoors are the fire ants (red ants). They do not spare any crawling insects or animals that stand in their way especially when they are migrating. Even a single fire ant can still attack a huge roach while it waits for backup.
In most cases, the presence of a single red ant in an area means that there are several nearby. If it is aggressive enough to attack, it means that it is sure of help from the rest which will easily pick up its pheromones. Fire ants always move in colonies especially during the cold seasons while looking for warm habitats.
2. Meat ants
Meat ants can also bite and eat cockroaches if they come across them. When they are hungry, meat ants are very aggressive. Even though they do not sting, they can bite and tear into their prey with ease because their mouthparts are well designed for that.
When grease ants are moving as a colony and they lack food they can even attack roaches in cracks and dark areas. They will simply go in and attack and since roaches do not like intruders in their hiding areas, most of them will take off while the ants will kill and eat their weak ones.
3. Grease ants
Grease ants can feed on cockroaches because they like food that is rich in proteins. Roaches provide that even if they are dead and this is why you will always find those tiny yellow-like ants all over a dead roach. These ants will also eat other dead insects around the house and they can easily infest your home in large numbers because they have a variety to feed on at home.
During the cold seasons, grease ants will move indoors in search of warmth and food. Since roaches also like meaty and oily foods, they like preying on them. They can also attack old or young roaches that are too weak to defend themselves. If the roach is from crawling on sweet oily food, it is at a high risk of being trailed and eaten.
4. Argentine ants
Argentine ants will only eat dead roaches and that is only when they are extremely hungry with nothing to eat. They are omnivorous in nature but they prefer sugary and tasty food. Therefore they are likely to go for tasty meals in your houses like sugary juice tea, honey, and oily tasty food.
Naturally, Argentine ants will not attack roaches as the army ants do. In fact, they have been observed to avoid other insects unless they are attacked and are forced to fight back. They can also prey on other insects if there is nothing to eat in the house. Keeping your house clean is a good way of natural control because pests are likely to turn on each other for survival.
5. Carpenter ants
Carpenter ants can eat roaches whether they are dead or alive because they love protein. While outdoors, they can attack other insects and feed on them. If they come into your home, they can eat almost anything from dead insects to sugary meals and vegetables. They do not mind crawling on dirty dishes or spilled food on the floor while scavenging for food.
As compared to other insects, carpenter ants are relatively huge and they have the ability to attack indoor pests like roaches. They have mouth parts that can bite and kill their prey. However, they rarely attack humans unless they are provoked and they have an urge to defend themselves. They are also less likely to attack your pets but they can eat their food if left uncovered.
Do ants keep cockroaches away?
As much as ants can kill and eat cockroaches, they cannot be relied on to keep roaches away. Ants will only eat roaches for survival when they are hungry. They do not come indoors to specifically hunt the roaches down. Therefore, you cannot say that ants can keep roaches away.
If there is plenty to eat for both ants and roaches, it is rare to see ants and roaches fighting each other for survival. They will both keep off each other and will focus on the food. They only attack each other if the house is extra clean with nothing to eat. Roaches will also eat dead ants if that is all they can find when they lack food.
The ants can keep roaches away is a myth based on the fact that ants can attack cockroaches. So some will argue that introducing ants can help. This is worn and you should never introduce other pests in your house when dealing with another. They can only end up multiply and this may be another pest battle that you don’t want to fight.
Do cockroaches eat ants?
On the other hand, roaches can also eat ants but only if they are dead. They can never attack live the live ones because ants can bite or sting while defending themselves. Ants may be tiny but they are good at fighting back. Therefore, cockroaches can only eat dead ants if they find any.
If a roach happens to attack a group of ants that are alive, it can be easily overpowered by stings and bites. Ants are good at working together and a colony of them can easily overpower other insects and bugs that are a threat to them.
Old and young roaches are always vulnerable to ants because they are desperate for food. Therefore, they will even try to eat live ants and that is when they get attacked and killed in the process. A single ant can also signal the rest of the colony when it is in danger and this way, a roach may not stand a chance of killing and eating it especially if a colony is around.
- University of California Press: Ants and animal behavior
- University of Minnesota Extension: Carpenter ants biology