Are There Good Bugs That Fight Ants?
When it comes to the ongoing battle between humans and ants, there’s no contest—ants already won. We humans have plenty of tricks up our sleeves but ants are built to last. There are some critters though that have an innate, insect-based understanding of ants. Assassin bugs, spiders, and nematodes meet and defeat their enemy and help make a dent in the massive population of ants crawling the earth.
The assassin impales ants with its mouth part, sucks their bodies dry, and some species even throw their crusty corpses up on its back. There are pictures on the web showing a creepy looking assassin bug walking nonchalantly down a leaf with a backpack made of at least a dozen ants, stacked just so. The massive back pile of assassin-anted critters seems gratuitously evil but like all things in nature, there’s a purpose to this killer concept. The dead ants provide camouflage, both visual and olfactory. And they provide protective armor from the assassin’s enemies. Like most things in nature, the 7,000 species of assassin bugs worldwide have their own assassins to worry about.
Unfortunately, you can’t purchase assassin bugs to let loose in your garden; but you can attract the mini-executioners. Unlike many assassins, the little guys love flowers, especially delicate ones. If you plant Queen Anne’s lace, daisies, fennel, alfalfa, or dill, you might attract assassin bugs to your garden.
Compared to assassin bugs, spiders are absolutely boring. Black widow spiders and wolf spiders will track down ants and eat them. Web-spinners will eat ants caught in their silky traps and there are some type of spider present in almost every outdoor environment. If you don’t spray pesticides around the garden, the spiders will find your ants.
Beneficial nematodes are definitely at the bottom of the Ant-Killer Excitement Index. These critters would look like non-segmented round worms if you viewed them from a microscope. But even though you can’t see them, nematodes are considered biological insecticide. They target ants, flees, grubs, and maggots in a deliciously sinister way. Nematodes enter ants through various body openings and even through the insect’s cuticle. Once inside, the nematodes release a toxic bacterium which kills the ant dead in a few days. After the ant croaks, the nematodes move on to the next victim. You can try to attract beneficial nematodes to your garden with compost, mulch and biodiversity - or you can buy beneficial nematodes online and wait for the ants to disappear.