Nature’s Ant Control Crew

Skinks, armadillos, wrens, catbirds, and Northern flickers are among the local Tennessee animals that eat ants.

Ants can become a nuisance when they become overpopulated, and invasive fire ants— which aren’t a natural part of our ecosystem and can carry a particularly nasty sting— are especially frustrating to deal with. Thankfully, we have lots of wild animals who help keep the populations of ant colonies in check!

Native lizards, especially skinks, eat ants as a main staple of their diets. Gray catbirds, along both of our native wren species, also eat lots of ants, particularly in early summer, when they’re an important food source for growing baby birds.

Out of all of our local wildlife, the two champion ant exterminator species are the Northern flicker and nine-banded armadillo. Northern flickers are among the few birds that will actually dig into the ground to eat ants, using its long barbed tongue to collect larvae and eggs in addition to adults. Armadillos, which are close relatives of anteaters, are also ant vacuums, slurping up thousands of them in one feeding and able to completely ignore their bites and stings.

My son once asked me if animals that like to eat fireants think they taste spicy, sour, or sweet, and it was one of the few times I heard an animal question from one of my kids that I couldn’t answer. Let me know what you think! 😜 🐜

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