Some species of spiders eat ants, such as black widows, lynx spiders, and some other larger spiders. However, smaller spiders, especially house spiders, cannot and do not eat ants.
Spiders are carnivores and will eat almost any animal that is small enough to be digested by the spider.
These include insects, flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, fleas, and ants. Larger spiders will even go after larger animals such as worms, snails, and smaller frogs, and even birds and lizards.
Because of their ability to eat insects that are not welcome in our homes, spiders have been classed as natural cleansers.
Do Spiders Eat Ants?
Yes, some larger spider types, including house spiders, will eat ants if the spider is large enough to consume it.
Spiders are able to catch ants with their webs, but they will also wait for them and ambush them if they can, and especially if they are large enough.
Because of their complex web system, spiders are able to capture and eat animals that are several times larger than themselves.
However, webs are often used for larger flies and other flying animals, because these animals get entangled in the webs much faster and easier.
Ants, on the other hand, do not come close to the webs that are usually higher up in the sky.
Spiders mostly use ambushing to capture ants. They will lurk in corners and in areas where ants travel to catch them. This means that spiders might have to wait for quite a long time before they’re able to catch an ant.
However, patience is a virtue and normally, a spider will be rewarded for its patience.
When ambushing an ant, a spider will use its web to conceal itself and hang from the ceiling or from another higher position. Then, when the time is right and when an unsuspecting ant comes by, the spider will pounce.
Ants are seen as an excellent source of food for spiders that are large enough to catch and eat them. Some spiders will even choose to only eat ants, because ants represent a good source of protein and an important addition to their diet.
How Do Spiders Eat Ants?
Spiders will ambush ants to capture them, and will then consume the ant bit by bit. It will first prefer to eat protein-filled parts of the ant such as the front part of the ant and its meaty parts before moving onto other parts.
Consuming an ant, or any other larger animal, can be a long process.
Ants are often larger than spiders, which means that capturing just one ant might be enough to keep the spider fed for a few days.
That’s why some spiders will only focus on catching larger animals, because these can provide them with enough nutrients to last them several days.
The process of catching the ant and then eating it has to be meticulously planned by the spider. The ambush might take several days, especially because spiders don’t have reflexes that are as fast as those of other predators of ants.
In a study made by zoologists, they put spiders and ants together in a tank to see how the relationship between the two would go. They found that spiders will indeed ambush ants and wait for them to consume them.
They also found that some spiders are specialist predators that will only focus on one type of food, such as ants.
Another interesting finding of the study was also the fact that spiders preferred to eat the frontal parts of the ant first, probably because it contained a lot of protein and more nutrients. They have to eat ants part by part and prioritize parts that give them more nutrients, but also store nutrients for later use.
And spiders also tried to consume as much of the ant as possible. They especially preferred to eat the gaster of the ant, which could contain some vital nutrients and minerals that will keep spiders fed for several days or even weeks.
Why Do Spiders Eat Ants?
Spiders will eat ants because they’re very nutritious and can keep them satiated for several days in advance.
Ants might be one of the preferred types of food for many spiders out there, especially for larger spiders like the black widow. Some spiders will even have a diet that consists only of one type of food, in this case, ants.
Spiders will also eat ants because they’re not as hard to catch – spiders are often faster than ants and have faster reflexes, even though they’re not as fast as some other carnivorous predators that might rival spiders.
To catch ants, spiders will use their ambushing skills to wait for the ant and then pounce when ready. This will take a lot of patience and also a great deal of planning, but the end result can be very satisfying for the spider.
Another reason why spiders go for ants often is because ants are available in abundance, especially in households where ants enter through smaller gaps, and also in the wild where ants are easily available.
For spiders, ants provide a good meal and a lot of essential nutrients, especially protein.
Speaking of nutrients, ants contain a lot of protein but also other minerals and vitamins, which can be highly important for the spider, especially because these nutrients are not easily available in nature and in other animals of prey.
RELATED SPIDER DIET FACTS:
Ants are one of the primary types of food for many spiders, especially for the larger spiders. It provides the spider with ample nutrients to help them survive for several days, and the ant is also easy enough to catch with proper planning. For these reasons, you’ll find many types of spiders that will eat only ants.