Bed bugs have natural predators which can be used as a pest control methods. Usually, commercial and DIY pest control remedies prove to be more effective than natural methods for bed bug eradication.
But sometimes even the most preferred bed bug control methods may prove ineffective and you may want go for natural bed bug eaters. So, the question is. Do ants eat bed bugs?
Short answer, YES – While some ant species kill and eat bed bugs for food, most of them scavenge on carcasses of bed bugs. However, they usually don’t hunt them down for their food. Ants mainly feed on sweet foods especially honeydew, and will only eat bed bugs and other small creatures to get some protein in their diet.
Which Ant Species Eat Bed Bugs?
With over 1000 different ant species, you expect that they too look different and exhibit varying traits. Yeah, some are small, and some are big. Colors will range from red to black.
Notably, ants differ in their feeding behaviors. They don’t all feed on similar things. And while some will hunt and kill their prey, most ants prefer to scavenge on dead creatures. But do ants actually eat bed bugs? So let’s take a look at some ant species.
1. Do Pharaoh Ants Eat Bed Bugs?
Pharaoh ants will feed a variety of foods, especially sweet stuff like honeydew. Their diet also includes other insects including bed bugs. They are small in size, about 1/16 inch long and have a light yellow-brown color.
Since they prefer to stay indoors, these ants will kill bed bugs and feed on them. However, they reproduce as quickly as the bed bug themselves. So, you can imagine having a colony of ants to help you eradicate bed bugs.
2. Do Carpenter Ants Eat Bed Bugs?
These are black large ants and very common in the US. They actually don’t feed on wood as their name depicts. The holes they excavate in wood are for laying eggs, storing food and living.
Carpenter ants usually stay indoors and will feed on a wide variety of food, especially leftovers. However, they also feed on carcasses of insects inside the house and even outdoors.
They feed by sucking the fluid inside the insect, and leaving the carcass intact. Simply speaking, carpenter ants will not hunt for bed bugs in your house. They however feed on their dead carcasses. Although they have a sting, they don’t use it for hunting.
3. Do Argentine Ants Eat Bed Bugs?
These are very small ants, stretching about 1/10 of an inch at maximum. Their color ranges from dark brown to black. Unlike many ant species, Argentine ants will not make deep nest to live in.
They live in crevices in walls, wood and other surfaces. They feed on different things, especially sweet foods.
Their protein diet is mainly composed of carcasses of dead insects, including bed bugs. Since they lack stingers, these ants will neither hunt nor kill bed bugs.
4. Do Red Imported Fire Ants Eat Bed Bugs?
As their name depicts, fire ants are worse creatures to have around. Their bite contains a venom which causes intense pain and can cause anaphylaxis in some people.
Being omnivorous, these ants will feed on any food including carcasses of animals and insects. Although they prefer to scavenge on dead bodies, they will feed on small insects including bed bugs whenever they come across them.
After killing the bed bug, they either drain the carcass of its internal fluids or drag it back to their nest. As scavengers, fire ants are therefore not likely to hunt bed bugs.
5. Do Asian Needle Ants Eat Bed Bugs?
This is another ant species that is known for killing and eating small insects. They are very fond of termites but will also kill and eat bed bugs whenever they get a chance.
Similar to the Red Imported Fire Ants, these ants have an extremely venomous sting capable of instigating an anaphylactic shock in some people. This venom makes it easier for them to kill or paralyze their prey.
Although their diet is composed of mainly termites, they eat a great deal of, arthropods, bed bugs and other invertebrates. They paralyze their prey before dragging it back to their nest for later.
6. Do European Fire Ants Eat Bed Bugs?
These ants are known for their aggressiveness and their venomous sting. They are however not as widespread in the U.S. as the Red Imported Fire Ants. Their diet is mainly composed of sweet food like honeydew, but will also feed on small creatures including bed bugs to get some protein.
They are very defensive and will attack and sting any creature that comes near their nest, including humans. They get their prey by immobilizing it with their venom before they can drag it back to the colony.
Limitations for Ants in Controlling Bed Bugs
You have heard instances where natural predators have been successfully used to eradicate pest infestation. While some ants are natural predators for bed bugs, they cannot be relied on because of the following limitations:
1. Bed Bugs are Elusive
Bed bugs are quite elusive and will hide in very narrow and dark places where there’s minimal disturbance. Unlike ants, bed bugs have a flat body that allows them to fit and hide in small cracks.
In addition, bed bugs come out to feed at night, meaning ants have little chances of getting them.
2. Ants are Pesky Pests
Similar to bed bugs, ants are pesky pests you don’t want to have around your premises. Although they don’t feed on people, they are much irritating in several other ways. Such nuisance may include:
- Damaging wooden furniture and structures.
- Foraging on your food.
- Some have a venomous sting which may cause intense pain and anaphylaxis in some people.
- They are nagging when they crawl around the house.
In addition, these creatures reproduce rapidly, meaning they can easily become an infestation. Plus they live in hidden places, making it hard to eradicate.
3. They Cause Damage in Your Home
When inside your house, ants will cause unimaginable damage. One of the most disastrous ant is the carpenter ant which excavates wooden things to make nest for living and breeding.
Some ants will force themselves into tiny cracks such as in floorboards and baseboards, gradually causing those spaces to widen and lose their splendour. Similar to bed bugs, some ants hide in electronics, which may present a fire risk in your house due to short-circuit.
What’s more, damage can include even the waste they dumb out of their colony.
4. Cost of Eradicating Ants is High
The cost of eradicating ants is much higher than if you had to use DIY remedies or hire an exterminator to eradicate bed bugs. If you get ants to feed on bed bugs, they will reproduce rapidly, eventually becoming an infestation.
Therefore you’ll incur extra costs in DIY pest remedies or in hiring a professional exterminator to get rid of them.
5. Ants Might Become an Infestation
Ants find it east to colonize new areas rather than fighting for limited resources. So if you get ants to eradicate bed bugs in your house, they might split into colonies and shift in various locations.
When there’re many colonies of ants in your compound, you might end up having an infestation which is hard and costly to eradicate.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs & Ants
Both ants and bed bugs present varying difficulties in eradicating. Thus, if you have the two infestations, you’ll need to invest in different approaches to eradicate them.
The size and shape of bed bugs makes it easy to hide in very narrow crevasses, where they live and breed rapidly. This makes it difficult to completely eradicate each and every bed bug even with the best pesticide in the market.
In addition, bed bugs reproduce rapidly, up to 4 generations in twelve months. That means, a few bed bugs can become an infestation within a very short period. Plus they can stay for long without feeding.
However, with the best pest eradication strategies, it is possible to significantly reduce their numbers or eradicate completely. Bed bug treatment should entail the following:
- Minimizing the spread by vacuuming infested things.
- Heat treatment targeting bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle.
- Use of the most effective pesticides in the market such as boric acid, silica gel and diatomaceous earth.
- If the infestation is beyond your control, you should call a professional exterminator to assess and determine the correct bed bug treatment to use.
Ants are equally hard to eradicate especially due to their tendency to exist in large colonies. A single colony can have up to hundreds of thousands of ants, meaning it is hard eliminate all of them at a go.
Secondly, ants build their nests in hidden places away from human interference. Thus, it may be difficult to locate each and every hideout and kill every ant. Since ants are very industrious, there will be so many of them foraging for food outside the colony. So, even if you bombed their colony, there’ll be survivors to start and build a new colony.
However, this does not mean that it’s impossible to eradicate ants. With a proper pest control plan, it’s possible to get the job done even without the help of an expert. This may include:
- Assessment of the extent of the infestation.
- Use pesticides to destroy their nests and colonies.
- Clear any trash and food debris that may attract ants to your house.
- Create repellent barriers at any possible entry point using, talcum powder or any other effective chemical.
- Be on the lookout for new infestations so as to act on them promptly.
While some ant species can kill and eat bed bugs, they are not a reliable method for eradicating bed bugs. Usually, ants don’t go hunting down bed bugs.
They prefer sweet food like honeydew and will only eat bed bugs to get a protein meal. In addition, most ant species are not predators. They scavenge on carcasses for their food.