Army Ants: Traits, Bites, Habitat & Control

Army Ants

Delve into the intricate world of army ants within our natural tapestry. These relentless creatures exhibit extraordinary adaptability in diverse ecosystems.

Marching across forests and plains, army ants emerge as nature’s envoys. Their diet, focused on relentless foraging, sharpens their skills for survival in ever-changing landscapes.

Confronting challenges, army ants unveil a distinct strategy. They harmonize movement and rest, ensuring their resilience even amid adversity.

Fascinatingly, these ants orchestrate a symphony of cooperation. In abundance, they unite for efficient hunting. In scarcity, their unity endures, sustaining the colony.

Army ants epitomize adaptation and collective strength. They urge us to recognize their vital role in the ecological web. Amid the wilderness, honoring army ants and their contribution to nature’s harmony is paramount.

What Do Army Ants Look Like?

Army ants, known as Eciton spp, possess distinctive traits that set them apart:

  • Size and Build: These ants vary in size, ranging from small to large. Their bodies are robust and adapted for relentless movement.
  • Head and Body: Army ants feature a clear division between the head and thorax, connected by a noticeable constriction.
  • Mandibles: Their mandibles are formidable, used for capturing prey and building temporary nests.
  • Legs and Claws: With long legs and sharp claws, they navigate various terrains and secure their grip on surfaces.
  • Coloration: Army ants sport hues of reddish-brown to dark brown, aiding in camouflage during their nomadic journeys.
  • Dynamic Adaptations: Their appearance reflects their versatile lifestyle, crucial for survival in ever-changing environments.

Army Ant Queen

The army ant queen is a central figure in the colony’s hierarchy, and her significance goes beyond her size. She is the primary egg layer, responsible for populating the colony with new members.

Unlike other ant species, where queens have wings only during the mating phase, army ant queens retain their wings throughout their lives, enabling them to initiate new colonies independently.

This unique trait gives army ant queens the ability to establish satellite colonies, contributing to the colony’s expansion and dominance in their environment.

Her remarkable reproductive capacity and strategic dispersal underscore the intricate evolutionary adaptations that have allowed army ants to thrive as efficient and relentless predators across various ecosystems.

Where Do Army Ants Live?

Army Ants

Army ants, belonging to the Eciton genus, inhabit diverse tropical regions across the Americas. They establish temporary nests in a variety of environments:

  • Tropical Rainforests: These ants thrive in the lush undergrowth of rainforests, where their nomadic lifestyle aids in locating prey.
  • Forest Floors: These ants are commonly found on the forest floor, where their large swarms scour the ground for food.
  • Underground Burrows: Some species construct temporary underground nests for protection and shelter during rest periods.
  • Temporary Shelters: They create bivouacs using their bodies, clinging together to form a living shelter.
  • Dynamic Mobility: Their ever-moving nature enables them to traverse different habitats, avoiding harsh conditions.

Whether navigating rainforests, and forest floors or crafting temporary shelters, army ants’ adaptability ensures their survival in the diverse landscapes they call home.

What Do Army Ants Eat?

They are voracious predators with a diet primarily consisting of other insects and small invertebrates. Their relentless hunting behavior and nomadic lifestyle contribute to their varied and opportunistic diet:

  • Insects and Arthropods: They prey on a wide range of insects, including beetles, spiders, caterpillars, and termites.
  • Small Vertebrates: They can also consume small vertebrates like lizards, frogs, and even birds.
  • Eggs and Larvae: They raid the nests of other insects to feed on their eggs and larvae.
  • Invertebrates: Snails, worms, and other invertebrates are also on the menu for these predatory ants.
  • Pupae: The ant larvae are another source of nutrition for the colony.

Their cooperative hunting strategies, massive swarms, and aggressive foraging tactics allow them to overpower and consume various prey, making them a vital component of the ecosystem’s balance in their tropical habitats.

What Eats Army Ants?

Several predators and parasites have adapted to feed on or exploit army ants as a food source or in other ways:

  • Birds: Some bird species, like antbirds and woodpeckers, follow army ant swarms to feed on insects and small animals flushed out by the ants’ activity.
  • Mammals: Certain mammals, such as anteaters and primates like tamarins and marmosets, take advantage of these ants as they flush out insects from hiding places.
  • Reptiles: Some reptiles, including lizards and snakes, feed on insects and small creatures disturbed by these ants during their raids.
  • Amphibians: Frogs and toads can prey on insects fleeing from the foraging ants.
  • Parasites: Certain parasitic flies lay their eggs on army ants. When the eggs hatch, the fly larvae attach themselves to the ants and are carried back to the colony. They then feed on the ant larvae and pupae.
  • Other Insects: Various insect species might exploit their resources, scavenging on the remains of the ants’ prey or utilizing the ants’ foraging trails for their own benefit.
  • Antlions: The larvae of antlions set up traps in the sand to capture ants, including army ants, that happen to stumble into their pitfall traps.

While they are formidable predators themselves, their nomadic and highly visible behavior during raids attracts a range of organisms that have learned to take advantage of the chaos and exposed prey.

Army Ants Bite

Have you ever wondered about the formidable bite of army ants? With their aggressive nature, do these tiny creatures possess a bite that packs a punch? 

Let’s delve into their defensive strategy and explore the impact of their bites.

They are known for their powerful mandibles and aggressive behavior, allowing them to deliver painful bites. When threatened or disturbed, they can bite as a defensive mechanism. 

Can Army Ants Kill Humans?

They may not specifically target humans, but their collective strength is undeniable. These bites can be quite painful to humans and other creatures, as their mandibles are designed to hold onto prey and tear through insect exoskeletons.

Army ant bites can cause discomfort, pain, and sometimes mild swelling or irritation at the site of the bite. 

While their bites are not typically dangerous, they are a clear warning to stay away from these highly mobile and aggressive insects. It’s important to exercise caution and avoid provoking army ants to prevent getting bitten.

How To Get Rid Of Army Ants?

Tired of these relentless intruders disrupting your space? Fear not, for there are strategies to reclaim control.

Let’s embark on the journey to bid adieu to army ants:

  • Early Detection: Spot their nests swiftly. Identifying their stronghold is the first step.
  • Secure Food Sources: Cut off their sustenance. Seal food tightly, denying them access.
  • Natural Barriers: Employ nature’s defense. Create barriers with substances like cinnamon, vinegar, or chalk.
  • Strategic Baiting: Set bait traps with care. Non-toxic options can reduce their numbers effectively.
  • Destroy Nests: With caution, dismantle nests. This weakens their force and disrupts their unity.
  • Professional Aid: If the situation escalates, enlist pest control experts. They possess targeted solutions.
  • Persistent Vigilance: Consistency prevails. Maintain chosen tactics until signs of victory emerge.


In the intricate realm of army ants, their tenacious adaptability shines. From diverse ecosystems to their powerful bites, these creatures command attention. While their nomadic foraging and bites are formidable, understanding their ecological significance adds to their mystique. 

As we navigate their world, admiration grows for their resilience and integral role. Whether in forests or plains, their relentless march shapes ecosystems. Safeguarding our spaces from their intrusion requires strategic vigilance. 

With unwavering determination, we bid farewell to their disruption, embracing the triumph of human resilience. In the delicate dance of nature, army ants persist, a testament to life’s enduring harmony.