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When termites invade your home and start feasting on your wood structures and furniture, there is really no better cause for action than to turn to chemicals to destroy them – but there are natural predators of termites. Termites always start in the wild and then seek out moisture and wood, which sometimes leads them to people’s homes.
Most termites make their colonies in the wilderness, usually in rotted or moist trees and organic matter rich in cellulose, so for the termites that invade human dwellings, they usually fair a lot better in your home than they would in the wilderness.
Do Termites Have a Natural Predator?
Over three to four years, certain termites in a colony will grow wings and begin to fly looking for a mate to start a new colony. In the wild, these winged alates are prone to predation by a wide variety of animals and other insects, which can usually account for why termites usually end up in the safety and security of people’s homes. Termite predators are widespread and for the sake of argument and knowledge, if you see swarming termites near your home, it may be useful to know what eats termites.
Insects That Eat Termites
Termite predators range large and small, and it may be surprising to know that some of their most dangerous predators are from their very own species. The first and most obvious answer would be to point out the possible predators against termites in and around your home. If you own a large home, there is a remote possibility that there may be a spider’s nest at least somewhere and arachnids (not an insect – but close) love to seek out termites in a home due to the easiness of finding a meal.
If there aren’t enough flying insects to land in a spider’s web, the spider will leave the web and search for food sources. Seeking out termites makes for an easy meal as the spider will simply bite the termite and paralyze it, making it easy to drag back to its web. Although it likely will not add much comfort in knowing that both termites and spiders are in your home, spiders do actively kill and eat termites, making for an unorthodox form of reverse pest control.
If there is one sworn enemy of sorts against termites, it is most certainly ants. Ants and termites share a similar anatomy, as well as behaviors such as colonies with workers, soldiers, and a queen. Like spiders, it may not be comfortable in considering ants as a form of termite control – since ants most bring their own set of problems within a home – but ants are forceful and combative creatures that will attack and pillage a termite colony.
Ants will not only attack termites; they will also eat them. Soldier ants typically invade termite colonies and their only real competition is between soldier termites. Since termites are blind, the attack is almost always in the ants favor and ants will typically destroy a colony much quicker than spiders.
For termites in the wild, the predation threat from other insects is very high. Crickets will attack and eat termites who are foraging around a home, as will ladybugs, beetles, scorpions and any other lawn and garden pest that outsizes a termite, including their own close relative – the praying mantis. Most predators seek out flying termites where flies, wasps, dragonflies, and even defensive bees will kill flying termites.
What Animals Eat Termites?
Moving away from the insect kingdom, there are many mammals that seek out and eat termites as well. This is a question with many possible answers, and it may be surprising to know that in certain nations, even humans dine on termites. In many nations, termites are a human delicacy and can even provide medicinal benefits. But in the wild, there are many animals that will dine on termites.
If termites are in your home, the most obvious animal that would likely seek out and eat termites are cats. Even if they choose not to eat termites, the chances are very high that cats will find a termite colony and attack and kill scurrying termites. Although you would likely not have lizards and geckos roaming around your home freely, these animals will also eat termites if given the chance to find them.
For subterranean termites, underground animals pose a threat when considering animals that eat termites. Moles live mostly underground and termites are an easy food source for these elusive animals. Although not indicative of North America, anteaters will also seek out termites and devour entire colonies once discovered.
Birds are perhaps one of the most dangerous termite predators in the wild as they will seek out flying termites with razor-sharp precision and decimate an entire swarm. Even primates take it one step further by making tools to extract termites for food – a truly industrious method in the discovery of what eats termites. Larger animals usually only eat termites if they happen to find them and will mostly set their targets on more substantial food sources.
Reptiles are also another group of animals that eat termites. Around your home the most likely reptile to dine on termites would be frogs, who will actively seek out insects such as termites. Many species of lizards and amphibians will also eat termites if they come across them – proving that a termites journey to your home is a perilous one.
What Eats Termites Specifically in North America?
When assessing termite predators in North America, the obvious enemy and predator of termites is ants. As previously mentioned, ants are very similar to termites in both physicality, social behavior, and composition. Ants are very dominant and aggressive insects that will seek out termite colonies and destroy them to mark their surrounding territory specifically for themselves; ants also use termites as food source.
Birds are likely the second most popular North American predator against termites. In all the different animals that eat termites, birds are the most relentless in decimating a swarm of flying termites if they are spotted. Nearly all bird types will eat termites if they spot them.
For subterranean termites, moles are the fiercest predator that termites will contend with when foraging for food sources. Moles will eat termites in rapid succession and will not likely let a colony get away due to moles having a small supply of food sources to choose from. Ants, birds, and moles pose the most serious threat of predation against termites in North America.
Termites are a horrid nuisance to homeowners and the battle against them is made even more difficult due to their ability to hide inside of the structures they are eating. It may be surprising to know that termites undergo a dangerous and uncertain journey before they ever manage to make it to a person’s home. There are many natural predators both in the wild and even inside of a person’s home that attack and eat termites.
The most surprising predator against termites is other insects, and there are a wide variety of fellow insects that eat termites. Ants are the sworn enemy of termites and this is likely due to their similar taxonomy and behaviors. Ants will seek out termite colonies and attack and eat termites and completely take over a termite colony.
Spiders are also predators of termites, and some insects in a home’s lawn and garden will also feast on termites. In the animal kingdom, humans are an interesting example of termite predators along with primates. There are many natural predators who use termites as food source and even if the results of the list are surprising, at the very least, this list can put into perspective the termite journey on their way to your home.