Hornets and ants are deadly fighters due to their aggressive nature and potential to sting an invader when they feel a threat to their survival.
Can Ants Kill Hornets? Ants can kill hornets rarely when a swarm of these ants attacks brutally to deal with an invader interfering with their food resources, colonies, aphids, and territory. These belong to the same order Hymenoptera but engaged in a negative relationship. Asian giant and Northern giant hornets are dangerous species that can efficiently defend against attack.
These two insects belonging to the order Hymenoptera are territorial by nature and do not tolerate any interference from insects from the same or different species.
What is the relationship between ants and hornets?
Ants and hornets belong to the same order Hymenoptera having many similar physical and behavioral characteristics, including body segments, social behavior, and fighting strategies.
However, they have different families in the phylogenetic classification, as the former belongs to Formicidae while hornets are included in the Vespidae.
The members of both groups are social creatures that prefer to live together in colonies by building a nest under the ground or above it. Commonly, they are all stinging pests and possess a stinger.
In addition, they are territorial and build their colonies at a distance of several feet from each other. They can aggressively attack members of the same species if they invade the territory.
Accordingly, you can see them fighting if they are responsible for posing a threat to each other. They are closest relatives but are usually engaged in a negative relationship.
Ants are smaller than insects belonging to the Vespidae family as their bodies are only 3 to 8mm long, while the hornets can reach up to 1 inch long.
However, these tiny creatures can efficiently fight with the bigger predators if they have the risk of threat to their nests, colonies, or colony members.
Why do ants attack hornets?
They can attack hornets when these bigger insects are responsible for causing interference with their food resources or nests and stealing their eggs or adult workers.
Protect aphids or mealybugs
The hornets usually eat insects, including crickets, aphids, and other soft-bodied insects living on the plant, in addition to the nectar, tree sap, and leaves.
Moreover, they engage in a battle due to similar eating habits or food resources. Competition for access to food resources can be the reason for their fights, leading to the death of one of them.
Ants and aphids are mutually associated with each other, while these aphids are parts of Vespid’s dietary habits that prefer to eat soft-bodied insects producing honeydew.
Accordingly, you can see protective ants fighting against the invaders when they try to disturb their food source by eating aphids or other mealybugs.
Fight for resources
They can engage in a deadly fight when these territorial insects threaten their resources. It can be a risk of stealing the stored food in the nests during drought or food shortage.
The whole ant colonies hibernate in the winter and rely on the stored food resources. However, the hornets usually die in the cold winters due to a lack of food resources and cold temperatures.
Moreover, they do not find other insects and lush green plants in the winter when everything gets completely covered under a blanket of snow.
Accordingly, you can see them fighting to reach the stored resources of ants to ensure their survival; otherwise, they have to die due to a lack of energy.
Protection of territories
The choice of nesting habitats is almost similar for members of the order Hymenoptera as these tiny insects usually live in warm and humid places.
Vespids build paper nests indoors and outdoors, as they prefer to live in attics, wall voids, and hollow trees. You can see their nests in the woodlands, parks, and gardens.
Both insects prefer to build their nests close to food and water resources, and their similar choices for food and habitat create problems.
Accordingly, they can fight for a habitat when the hornet queens come out of the hibernation period in spring and choose areas close to ants’ habitat to build their nests.
Avoid threats to their survival
They can attack the colonies or nests of ants, as a few species of wasps are known to enter their colonies by masking their body odors.
Sometimes, these insects become brutal invaders by stealing their eggs and trying to kill workers. This threat to survival provokes the tiny creatures and makes them aggressive.
It results in a fatal encounter when a swarm of workers attacks the invader intending to kill it by biting or stinging its body.
What happens when ants attack hornets?
It is interesting to see ants and hornets fighting as both are equal rivals possessing the ability to bite and sting the invaders. There is only a slight difference in size and toxicity in them.
The success rate depends on opponents involved in the battle, as a large swarm of ants can efficiently kill a single predator, while a small group usually loses the war.
Moreover, almost 20 to 50 ants can kill a hornet because this bigger prey is not easy to handle by a small group of insects that cannot fly and follow it.
In the same way, some poisonous species, like bullet or velvet ants, can cause painful bites and stings as their venomous fluid can make them feel lethargic.
However, other non-poisonous insects like argentine, sugar, and acrobat ants cannot win the battle as their prey can easily defeat them.
Hornets have a smooth stinger connected with the venom gland at their abdominal end. It protects them against attacks by injecting stingers to transfer poison into prey.
They usually hunt prey in the air and try to fly away after stinging. Their venomous stings help them win the battle against smaller or non-poisonous creatures.
A swarm of ants can capture the flying insect when it reaches the ground and gets control over its wings and legs to avoid an escape. This is followed by repeated stinging and biting on its body.
What types of hornets are deadly for ants?
There are many types of hornets with different capabilities for fighting and possessing venom of varying toxicity levels. Some are more poisonous and deadly for ants during attacks.
The Asian giant hornets are bigger and more toxic by nature as they are also responsible for causing death in humans and are known as murder hornets.
The bald-faced hornet can also cause painful stings by injecting the poisonous material from venom glands into the prey bodies when fighting against them.
Northern giant hornets possess a long stinger, which means they can inject more poison into an opponent’s body than others with short stinging organs.
In addition, European hornet stings can cause severe pain for almost 20 to 24 hours in the affected area, leading to itching or swelling.
So, the deadliest of all species is the Asian giant hornet, which can potentially fight with them, but a swarm of army ants containing a million insects can capture it.
Does ant killer work on hornets?
Using ant killers for hornets is not considered suitable because they are specifically designed to deal with the tiny social insects and kill their colonies.
The chemicals in ant-killing sprays are usually in smaller quantities as a small dose is enough to deal with their colonies, which is ineffective for exterminating other insects from the house.
In addition, the active ingredients are similar for both killing sprays as they contain pyrethrum that causes paralysis of the insect.
Prallethrin and cypermethrin are also present in the killing sprays, but there is a difference in the quantities of chemicals. Hornets are strong, requiring high dosages of chemicals in sprays.
There are many different types of commercial killing sprays available for these two different insects that are designed to deal with particular kinds of pests and their nests.