Many snail farmers are afraid of ants in their farms, particularly when long trails of these insects are moving toward them. Their fear is genuine, as these ants can be deadly for their pets.
Can Ants Kill Snails? Ants can kill snails because they are a rich source of proteins for these tiny insects in addition to other essential elements and vitamin A. Their shells contain calcium, while their bodies provide iron and minerals. They secrete foamy material to deter invaders, but ants use stingers or mandibles to kill them.
Snails have beautiful shells commonly used for decorative purposes, while terrestrial species are a good source of nutrients for humans.
In addition, they can also become a nutrient-rich food source for insects, birds, mice, or other animals in nature, so it is challenging to protect them from attacks.
Why do ants kill snails?
Ants prefer to eat invertebrates and smaller vertebrates in addition to insects, as they are easy to chew and digest due to the absence of bones.
Most commonly, these tiny insects attack every possible prey in their surroundings or territory, including spiders, earthworms, scorpions, squids, etc., which are all invertebrates.
The carnivorous ant species depend more on snails and other related invertebrates as they prefer animal-based food to meet their body requirements, while others have a sweet tooth.
They are a good source of nutrition for these tiny insects because their bodies provide complex proteins and fats in addition to other nutrients like vitamin A.
A spiral-shaped shell is present on their bodies that protect against attacks as they can hide by retracting their soft bodies inside.
It is made of calcium carbonate and changes its shape and size according to the body size, which means a bigger one provides more calcium to insects.
In addition, they commonly kill snails to eat their bodies, but their prey does not attack their mounds, eggs, and other adult members to eat them.
Accordingly, there is no fight for defense by ants, but the snails have to avoid these stinging pests to save their lives. They can attack and kill them to devour their bodies into small pieces.
Moreover, the predatory insects eat both live and dead mollusks without worrying about killing the live ones, as they have their own strategies to kill the bigger prey.
How do ants kill snails?
Ants have extraordinary warfare skills to deal with bigger prey animals, providing enough courage to engage themselves in a war and win the battle.
This war occurs when they want to keep predators away from nests or need something from their opponents. Accordingly, they kill snails for food, particularly when they need protein.
In addition, these mollusks prefer to hide inside the shell, as they can survive inside the shell for many days and show no movement for long.
A swarm of these insects can overpower a snail even if it tries to resist the bites and stings because these can get inside their hard shells.
However, these tiny creatures can easily reach inside the shells as they need a small space to sneak through them. They make use of mandibles to pierce their soft bodies and cause injuries.
These bites can be painful sometimes, depending on the species of ants attacking the prey. So, they can die if these biting insects heavily injure their bodies.
In addition, some species possess a stinger on their abdominal ends to transfer poison into the prey’s body. This stinging organ enters deep into the skin and passes poison into the bloodstream.
The toxins or poisonous molecules can cause interference in natural metabolic processes or other internal functions, ultimately causing death.
How does a snail protect itself against ants?
It is pretty challenging for a snail to avoid ants or other tiny creatures that can reach inside its shells, but it never loses hope and fights for survival.
Moreover, the average body length of an adult snail is around 22 to 30mm, while these tiny insects are only 3 to 7mm on average, or a few can reach 25mm.
A difference in their body size indicates that it is not possible for 1 or 2 ants to kill this mollusk having an unsegmented body.
One of their common defensive strategies is to hide inside their shell by retracting soft bodies within the hard calcium carbonate shell that is equal in size to their bodies.
In addition, they can produce a foamy or slimy substance from their mouth that is probably mucus for protection against predator attacks.
This slime layer keeps them moist in dry conditions and helps deter insects because they avoid sticky material. However, it is commonly seen in larger mollusks, like a Roman snail.
So, they make every possible effort to resist the damage from insects and efficiently keep them away if only a few of these insects exist.
However, they have to surrender or face failure in the form of death when a swarm of insects attacks at once on different regions of their bodies.
A small group of almost 20 to 100 ants can kill smaller snails ranging in size between 3 to 10mm, while their number increases up to 500 for bigger ones having 30mm body length.
How to get rid of ants in a snail farm?
It is essential to protect the snail pens from ant attacks because these insects get attracted to soft-bodied mollusks when they need to add protein to their diet.
These insects can reach the farm when the internal environment attracts them in the form of unhatched eggs, food sources, and dirt.
Accordingly, it is better to clean and disinfect the farms regularly to make them less desirable for these stinging insects that can pose harm to your farm of tiny mollusks or snails.
Ant-repellent plants like peppermint, lavender, and lemon around the farm can help deter these insects because they do not like the odor of peppermint, lavender, and lemon.
In addition, you can cover their cages with a mosquito net that helps keep away many insects, including mosquitoes, ants, bees, and other household pests.
You can remove the food source as they can detect the presence of plant matter, like leafy vegetables and juicy fruits, that can also provide nutrients to these omnivorous insects.
Moreover, create an island around the farm to stop insects because they are not good swimmers and die after drowning.
So, you need a big bucket, fill it with water, and keep the farm setup on firm support to avoid contact with water. It helps keep almost every possible species at a distance from your pet farm.
Furthermore, remove unhatched eggs from the farm as they can become the center of attention of these insects. Spread borax all around the farm to repel or kill them, as it is a toxic ingredient.
What type of ants can kill a snail?
Every species of ants has different dietary requirements depending on their nature, as some like to get nutrients from the plant, while others choose animals.
Accordingly, the carnivorous ant species choose snails or other mollusks to get nutrients when they find any prey in their way.
The army or soldier ants have bigger mandibles that can easily chew their soft bodies or sensitive bodies. These mollusks cannot resist their deadly bites and die shortly.
Moreover, the African big-headed ants belonging to the genus Pheidole can also break their non-segmented bodies into smaller parts when encountering them in large numbers.
Their bigger heads possess larger mandibles involved in quickly devouring the prey body into smaller parts for easier chewing and digestion.
Furthermore, other deadly carnivorous ant species having stinging potential and belonging to genus Eciton, Neivamyrmex, Paraponera, and other families or sub-families are deadly for them.