Ants and silverfish belong to different categories of class Insecta, but there are many similarities in their physical and behavioral characteristics.
Do Ants Kill Silverfish? Ants can kill silverfish to reduce the competition for resources like food and habitat, consume protein, and protect the nest’s integrity and territories. However, they do not kill silverfish often, as a few species are involved in commensalism with it; however, spiders are common predators of the silverfish.
Silverfish have only a few predators in nature, and ants are not commonly included in the list of those predators because they usually engage in a positive relationship.
Why do ants kill silverfish?
Ants engage in a mutual relationship with other insects but also kill some insects, posing a risk of competition in their territories.
These insects do not tolerate a threat to survival and fight back against intruders for their life. So, silverfish can also become a target for these insects when they have limited resources.
They have similar eating habits and consume proteins, sugars, vegetables, and sweet secretions, but silverfish also eat starches that are difficult to digest for ants.
Moreover, both organisms prefer to live in moist conditions with humidity levels around 65% to 70%. They hide inside cracks or gaps in floors, windows, attics, and bathroom tiles.
Accordingly, competition can arise between these two types of insects when they share food and shelter, leading to the survival of the fittest.
Strong and active insects fight and maintain their territories, while the weaker ones have to lose their territory and battle for food.
In addition, they can kill silverfish to win the battle, maintain their control over territories and establish their colonies by reproducing frequently.
It can become a good source of nutrition for ants because insects are rich in proteins. Their bodies are slightly larger, so ants can fulfill their protein requirements by eating them.
Furthermore, these prey insects can get inside their nests and affect their nests’ integrity due to their bigger bodies, so they have to kill silverfish and protect their nests.
How do ants kill silverfish?
Ants are deadly predators that use their stinging organs to paralyze the silverfish to kill them quickly. They also possess strong mandibles to chew their bodies hard, leading to deep wounds.
A few insects cannot tolerate painful stings or bites and die within a few minutes of an attack. Their stings transfer poisonous material from venom glands to their bodies.
This venomous material causes severe pain and poisoning in the silverfish, which leads to death. The silverfish tries to run away when they find these insects trying to attack their bodies.
Moreover, they hide inside cracks or gaps to get out of their sight and wiggle their antennae to threaten predators. This defensive gesture helps deter ants and ensure survival.
They can also curl up their bodies to remove ants crawling on their bodies by tucking their legs inside. This defensive posture reduces the exposed surface area of bodies and protects them from bites.
One of the common strategies among insects is to cover their bodies with chemical secretions that have a repelling odor and make them distasteful for predators.
Furthermore, silverfish is a nocturnal insect that hides in dark places to escape from attacks, as ants find it difficult to see in the dark.
What is the relationship between ants and silverfish?
Both are engaged in a symbiotic relationship with each other and provide benefits to each other. They act like a host for ants and use their food resources for survival.
They are myrmecophiles, or insects that love ants, and are known to live inside their nests by sharing their chambers and food resources.
It acquires the body odor of ants by rubbing their bodies, which helps get an entry inside their nests, as soldier insects use body odors as an identification mark.
Accordingly, silverfish can live close to these insects without being identified due to similar body odor. It can only harm ants by consuming their harvested food resources stored inside nests.
They are also known to beautify ants and groom their bodies or clean their exoskeletons. They get a part of their food from fire ants in return for their grooming services.
Moreover, these insects are involved in commensalism with army ants, which means it benefits from them and causes no harm or benefit to them.
Both are associated permanently and build a long-term relationship as it shares the prey of army ants and nourishes themselves by feeding on the attacked animals.
Sometimes, it participates in food raids and other activities of locating and attacking the prey conducted by a large group or an army.
So, this relationship seems harmonious because ants do not have threats if silverfish are not beneficial.
How often do ants attack silverfish?
Ants are not common predators of silverfish and occasionally attack these insects when they are responsible for posing a significant threat to their colony.
They have positive relationships and benefit each other to some extent. They find prey collectively and attack them with mutual efforts to win the battle.
Commensalism is a relationship between both of these insects, in which ants do not have significant risks of attacks from these larger insects.
They can also kill them sometimes when they find a dead silverfish because these omnivorous creatures eat dead and decaying organisms.
They also do not miss an opportunity to kill an injured or trapped insect, as it can provide good nutrition to these insects. It means healthy and alive insects do not fall prey to ants.
It has a protective covering on the outer side of their bodies and moves quickly, making it challenging for ants to capture and eat it despite frequent interactions.
However, common natural predators of silverfish include spiders, earwigs, and centipedes, attacking them frequently or eating their protein-rich bodies.
How do you get rid of ants and silverfish?
It is essential to get rid of ants and silverfish as their symbiotic relationship can make you worried as both are nuisance pests inside the home.
They are deterred by common ingredients, making it easier to control the population of both insects with a single treatment. They feel discomfort around bay leaves and citrus fruits.
Accordingly, you can use orange and lemon peels around the infested spot to remove these insects. Their strong odor disturbs these insects and makes them run away.
Put a few dry or fresh bay leaves around the corner to create a repelling force field for these insects, as their odor deters the pests from entering a house.
Reduce the humidity level and clean water spills or moisture to reduce the risk of infestation.
In addition, a boundary of diatomaceous earth powder also works quite well because their bodies are at risk of dehydration after direct contact with this powder containing silica particles.
These fine silica particles are responsible for losing moisture locked in their outer exoskeleton. It is better to clean the clutter from the house as it attracts these nuisance pests inside the home.
A boric acid powder can also kill these insects after consumption when you use it to prepare natural baits containing honey or powdered sugar as an attractant.
One of my friends uses this boric bait to kill these insects over a period of time and get rid of these pests permanently.
Furthermore, prepare a vinegar and water solution by mixing them in equal quantities and spraying them on their trials of ants and hidden silverfish within cracks.
It leads to the death of insects if you drown them correctly inside the solution or repel them away due to the strong scent of vinegar. I used this solution during infestation season to get effective results.