Many people think ants and grasshoppers are good friends as they share a habitat and live closely, but they are unaware of their predatory habits.
Do Ants Provide Food For Grasshoppers? Ants provide food for grasshoppers in a famous fable to relate the story with daily life experience and give a lesson to children that everything does not remain the same, so it is better to prepare yourself for the worst situations. However, there is nothing close to reality because ants can eat grasshoppers and are not responsible for their nutrition and shelter.
Grasshoppers have no risk of attack from ants until they are alive and hopping on the trees because their bigger legs can support an escape and allow them to avoid an expected death.
What is the relationship between ants and grasshoppers?
Grasshoppers are insects with olive green bodies and larger legs, which prefer to live on grassy lands as their primary food source is grass.
They share many physiological features with ants as both of them have three segmented bodies and three pairs of legs in addition to sensors on antennae and legs.
Moreover, they have chewing mouths to break the larger particles into smaller pieces for easier consumption. The grasshoppers rely on plants as they prefer to eat seeds, flowers, or leaves.
They have herbivorous nature and choose corn, cotton, wheat, barley, and many other crops to get nutrition and keep their bodies energetic as they like to jump a long distance on trees.
Some people assume that these hopping insects depend on ants for their food as they need seeds to eat and revive their energy when they do not find any nutrition source.
In addition, they are supposed to be in a symbiotic relationship with each other because larger grasshoppers protect them from other predators to get food.
However, there is no symbiotic relationship between the two organisms as they have a predator and-prey relationship where ants try to attack and eat them only when they are injured.
It can be considered a negative species interaction where only one organism benefits and the other suffers, as seen in predation. The predator enjoys food, and the prey loses their life.
The same is the case between ants and these hopping insects, in which the latter organism is at risk of death when it loses the ability to jump or gets slightly injured.
Furthermore, it seems an opportunity for ants that can easily capture their bodies when they cannot make efforts to protect themselves from death and fight for their defense.
Why do ants give food to grasshoppers?
You probably have read a Greek fable about grasshoppers and ants, as it is a famous bedtime story for children and told by teachers in the class.
According to the story, the grasshopper is lazy and enjoys singing songs and sunshine in the summer, while others are active or hardworking and work hard to collect food for winter.
Grasshopper makes fun of them when they carry heavy particles, haul them to the nest, and do not follow their habits.
However, they have to face severe challenges in the winter when grass gets covered with snow, and there is nothing to eat for them. So, they beg tiny ants to provide food and ask for shelter.
There is no other way except to beg them for energy-rich nutrients and warmth to avoid the freezing air and meet their hunger.
Accordingly, tiny creatures took pity on these lazy hopping insects and provided them food and shelter to spend winters because they would die if these tiny creatures refused to help them.
So, it is just a story with nothing similar to reality because they can only be engaged in a predator and prey relationship.
Do ants eat grasshoppers?
Ants pose a significant threat to the survival of grasshoppers because they are a part of the diet of omnivorous species of these tiny insects.
Such species of ants consume animal and plant-based food, so they do not hesitate to grab the bodies of injured insects lying on the ground.
They do not waste time and energy locating other foods if they find a motionless insect near death on the ground as they begin to attack collectively on their bodies.
They prefer eating animal-based food only if they are dead, close to death, or injured because grasshoppers are larger and can easily jump away when an army of insects tries to reach them.
Most commonly, red imported fire and carpenter ants are attracted to their dead bodies and feed on the decaying matter to extract nutrients.
These insects use mandibles to tear their bodies apart and eat them in small parts that can easily pass through the gut and get digested without posing any burden on their digestive system.
They can swallow the eggs of these grass-eating insects and get nutrition for better sustenance. Some predatory insects can also attack the adult and hopping insects to make them prey.
However, most of them find the grasshopper hunting process challenging and reach for another source of nutrition to avoid trouble in capturing these hopping insects.
So, they probably like to feed on their corpses when these insects do not move and stay on the floor.
Do ants and grasshoppers eat the same things?
Ants and grasshoppers have many things in common, including taxonomic order and class, as they both belong to the class Insecta and share physiological features.
Their eating habits are also common as they consume plant foods except for some carnivorous or predatory species of stinging pests.
Moreover, these tiny creatures suck nutrients from stems and chew leaves to extract essential elements from them, like their larger fellows who prefer to live around trees.
Both of them can consume seeds of different crops, become nuisance pests for agricultural crops, and create problems for the farmers by damaging domestic crop fields.
In addition, conflicts can arise between the two insects when their interests change, as these tiny insects favor aphid growth for honeydew, but grasshoppers try to eat the adult and eggs of aphids.
This conflict of interests can result in a fight for nutrition between the two organisms, but sometimes they collectively get food from decaying plant matter.
The tolerance to starvation varies between the two insects, as grasshoppers can only live without food for 3 to 8 days, while ants can avoid starvation for 15 days.
Furthermore, the former need more energy than their body weight, but ants need a smaller percentage of nutritional elements.