Do Stick Insects Eat Ants?

One of the stranger questions relating to stick insect diets is whether or not they eat ants. In a word, no. Ants have a lot of predators, but stick insects are not one of them.

Stick insects do not eat ants; they are strictly herbivorous, meaning that they only eat plant life. Even if a stick insect wanted to eat an ant, it could not physically do so. It does not have the correct anatomy to do so.

As such, its jaws are only capable of handling leaves, stems and, with a few species, berries and small fruits.

Some of the confusion about stick insects and ants may be the result of certain species of the insects seen emerging from ant colonies. Such incidents are related to food, but not in the way you might think. Nymph stick insects observed near ant colonies are there for an entirely different reason.

Stick Insects Feeding Ants

It turns out that stick insect eggs resemble seeds. It is one of nature’s defense mechanisms to make the eggs hard to find. However, certain species of ants know what they look like and value them as food sources. The ants will steal the eggs and take them back to the nest for feeding.

Ants do not actually eat the larva inside the eggs. Instead, they are interested only in a small, rounded capitulum on one end of the egg. It contains a fatty protein the ants enjoy feeding on. Once feeding has concluded, eggs are left to incubate the stick insects inside. Eggs eventually hatch and the baby stick insects emerge from the ant colony and go their way.

So no, stick insects do not eat ants. When they are observed leaving ant colonies it is because that’s where their eggs were hatched. Upon emerging from the ant colony, a stick insect will immediately head for its natural environment.


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