Do Owls Eat Ants? Unveiling the Surprising Diet of Owls 

Why Do Owls Eat Ants

Do owls eat ants? It’s a question that piques my curiosity when delving into the world of these enigmatic nocturnal creatures.

Ants, while fascinating in their own right, can sometimes become a nuisance, infiltrating our homes and gardens in search of sustenance.

Yet, rather than resorting to chemical-laden solutions to rid ourselves of these tiny invaders, there exists a natural and efficient method: attracting ant-eating owls.

In this article, we will explore the relationship between owls and ants, why owls eat ants, and how to attract ant-eating owls to your yard or garden.

Key Takeaways

  • Owls eat ants because they are a good source of protein and nutrients.
  • Different species of owls eat different types of ants.
  • Attracting ant-eating owls to your yard or garden can help control ant populations naturally.
  • Ants are generally not harmful to owls, but certain species can be aggressive and pose a risk to smaller owl species.
  • Providing a suitable habitat with food sources and water can attract ant-eating owls to your yard.
Do Owls Eat Ants?

Why Do Owls Eat Ants?

Many species of owls eat ants as part of their regular diet. Ants are a great source of protein and other nutrients for owls.

They are also an abundant and easily accessible food source. Some owls even prefer to eat ants over other insects.

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What Types of Ants Do Owls Eat?

Owls eat a variety of ants, including fire ants, carpenter ants, black carpenter ants, and red ants.

Owls eat a variety of ants, including fire ants, carpenter ants, black carpenter ants, and red ants.

Each species of ant has its unique characteristics and features, and owls have developed different ways to catch and consume them.

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Which Species of Owls Eat Ants?

Several species of owls are known to eat ants regularly. Some examples include the elf owl, great horned owl, barn owl, screech owl, and little owl.

These owls have specialized beaks and feeding habits that allow them to capture and consume ants effectively.

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How Do Owls Catch Ants?

Owls use different strategies to catch ants. Some species will forage for ants on the ground, while others will capture flying ants in the air.

Some owls, like the elf owl, will even hunt for ants in their nests.

Some owls, like the elf owl, will even hunt for ants in their nests. Owls have adapted various hunting techniques to catch ants efficiently.

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Are Ants Harmful to Owls?

Ants are generally not harmful to owls. Owls that eat ants benefit from the abundant supply of ants in their diet.

However, certain species of ants, like the imported fire ant, can be aggressive and can cause harm to owls, especially smaller owl species.

certain species of ants, like the imported fire ant, can be aggressive

Awareness of the potential risks associated with different types of ants is essential.

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How To Attract Ant-eating Owls To Your Yard?

There are several ways to attract ant-eating owls to your yard or garden. Providing a habitat that offers a good food source and nesting opportunities is important.

Planting native plants that attract ants, offering owl boxes or nest sites, and providing water sources can help attract ant-eating owls to your yard.

What Other Insects Do Owls Eat?

Owls eat many insects, including beetles, caterpillars, spiders, moths, and butterflies. Insects are an essential part of an owl’s diet, providing them with the necessary nutrients and energy to thrive.

Do Other Birds Eat Ants?

While ants are more commonly associated with owls, some bird species also eat ants as part of their diet.

These birds, like woodpeckers and some flycatchers, may eat ants when they come across them, but it is not their primary food source.

Do Ants Eat Dead Owls?

Ants are scavengers and will consume dead animals, including owls, if they come across them.

However, ants are not known to actively seek out dead owls as a food source. They are more likely to consume insects or other small animals.

Can Ants Harm an Owl’s Nest?

Certain species of ants, such as carpenter ants and fire ants, can cause damage to an owl’s nest.

These ants may tunnel into the nesting material, weaken the structure, and even prey on the owl eggs or owlets.

It is crucial to monitor and remove any ant colonies near owl nests to ensure the safety of the nesting owls.


In summary, owls have developed a taste for ants due to their high protein content and abundance. Many species of owls actively seek out ants as part of their regular diet.

By attracting ant-eating owls to your yard or garden, you can benefit from natural pest control while providing a habitat for these fascinating creatures.

Remember to consider the specific types of ants in your area and the potential risks they may pose to owls.

Creating a suitable habitat with a variety of food sources and water can help attract and support ant-eating owls in your area.


Do All Species Of Birds Eat Ants?

No, not all species of birds eat ants. While several types of birds, including specific ant-eating birds, do consume ants as part of their diet, others may prioritize different food sources.

The dietary habits largely depend on the bird’s size, habitat, and available food sources.

Can Eating Ants Be Harmful To Birds?

Generally, eating ants is not harmful to birds. However, certain types of ants, like the fire ant, may pose a risk if consumed in large quantities due to their venomous sting that could potentially irritate a bird’s digestive system.

Do Screech Owls Eat Ants?

Screech owls, primarily being birds of prey, tend to focus their diet on larger prey like rodents, insects, and smaller birds.

While they could potentially eat ants, these would not be a significant part of their diet.

Are Baby Birds Fed Ants By Their Parents?

Yes, baby birds can be fed ants by their parents, especially in species of birds that regularly include ants in their diet.

Ants can be a source of protein and fat, important nutrients for growing birds.

What Types Of Ants Do Birds Tend To Eat?

Birds that eat ants can consume various types, including black garden ants, carpenter ants, and even flying ants.

The specific types of ants they eat often depend on the birds’ habitat and the availability of different ant species.

How Do Barn Owls And Great Horned Owls Differ In Their Eating Habits?

Barn owls and great horned owls have different eating habits reflecting their surroundings and prey availability.

Barn owls primarily consume rodents and small mammals, whereas great horned owls have a more varied diet that can include larger prey such as rabbits and even other birds.

While they may ingest ants incidentally, ants are not a staple of their diet.

How Can I Attract Ant-eating Birds To My Garden?

To attract ant-eating birds to your garden, ensure you have a habitat that supports ants and other insects by maintaining natural foliage and reducing pesticide use.

Installing bird feeders that mimic the birds’ natural food preferences, like seeds that attract smaller birds which in turn might eat ants, can also help.

Do Elf Owls Eat Ants?

Elf owls, being the smallest owls in the world, primarily feed on insects.

While their diet mainly consists of moths, beetles, and crickets, they may occasionally eat ants, though ants are not their primary food source.