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Do Isopods Eat Ants? (Find Out!)

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Pillbugs or isopods are becoming popular amongst invertebrate lovers. People raise isopods for a lot of reasons and more people are joining the isopod trend. Before raising isopods, you need to plan their source of food as well as other care requirements.

What do isopods eat?

Can you feed your isopods with insects such as ants?

Isopods do not eat ants. Isopods are scavengers that eat dead and decaying materials, especially plant-based materials. Your ants and isopods can happily coexist when you care for them properly.

Isopoda "powder red" on wood

Can you raise ants and isopods in the same tank? If so, how can you raise both invertebrates with ease? We cover the answers to these questions and others in the rest of this article.

Do Isopods Eat Ants?

Isopods do eat a lot of things and they tend to consume your waste so that nothing goes to waste. Well, some people say that their ants are dying and they suspect that the isopods are the cause. Isopods do not eat ants so they are not the reason for your ants’ untimely deaths.

What Do Isopods Eat?

Here are some examples of materials that isopods eat:

  • Plant Materials: Your pill bugs love their plant-based foods. Give them fresh green leaves and grasses and they should start eating them in less than two days. It would help if you give them the softer parts of plants such as fruits, leaves, and flowers.
  • Poop: Isopods eat their poop and the poop of other animals in their tank. Many people raise isopods for their cleaning services.
  • Humus and Other Organic Materials: One cool reason why people raise isopods is that you do not need to feed them regularly. If you raise your isopods in loam, they will eat the humus and other nutrient-rich substances in the soil. Most of the organic materials in loam are renewable.
  • Carcasses: Many museums use isopods to clear decomposing flesh from bones. Even though it is not advisable to feed your isopods with animal products, it is worth knowing that isopods can eat dead animals. Note that isopods usually do not kill animals, they only eat the decomposing carcasses.
  • Anything Decomposing: Always remember that isopods are scavengers. They will eat anything that they perceive is weak, dead, or decaying.

As you can see, the only possibility that isopods are eating your ants is if your ants are already weak or dying. Don’t worry, later in this article we will discuss some reasons why your ants are dying.

A Common Isopod on the ground

Can You Raise Isopods and Ants in the Same Tank?

It is possible to raise ants and isopods together. Just make sure that you use the tips below:

  • Raise Equal Number of Both Species: You should not overwhelm your population of isopods with the ants (and vice versa). Make sure that you raise a seemingly equal number of isopods and ants. If you notice that one population is growing faster than the other, you need to reduce it occasionally.
  • Same Size of Ants: Some ant species grow larger than isopods. If these ants are predatory, they will surely eat your isopods. To be on the safe side, raise isopods only with little (or equally-sized) ant species that are also scavengers.
  • Introduce Your Ant Queen: If you are raising ants in a tank and you do not give them an ant queen, their population will slowly decline until they are all dead. To raise isopods and ants continuously, make sure that there is an ant queen. Note that isopods do not need a queen.
  • Make Sure That Food Is Always Available: To eliminate any possibility of competition for food and resources, make sure that there is enough food. You can feed both populations with similar food particles such as fruits, grains, seeds, leaves, etc.
  • Consider the Species-Specific Requirements: Research the space, heat, humidity, and other requirements of the specific species of isopods and ants that you want to raise together. Make sure that they have similar requirements. For example, isopods love a tank with high humidity.

As you can see, it is possible to raise isopods and ants together. You just need to carefully use the tips above. What if your ants are dying? If isopods are not the cause of their death, what could be killing your ants?

What Could Be Killing Your Ants?

A macro shot of a dead ant

Here are some common reasons why your ants are dying:

1. Presence of Insecticides

Make sure that the food items in your tank are not toxic or have insecticides. Remember that some stores prevent insects from eating their food products by spraying insecticides around or on the products. Make sure to properly rinse fruits and other items before you give your ants.

If you are raising ants and isopods in the same tank, toxic foods can also kill your isopods but they may not kill them immediately as isopods are more active at night and usually wait for their foods to become soft before they start eating.

2. Humidity and Heat

Isopods need a lot of humidity. Not every species of ants can live in an isopod tank. This is because there are usually higher levels of humidity in isopod tanks than in regular ant tanks.

Pay close attention to the temperature. You should not keep the tank in direct sunlight. Also, don’t place the tank close to a source of heat such as an oven or heater.

3. Absence of Ant Queen

Even though your ants are healthy and the tank conditions are suitable for your ants, they can still die if you do not raise them with a queen. An ant queen lays eggs. Without the queen, your current ant population will simply decline and die off. Make sure that there is a queen in the tank.

4. Moisture

Isopods are dissolved air-breathers. This means that they collect oxygen from their moisture-rich substrate. If you are raising ants and isopods in the same tank, make sure that the moisture of the substrate is not too much for your ants, or they will die.

You can mix the loam with sand in some parts of the tank so that the moisture of those regions will not be too much for ants. Make sure that you raise only ant species that are suitable with isopods.

5. Predators

Check the tank for predators such as centipedes, lizards, and frogs. You should make sure that predators cannot enter your ant and isopod tanks.

Group of isopod centipede live in the wood

Here’s what people are asking about ants and isopods:

1. Do Ants Eat Isopods?

Ants such as Leptogenys, Solenopsis, Pheidole, and other species that are large and can eat living invertebrates can surely eat isopods. Other ant species, however, do not like eating isopods because of their exoskeleton defense.

What if you are raising ants and you want to feed them with isopods? If you want to feed isopods to your ants, you should slow them down with a freezer. Collect the isopods and keep them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. This should slow them down so that they cannot resist the ants.

2. Why Should You Cultivate Isopods?

If you are wondering why you should raise isopods, here are some reasons:

  • Feeder Invertebrates: You can use isopods to feed various types of pets. For example, you can feed your toads, frogs, praying mantises, and birds with isopods.
  • Cleaning Services: Use isopods to clean animal poop from tanks. Remember that isopods eat poop. Note that you still have to clean the tank regularly, so you should not fully rely on your isopods.
  • Nutrient-Rich Substrate: Are you looking for a cheap organic soil amendment for your garden? Search no more. Isopod substrate is nutrient-rich and suitable for your garden plants.

3. Can Isopods Damage Your Garden?

Isopods do not damage gardens. The presence of isopods in your garden signifies that your garden is organically rich and has some decomposing materials in it.

If your garden plants are dying, you should check for destructive organisms such as slugs, snails, grasshoppers, and others.

Many snails destroy the leaves of kidney beans in summer garden

Final Thoughts

Isopods do not eat ants. Isopods are scavengers and eat dead and decaying materials. They love plant-based products, so you should give your isopods a lot of grasses and leaves.

Before raising ants and isopods in the same tank, make sure that both species are compatible.