Arthropods as vertebrate brood predators: observations required

Hi all,

I am currently looking into the prevalence and effects of arthropods as predators of vertebrate brood. To do so, I’m building a database consisting of observations of arthropods predating vertebrate young that are dependent on parental care, in terrestrial systems (think for example of nestlings in birds or young mammals).

So if you, during your field work or in your free time, have observed such a predation event (or know anyone who has), please share it with me with as much detail as possible!

Thanks in advance for your help

See the following video for an excellent example:


Hey @maxverheij!

You can set up a project to look for these observations that looks for an interaction (and then note them when you find them).

I’d make a start by looking at Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta)- they’re well known predators in Southern North America.

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Oh, yeah, fire ants are nasty little things. It’s not their fault, they don’t know any better, but yikes. I would guess that any of the army ants would also predate anything they happened to come across while traveling, so those are probably also worth looking at.

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You may be interested in browsing literature on Nicrophorus pustulatus, a specialized egg parasitoid, if you haven’t already. It is suspected to use bird eggs (and if my memory is correct it may breed in egg-guarding snakes’ nests without being noticed by the adult snake).

Thank you for your reply! I’ll certainly have a look into the little guy

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Yeah, I didn’t realise how brutal these little ants were, most of the observations I’ve found thus far are them simply devouring everything they come across haha

I would look at ants in the genus Cheliomyrmex, they may eat snakes, but are little known

The book Urban Ants of North America and Europe: Identification, Biology, and Management says that the ant Monomorium minimum will kill and eat hatching birds

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