What Eats Termites in California

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Termites, those notorious wood-chewing insects, play a vital role in the ecosystem of California. While they may be a nuisance to homeowners, they serve as a delectable meal for a variety of predators. From the majestic birds soaring through the sky to the elusive mammals scurrying beneath the ground, numerous creatures have developed an appetite for termites.

But who are these voracious termite consumers, and how do they satisfy their hunger? Stay tuned as we dive into the intriguing world of termite predators in California, uncovering the surprising array of species that rely on these tiny creatures for sustenance.

Mammals and Marsupials

comparing mammals and marsupials

Mammals and marsupials play a crucial role in controlling termite populations in California through their natural predation. Several species have adapted to include termites as a part of their diet. Aardvarks and anteaters, for example, are specialized insectivores known for their ability to consume large quantities of termites.

In addition, certain birds such as coucals and chickens have been observed feeding on termites, especially during the reproductive phase when termites swarm. Reptiles also contribute to termite control, with lizards like the frill-necked lizard and agamid lizards being known to consume termites when they come across termite nests or mounds.

Other predators include the blind snake, which is a specialized termite feeder, and the spotted eagle owl, which preys on termites and other small invertebrates. Overall, the presence of these mammal and marsupial species helps maintain a balance in termite populations in California.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians play a significant role in termite control in California by feeding on these insects. They serve as natural predators of termites, helping to regulate termite populations and prevent termite problems. Here are some examples of reptiles and amphibians that consume termites:

  • Lizards: Various species of lizards, such as geckos and frill-necked lizards, actively hunt and consume termites. They take advantage of termite swarms and use their quick reflexes to catch these insects.
  • Snakes: Some snakes, including blind or worm snakes, reside under termite-inhabited wood to capture termites. They rely on their ability to sense vibrations and movements to locate and catch their prey.
  • Frogs: Certain species of frogs catch flying termites as a food source. They are skilled at capturing these insects mid-air and use them as a valuable source of nutrition.

These reptiles and amphibians contribute to the division of labor within the ecosystem by targeting termites as a food source. Their consumption of termites helps maintain the balance of the termite colony and reduces the risk of termite infestations.

Insects, Spiders, and Nematodes

small creepy crawly creatures

In addition to reptiles and amphibians, the ecosystem in California relies on a diverse range of insects, spiders, and nematodes to contribute to termite control. Among these, assassin bugs are particularly important as they are natural predators of termites. These bugs have long beaks that they use to inject toxic saliva into their prey, causing paralysis and eventually death.

Other insects that eat termites include ants, beetles, and wasps. Spiders also play a role in termite control by catching and consuming them in their webs. Nematodes, which are microscopic worms, are another natural enemy of termites. They enter termite colonies and release bacteria that kill the termites.


Birds play a significant role in controlling termite populations in California by preying on them both in the air and on the ground. They are an important part of the natural ecosystem and help keep termite populations in check. Here are some key points about how birds contribute to termite control:

  • Swallows and bats catch termites in flight and on the ground, making them effective predators.
  • Certain species of owls and grain-eating birds like doves also feed on termites, adding to the diversity of bird species that consume them.

Termites are a ready supply of food for birds in areas with large numbers of alates (reproductive termites).

  • Maribou storks, yellow-rumped caciques, Egyptian geese, and chickens are among the birds that hunt termites on the ground.
  • Sparrows, black phoebes, swifts, and starlings catch termites in the air during swarms.

Other Termite Predators

natural enemies of termites

Other creatures besides birds play a significant role in controlling termite populations in California. Small animals such as mongooses, aardvarks, and certain species of spiders and ants often found in the region are known to fall prey to termites. These predators not only consume termites as a food source but also contribute to termite control in the ecosystem.

Termites include various species, and their behavior of swarming and flying when they leave the nest makes them vulnerable to predation. In addition to birds like starlings and weavers that are known for eating termites, other animals and insects such as small mammals, reptiles, spiders, and ants also play a role in controlling termite populations.

Their predation helps maintain a balance in the termite population and prevents infestations in California.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.