Ant War

War between social insects, usually ants against other ants. Though it takes place on a much smaller scale than human warfare, the insects will be regimented like human soldiers and use tactics familiar to humans. This familiar association makes political allegory all but inevitable.

Not to be confused with Bug War.


Anime and Manga
  • In the Helen ESP chapter "Helen and the Dream", two warring ant colonies turn out to be who Helen has been advising. This results in a bit more... complex war than normal.

Film - Animated
  • The Dueling Movies Antz and A Bug's Life both had such wars — in the former, between ants and termites, in the latter, between ants and marching locusts (who were somewhat inexactly called 'grasshoppers').
  • The Ant Bully has a subplot about a war of the ants with the dragonflies, though by the end they go Enemy Mine against the larger threat, the Exterminator and by the end it seems they have struck a permanent peace.

  • Terry Pratchett once depicted War (the horseman) watching a battle between red and black ants.
  • In The Once and Future King, one of the animal transformations Merlyn performs on Wart is to turn him into an ant, and he finds himself in the middle of an ant war.
  • Bernard Werber's Empire of the Ants, especially the first book's battle between the Formica rufa (wood ant) and Linepithema humile (Argentine ant).
  • George RR Martin wrote "Sandkings," a short story about a species of warring, antlike creatures sold as pets. It doesn't end well.
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture makes references to frequent termite-ant wars. In the end, the war indeed erupts.
  • Done in Animorphs including one intentionally started war to get attacking ants off an unconscious Rachel. Said ants were eating her alive.
  • A Rustle in the Grass by Robin Hawdon, about an ant colony fighting off an invasion by a more aggressive species of ant, told in a Heroic Fantasy style.

Live-Action TV
  • The Discovery channels, mostly Science Channel and Animal Planet, have "Killer Bug Wars" documenting real life insect vs insect wars.

  • In a very old example of an Unbuilt Trope, Greek Mythology, the soldiers Achilles commands in the The Iliad are called the Myrmidons, or, in Greek, "ant-people." This name came from their origin as ants turned into warriors by Zeus in answer to a king's prayer to repopulate his country after a plague. The word "myrmidon" has come to denote any mindless group of subordinates, and is essentially the source of the allegory on which this trope is based.

  • The third act of The Insect Play by the brothers Čapek features two nations of ants (explicitly compared to human society) going to war over a path between two blades of grass, each fighting to exterminate the other.

Video Games
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: The Punis aren't exactly insects, but their war with the "rival tribe" of mosquito like Jabbis plays out as this trope.
  • Happens (perhaps without the metaphor) in SimAnt, naturally.
  • Battle Bugs is a Real-Time Strategy all about such a war.
  • Somewhat in Fallout 3, with a belligerent colony of ants half the size of motorcycles and a friendly note  colony of ants the size of small dogs. You can help the underdogs win by killing the bus-sized enemy queen and injecting stimulants into the smaller ant's eggs (which helps somehow).
  • The Real-Time Strategy game adaptation of Empire of the Ants not only features wars with other ant species, but also against bees and wasps.
  • Buck Bumble is about a war between technologically advanced bees against a collection of mutated insects organised under a Queen over control of a rural English garden.

Western Animation
  • In the Merrie Melodies cartoon "The Fighting 69½th", red ants and black ants go to war over picnic food.
  • One episode of the Jumanji animated series featured a war between giant red ants and black ants started by a rather stupid reason.

Real Life
  • Yes, ants really do have wars. But no tactics and strategy!
    • Some do take slaves.
    • One species has a special suicide bomber caste (the aptly known "exploding ant")