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 indie comic (now webcomic) Army Ants is this, patterned loosely after G.I. Joe. The ants, with their allies the beetles, crickets and ladybugs, fight hordes of bees, hornets and wasps, not to mention fighting predators and going on special missions like stealing cinnamon (an insecticide) from a kitchen.
- 2000 AD had a strip titled, appropriately enough, Ant Wars which pitted giant ants against humans.
Film - Live-Action
- 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 merely 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.
- Seen in Minuscule Valley Of The Lost Ants. A group of black ants is carrying a box of sugar cubes come across a squad of villainous red ants who promptly launch pursuit. This escalates into a war once the black ants reach their ant hill and they're helpless before the larger numbers and militaristic power of the red ants. They have a number of fireworks to turn the tides with, but only a single match, so the ladybug protagonist is sent into a search for a box of matches for its friends to use.
- Team America: World Police. In the lyrics to "You Are Worthress, Arec Barrwin," which plays over the closing credits:
Pranet Xiron is inhabited with Xipods rike me
But arso with Balmacs who are giant bees
The Xipods and the Balmacs are at constant war
So we wanted a new home and that's what Earf was for
But you are worthress Arec Barrwin, you are worthress Arec Barrwin
You fucked up my whole pran
And now Xiron is smeared with Balmac porren....
- 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 R.R. 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.
- 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 Army Ants comic has been converted into an RPG, basically G.I. Joe on a microscopic scale. The ants operate tanks and aircraft and carry guns, but the players are expected to basically use their own backyard as the world setting. A sandbox becomes a desert, a lawn becomes a jungle, and so on. It is possible to play an ant commando escorting workers to steal the Cheetos your players are eating.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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")