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Ant Assault

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Not even superheroes are immune to ants.
Oh we're the ants who ruin your dinner.
We're always here to mess up any day.
When we're around, every camper gets thinner.
'Cause if we get the chance,
we will taaaaake, your food away.
The Ants, Garfield and Friends, "The Picnic Panic"
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Among humans, ants are often known as the source of trouble. They are common pests, showing up whenever there is food to be found and appearing uninvited in the hapless person's house or picnic in large numbers. Some ant species build their nests inside the walls and foundations, damaging their structure. And lastly, ants, much like bees and wasps, can sting. Depending on species, these stings may hurt a lot, especially when they sting en masse, with fire ant stings being the most infamous.

Combined with the stereotype that ants can carry stuff much larger than them with ease, it's no surprise that ants featured in fiction end up being the source of trouble. More often than not, they will be portrayed as an aggressive swarm focused solely on expanding their colony or protecting it from intruders at any cost. They may also show up as food thieves, with a particular penchant for stealing food from picnics. In more anthropomorphic settings, you may expect to see them as militaristic expansionists. Sometimes, they may come in massive sizes. Either way, there ants exist solely to cause trouble.

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For obvious reasons, this trope frequently overlaps with Strong Ants. May often be featured as one of the sides in the Ant War. Compare with Termite Trouble and Wicked Wasps.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Arachnid and Blattodea: A Living Aphrodisiac girl secretes the Queen substance found in ants to brainwash people into zombie-like sex slaves. Once she is killed, a "Rape Zombie Apocalypse'' tears Japan apart as a Depopulation Bomb that was planned by the Big Bad but actually went out of control.
  • Himenospia: As a throwback to Arachnid, Serena has multiple squads of brainwashed soldiers with ant motifs that swarm around her. The scary but easily beaten Media army ants seen in Arachnid are reimagined as giant musclewomen armed with gatling guns that slaughter the Japanese soldiers sent after Serena. In the story, any wasp queen's death is said to turn their minions into crazed but intelligent terrorists instead of the mindless zombies from Arachnid, but this never happens until the end.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Chimera Ants are carnivorous invasive insects hailing from the Dark Continent, whose members are created from the DNA of whatever the Queen eats. They're typically very small, but a Queen somehow bigger than most humans manages to find itself in a nation filled with animals, going on to consume them and eventually most of the human population too, creating super-powerful ants that quickly take over. The human-hybrid ants are even stronger and smarter, eventually learning how to use Nen after encounters with users like Gon and Killua. Then there's the Royal Guards and the Chimera Ant King...
  • One Piece: In Strong World, some of the first monsters we see are a horde of literal soldier ants, capable of reducing a sea monster to a skeleton in two seconds flat. They completely ignore Brook due to him having no meat on his bones...and pay dearly for it.

    Comic Books 
  • Conan the Barbarian: In "The Devourers" in Savage Sword of Conan #182, Conan and his companions find themselves in the path of the Maribunta: a wave of army ants devouring everything in its path. The Maribunta is followed by the villain Moloch, whose caravan travels behind the Maribunta and picks the treasure of the villages that are cleared by the ants.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In "Bloodstained Fangs" (Zoot Comics #12), the evil Mava disposes of those who cross her by burying them up to their neck and then coating their head and honey and leaving them to be devoured by ants. She is Hoist by Her Own Petard when she trips over the skull of her latest victim while fleeing from Rulah and lands on the anthill, where she is devoured herself.
  • Superman:
    • In the Issue 296 of Action Comics, giant ants invade the Earth and raid it for resources. They are also impenetrable to bullets and are smart enough to use the green kryptonite to ward off Superman. Subverted as it turns out they were non-hostile and were simply trying to rebuild their rocket (which also uses green kryptonite as the fuel) to continue traveling the stars and warning people of many planets about the dangers of the nuclear war so they won't meet the same fate as the former inhabitants of their own homeworld.
    • Kryptonite Nevermore has Superman saving Lois Lane and her pilot from a swarm of flesh-eating ants.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: This is the subject of gags in a few strips, such as picnickers who are attacked by army ants who deploy artillery and an even more luckless couple who are Lost at Sea in a raft and get attacked by navy ants.
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    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ant-Man: Unsurprisingly, since one of Ant-Man's powers is to control ants. Just when Darren Cross is about to shoot the heroes, an army of ants crawls onto his hand and starts biting it. In the sequel, when the heroes are captured, Hank Pym tricks Bill Foster into opening an Altoids tin, releasing several giant ants, allowing them to escape.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: During the Amazon chase sequence, Indy's group and the Soviets run into a field full of big and vicious ant colonies. Antonin Dovchenko is overwhelmed and Eaten Alive by a swarm of them.
  • The Naked Jungle (a loose adaptation of "Leiningen Versus the Ants") has the Leiningen South American cocoa plantation threatened by a two-mile-wide, 20-mile-long column of army ants.
  • Phase IV revolves around a pair of scientists being besieged by a titanic army of ants who have, through unknown means, become highly intelligent and bent on world domination.
  • The Scorpion King: The first movie has Arpid and Matthayus being captured alive, and buried up to their necks near numerous anthills filled with over-sized, flesh-eating killer ants. However, Arpid managed to escape and later took down the guard supposedly watching him by knocking him into one of the anthills.
  • Them!: A colony of ants is mutated by atomic radiation and grows to the size of cars. When their queens start to fly off and start new colonies, there is a desperate rush to destroy them before they can spread nationwide.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs:
    • The first time the team morphs into ants as part of an infiltration mission, they nearly get stuck in morph because it turns out the ants have a Hive Mind that overrides their own senses of self.
    • During an accidental mission in the Amazon, Rachel falls unconscious in bear morph on top of an army ant colony. Cassie starts ripping out bloody chunks from her and puts them on a nearby ant colony so the ants start fighting each other instead of devouring Rachel, lasting long enough that Rachel can jump in the river to get rid of the ants.
    • When they travel back in time to the Cretaceous, they encounter the hostile Nesk, which resemble ants forming The Worm That Walks. Word of God is they evolved into modern ants.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Ant swarms are among the most feared outbreaks from the Dungeon, because they're a rare type of monster capable of active reproduction, instead of just occasionally appearing at spawn points. As a result, the Abyssal Legion prioritises hunting them down and exterminating them before they grow to the point of razing kingdoms. The Colony actually defies this trope, though, under Anthony's leadership; they're still capable of exponential growth, but they're clever enough to use traps, fortifications and strategy, not just rely on numbers, and they're willing to coexist peacefully if not attacked.
  • H. G. Wells' "Empire of the Ants" depicts a new species of intelligent poison-wielding ant taking over the Amazon, with the expectation that they will eventually conquer the world.
  • Genrenauts: The Failed Fellowship (Part One): The Shadow of the Night-Lord: "Chapter Nine: Karn-Du":
    “The ants,” Qargon said. “They’re controlled by the hive blooms. Made to be slaves to the fungus and ensure its spread. They were one of the simpler but more dangerous creations of the Fungal Lords. Hit them wrong and they’ll explode; spores will get into your lungs. Then you become one of them.”
  • Gods and Warriors: When Echo the falcon falls from her nest as a fledgling, she's attacked by ants when she tries to eat one. Userref rescues her, but the experience leaves her with a serious fear of ants.
  • The Goosebumps book How I Got My Shrunken Head has Mark, the protagonist, exploring through the jungle during the night on a quest to search for his aunt until he gets exhausted and falls asleep. Once he wakes up the next day, he discovers that his entire body is inundated with red ants crawling everywhere on him! Thankfully, he uses the "Jungle Magic" (his own catchphrase) to get them all to fall off of him before he is suffocated.
  • Leiningen Versus the Ants: A plantation owner in the Brazilian rainforest battles an immense swarm of soldier (army) ants that are determined to eat him and his workers.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Human-sized ants are an enemy seen in the first story, and keep reappearing, what with having seven princesses and a queen for the protagonists to combat, along with making no headway of taking down said leadership for they keep escaping. They may also be a Them! reference, given that they are announced with a "Them!".

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die: One story involves a pair of rich Spoiled Brat tourists on an African safari who decide to separate from the tour guide despite the latter's warning to stay in the jeep. The two eventually get tired and fall asleep under a tree, unaware that a colony of driver ants was nearby that wind up making a new nest inside one of the tourist's body while he slept, killing him. The other tourist was spared because the aloe ether in her perfume managed to keep the ants away from her.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Invoked. One of Glory's minions compares the Knights of Byzantium to an army of ants.
    Jynx: The Knights of Byzantium are like ants. First you see one, then another and another. Before you know it, the picnic's ruined.
  • The 1986 Super Sentai series, Choushinsei Flashman, featured ant-like footsoldiers in the form of the Zolors. They could even spit acid from their mouths. This generally fit in with the "1950s B-movie" theming the show had, likely referencing Them! and other such movies.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Web Planet", the Animus arrives on the planet Vortis and takes of the native Zarbi — who resemble giant ants — and use them to attack the other native species the Menoptra.
  • MacGyver (1985): "Trumbo's World" is another take on "Leiningen Versus the Ants" and uses footage from The Naked Jungle. Deep in the Amazon jungle, a horde of killer ants is destroying everything in its path. MacGyver helps his entomologist friend and the plantation owner to battle the ants before the plantation is destroyed.
  • Primeval features the Megopterans, mutant future ants the size of cars that are apparently responsible for the extinction of humanity. Even the Future Predators, the deadliest creatures in the series, are afraid of them.
  • Walking with Beasts: In the first episode, a colony of giant prehistoric ants happens upon a just hatched baby Gastornis, which they proceed to strip to the bone.

    Music 
  • Rammstein: In the music video for "Links 234", an ant colony launches a retaliatory attack on a group of beetles that attacked them; the ants use their numbers to overpower the beetles.

    Video Games 
  • Amazon: Guardians of Eden: The last playable chapter features an ant bigger than Jason which will cut him in half and devour him with ease if he gets too close.
  • Anti-Idle: The Game spawns ants when your boost is above its blue limit, which will reduce your boost at a rate of 1% per second per 600 ants. The higher you are above your blue limit, the faster ants spawn. As having a higher boost percentage increases the rate at which the progress bar advances, as well as the experience and yellow coins earned from all sources, this tends to get annoying, especially when you just got a boost increase as a reward. You can deal with them by buying ant sprayers unlocked at level 250, 550, and 850 (the Manual Ant Sprayer reduces the number of them by 90% and the ant count will not increase for 15 seconds, which can be used again after 180 seconds, the Special Ant Sprayer permanently reduces the number of ants by 5%, and the Doom Ant Sprayer destroys all ants and prevents them from spawning for 60 seconds, but it has a 600 second cooldown).
  • Bee Swarm Simulator in Roblox features the Ant Challenge, a mini-game in which your bees must fight against a Multi-Mook Melee of enemy ants ranging from the normal type to giant ants, flying ants, fire ants that leave a trail of flames and army ants complete with army helmets. Taking out as many ants as you can in five minutes increases your score and rewards.
  • Bug!:
    • Reptilia, the second level, features army ants as common enemies, with a giant one appearing as a Mini-Boss. They wear soldier helmets, attack by throwing bouncy grenades and drop via flower parachutes, making them literal army ants.
    • Arachnia, the final level, has fire ants as enemies. Much like army ants, fire ants also feature a Visual Pun in their design; they use flamethrowers to breathe fire and wear fireman helmets.
  • Bugdom: Fire ants led by King Thorax are the main antagonists in the game. They kidnapped the ladybugs, inhabitants of Bugdom, and keep them locked in cages. The main character's goal is to defeat their king and free the ladybugs from their captivity.
  • Bug Fables:
    • Cordyceps-infested ant corpses, known as Zombiants, appear as the earliest enemies in the game, mostly featured in Snakemouth Den and Upper Snakemouth.
    • Monsieur Scarlet is an effeminate ant criminal who lures the exploration teams into his hideout via false help requests, and then, after revealing himself, proceeds to drain their lifeforce to the husk. He came dangerously close to doing this with Team Celia, until Team Snakemouth defeats him, sending him fleeing and ensuring that no one will ever fall for his trap ever again.
  • Death Road to Canada features the ANT ATTACKS camping event. It's only encountered while the party is walking, which is a good thing, because it hurts the entire party and makes them unable to sleep, a major handicap in the combat events necessary to get a new car.
  • Dragon Quest II has iron ants as early-game enemies. They aren't strong, but they're still a step up from slimes and mauluscs. Their Palette Swap variants include army ants, which can call for help, and somnol ants, which can put one of your party members to sleep.
  • EarthBound (1994) features robotic ant enemies called Antoids that attack in big groups. The boss of the first Sanctuary is Titanic Ant, a giant bipedal ant that can use PSI attacks, lower Ness' defense, drain his minimal PP, and is accompanied by two Black Antoids that can heal him. Gold Mine also features Gigantic Ants, which are stronger golden regular enemy counterparts of the Titanic Ant.
  • Earth Defense Force features giant ants as some of the first enemies, and hordes of them make up some early missions. Often, the player will be tasked with hunting down an ant queen, or will simply be assaulted by several of them along with their hive. EDF 2025 introduces the crimson ants, who are even harder to kill but show up in just as numerous amounts.
  • Empires of the Undergrowth is a Real-Time Strategy game featuring ants as the main theme. It's about a new artificially-created species of ants known as Formica ereptor expanding their colony in the wild, waging war with other ant colonies, and absorbing the traits of other ant species to adapt to many hardships provided to them by a duo of scientists observing their behavior.
  • Fallout features several different classes of ant enemies, most of which congregate either around caves which hold their queen/colony or, in one case in Fallout 3, their leader the Ant-agonist.
  • Grounded: Ants are some of the most regular enemies the player can encounter. They will demolish the player's encampments to eat any food the player has stored and swarm the player when they get hostile.
  • MediEvil: A side quest has the Witch of the Forest shrink Daniel so that he can collect amber from an anthill. The ants are about as tough as you expect when they’re the same size as you, plus they all spit acid. And naturally, you have to kill their Queen to be able to leave the dungeon.
  • Mega Man X8: Gravity Antonion is a Reploid modeled after the ant, and he's the Mad Scientist and a Maverick who believes in Sigma's cause that the world is evil and needs to be resetted (read: completely destroyed). In battle, he employs a lot of Gravity Screw and can create massive blocks four times his size to throw at the player character.
  • NetHack: Ants appear as common monsters, represented by lowercase a glyph together with bees and giant beetles. There are three types of ants in the game: giant ants, the weakest variant of ant enemies; soldier ants, which deal high damage and can poison your character; and the fire ants, which can set the character on fire. They all are very quick and tend to appear in large groups, making them very hard to deal with.
  • Pokémon Black and White introduces Durant, a Bug/Steel-type ant Pokémon which has the highest Speed of all Steel-types that aren't Mega Evolutions, with similarly high Attack and Defense stats, plus they have 0.3 m in height and large mandibles.
  • Red Alert: The secret campaign features giant mutant ants (as in, bigger than tanks) that have taken over an underground base.
  • SimAnt: The player takes the role of the black ant colony which attempts to wipe out the rival red ant colony, take over the yard, and eventually drive the humans out of their house.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Antons, first debuting Sonic the Hedgehog CD, are one-wheeled mass-produced Badniks modelled after ants who tend to serve as basic enemies, driving back and forth and dealing Collision Damage if Sonic bumps into them.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Synergism has you take care of anthill in the midgame. It normally doesn't cause problems, but the third upgrade unlocked for it makes those ants scare off the taxman for up to a 99% tax reduction.
  • Vectorman 2: The sixteenth level, "Recycle or Die", has giant fire ants as enemies, which attack by shooting fireballs. When Vectorman defeats them, they leave behind power-ups that temporarily allow him to shoot fireballs as well.

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 
  • Girl Genius: In the side-story "Small Problems", the protagonists have to battle "giant" ants after being shrunk. Even after being returned to full-size, Zeetha is still being swarmed by them, and jumping into a moat doesn't help, as the ants have scuba gear.
  • Sheldon: In one arc, the house is invaded by a large colony of ants that grows increasingly brazen in its attempts to steal food after the characters' attempts to get rid of them fail to work — after a while, they become bold enough to openly demand that the others turn over their food, spelling their requests by forming their swarm into letters.

    Web Original 
  • Serina: Ants were among the handful of Earth creatures placed on the titular moon. Most of the species are fairly harmless but a few manage to become very dangerous.
    • The first are the empire ants, which evolve in the early days of Serina's history to be large in both individual size and numbers in the absence of competition and predators. They devour the giant snails and flightless birds present at the time but become reliant on these animals for food; when they eat them all, they began to starve and eventually die off when a species of labybird with parasitic larvae starts eating their colonies from the inside out.
    • The next arrive over two hundred million years later in the form of the billion stingers. They have much smaller colonies than the empire ants, but can still overwhelm and skeletonize large animals in minutes.
    • The last are the shogghoths, who arrive near the end of Serina's habitable phase. They are descended from billion stingers who took their swarming behavior the its logical conclusion. By utilizing the bones of their prey as support and their fur and feathers for covering, they form large tentacled bodies that travel the land in search of more prey.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars: Inferno is a Predacon who transforms into a fire ant and is a ruthless Pyromaniac who believes himself to be an actual ant, and as such, is zealously loyal to his "queen", Megatron, and his "colony", the Predacon base.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "Skumm Lord", Wheeler swings on a vine, smacks into a python, and, upon falling back to earth, puts his hand in a fire ant nest. The ants take offense and leave a bunch of sores on his hand.
  • Garfield and Friends: Two Musical Episodes revolve around Garfield, Jon, and Odie fending off a group of singing ants. In "The Picnic Panic", they're smart enough to steal and eat all the food from their picnic, even throwing Jon and Garfield into a river. In "Another Ant Episode", they steal all the food from the house, and are able to counter most of an exterminator's methods.
  • Minuscule: While black ants are presented mostly in the positive light, red ants on the other hand are always depicted as Always Chaotic Evil species of robbers who constantly attack the black ants to steal their goods. In the movie, their conflict actually turns into a full-fledged Ant War, with red ants being the penetrators.
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Return of Brainiac", while shrunken, Lois Lane gets carried off to an anthill by one of the insects, which now stands taller than she does. Superman punches the ant and quips that he has to spoil its picnic.
  • Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends: One episode has the Alliance dealing with hybrid ants that have begun attacking a small town. Turns out the ants are so large and aggressive because they've been crossed with Shadoen DNA.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Front", in response to a mediocre episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Bart and Lisa decide to write their own episode of the show called "Little Barbershop of Horrors", where Itchy gives Scratchy a haircut. Bart writes that instead of shampoo, Itchy covers Scratchy's head with barbecue sauce, then opens up a box of flesh-eating ants. The ants eat Scratchy's flesh, and Scratchy screams in pain as his head is reduced to a skull.
  • Tom and Jerry: In three shorts (Cat Napping, Pup on a Picnic and Barbecue Brawl), a marching swarm of ants (whose synchronized marching may cause dangerous vibrations) shows up to cause bother. In the first cartoon, they were used by Jerry to ruin Tom's nap by breaking the hammock with their vibrations, while in the latter two cartoons they show up to collect food from Spike and Tyke's picnics.
  • Total Drama: Ants sometimes torment the campers.
    • In "Not Quite Famous", Heather reads Gwen's diary out loud to the whole world on stage during the talent contest challenge. In retaliation, Gwen dumps Harold's red ant farm into her bed.
    • Because the plane is stranded on Jamaica in "Jamaica Me Sweat", DJ's Drop of Shame is very unspectacular. To please Chris, he screams as if he's making a fall, but it's not convincing until he starts screaming from actually being attacked by fire ants.
    • While Alejandro's munching through the giant pancakes in "Food Fright", he is attacked by a nest of fire ants hidden inside the stack. He pushes through the pain.
    • Ants infest Pimapotew Kinosewak's tree house in "This Is the Pits!" Max sets flame to them with a magnifying glass on his own bed, inevitably causing the sheets to burn too. Somehow, he thinks it's the ants that put his sheets aflame.
    • The hurdles race in "Pahk'd With Talent" was supposed to be a regular hurdles race, but Chris decided it needed a few traps to spice things up. Among others, a nest of fire ants is located behind one hurdle and Shawn just so happens to trip over that one and lands face first amidst the ants.
    Real Life 

 
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Guntai Ari Ants

Brook, Franky and Robin encounter a swarm of literal soldier ants.

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