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Ants are a group of insectoid monsters in NetHack represented by the overall symbol a. Due to their high intrinsic speed and somewhat powerful attacks they result in the deaths of many inexperienced players, leading to their proverbial nickname of Team Ant.

Aligned priests often summon insects such as ants and bees in combat. If the entire a monster class is genocided, angry priests and priestesses will summon snakes instead of insects.

Team Ant[edit]

Team Ant is comprised of giant ants, soldier ants, and fire ants. Whether killer bees, queen bees, and giant beetles are a member of Team Ant is a point of contention; while they share the a glyph, they aren't actually ants. Furthermore, killer bees appear in huge swarms and are at least as formidable as giant ants, who are rarely seen in a group outside of an ant hole.

Since soldier ants are the highest single cause of death on, it has become something of a cliche to say "Go team a!" or "Go Team Ant!" on #nethack on, NAO's channel, whenever Rodney announces a death by the hands of a soldier ant.

Giant ants[edit]

The giant ant, a, is the weakest of the ants, but still a frequent cause of early deaths due to its high intrinsic speed and tendency to appear in groups.

Soldier ant[edit]

A soldier ant, a, is a fast, very deadly ant.

Soldier ants are a major cause of early death. In fact, soldier ants are the number one cause of death on the public server This is because of their high intrinsic speed, and tendency to appear in packs.

Soldier ants are poisonous to eat.

Fire ant[edit]

The fire ant, a, is a monster in NetHack. It is a member of the proverbial Team Ant and as such causes the deaths of many an inexperienced player due to its high intrinsic speed and fire attacks (although not as deadly as the soldier ant).

Strategy with ants[edit]

There are several strategies for players who encounter ant swarms early in the game:

  • Ants are much faster than most low-level characters, so try to get into a corridor as soon as possible so you don't get surrounded.
    • Use a long-range weapon (such as a wand of magic missile) because it has a chance of killing more than one of the now lined-up monsters.
    • If you are skilled enough with a ranged weapon, firing multiple projectiles also has a chance to kill multiple lined-up ants.
  • Run to the stairway (hopefully, the stairway up) as soon as the ant is spotted.
    • If possible, disable the ant (perhaps with a wand of sleep) before fleeing.
    • Since ants are very fast, use any escape items or spells that will help you get to the stairs more quickly.
    • Close doors to block the ants, if you are strong. Weak characters might not be able to close the door in time.
  • Another option is to engrave Elbereth. Ants are frightened by Elbereth.
    • A fleeing ant is less deadly than one attacking you.
    • With Elbereth, you can use the spare turns to attack the ant in melee, throw weapons, cast spells, or find an escape route.
  • If you must fight them, attack the ant with your best items or spells.
    • Now might be the time to use your offensive wands against the ant. (A wand of striking is likely to miss the ant; it is a poor choice.)
    • Zapping an unidentified wand at a monster can be risky, but might pay off if you can use it to attack or get away.
    • If you've exhausted all possible options, try reading an unknown scroll. It may be a scroll of teleportation or earth. This is even riskier. Cursed scrolls and spellbooks can sometimes cause teleportation, but cannot be relied upon to do so. Use this strategy only as a last resort.
  • If you get away, don't return to the area until you're confident you can survive the conflict.

Eating the corpses[edit]

Giant ant corpses are non-poisonous. Soldier ant corpses are poisonous and can grant poison resistance. Eating the corpse of a fire ant gives you a 20% chance to gain the fire resistance intrinsic, and is a common source in the absence of red dragons and fire giants.


SLASH'EM adds the snow ant, the cold-based version of the fire ant.


Soldier ant is a nickname for army ants in real life. Although it is possible that humans have been killed by army or driver ants, it is extremely unlikely, as they are little bigger than ordinary ants. They do, however, travel in very large groups.

Fire ants are real ants. They are many species of fire ants. They are usually red/reddish, very aggressive and their sting(from their abdomen) feels like a fire burn.

Encyclopedia entry[edit]

This giant variety of the ordinary ant will fight just as
fiercely as its small, distant cousin. Various varieties
exist, and they are known and feared for their relentless
persecution of their victims.