A Conversation for Ants

A quick posting on Australian ants

Post 1

meeply

We have quite a few of these down here. Over 80 known species of Myrmecia alone. So it's understandable that there is some confusion, especially when you consider that many of them can have the same or similar common names.

Bull, Soldier or Bulldog Ants.
I think you have run into one of these confusing areas with this section. There are two (maybe three?) groups of ant given the above names, and I think you might have combined them together. I'll have a try at describing them for you.

Bull ant.
I call 'em bull ants, I've also heard them called army, bulldog, soldier and meat ants.
They're common in my area, they live in large colonies with hundreds (thousands?) of members. The nest is a broad low mound, perhaps a metre in diameter and 10mm high. It will be covered in small (rice grain sized), usually dark stones. There are many entrances. When disturbed large numbers of ants come boiling out of the nest. The ants themselves are typically orange and brown and about 8-10mm long. There are distinct worker and soldier castes. I can't swear that they don't sting, but they are (from memory) much more bitey than stingy.

Night ants.
I might be imagining these guys. I haven't seen their nest, or soldiers (if they have them). They're rare in my area. They look almost identical to bull ant workers. They seem to only come out at night and to be solitary foragers. Unlike bull ants they aren't aggressive and may be handled without fear of bites.

Inch ants
Is what I call 'em, but I've heard them called army, bull, bulldog and soldier ants.
Around here they're uncommon, they live in small colonies, I'm guessing less than 100 individuals. The nest is a small volcano looking thing with a large hole typically guarded by a few individuals. The ones in my area are all black, but I have seen all red ones and red and black ones in other areas. These guys are big, 15-20mm or more (I have heard of 30mm). There doesn't seem to be a distinct soldier caste. They have impressive jaws and an even more impressive sting. I haven't heard of anyone having a severe allergic reaction, but I wouldn't rule it out.

Jumper or Hopper ants.
Also called Jumping-jacks (amongst other less polite things).
Rare, they live in small colonies, similar to inch ants but a little more numerous, perhaps up to a few hundred members. The nest is another volcano looking thing. I've seen all black and all black with a pair of yellow legs. A little larger than bull ants, maybe 10-15mm, and there doesn't seem to be a soldier caste. Yes, they can jump when disturbed, not necessarily to escape, either. These ants sting, they can trigger severe allergic reactions, and have caused fatalities.

smiley - tea Whew, who would have guessed that I had that much text in there. Must be time for a cuppa.


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A quick posting on Australian ants

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