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Percy gets raided

July 9, 2014

DSCN8323I know them as Bull Ants, or Percy Bull Ants, to borrow the name of a character from the Dorothy Wall Australian classic Blinky Bill but they go by a variety of names. At the bottom of a recently excavated echidna digging I found several bull ants hefting huge chunks of gravel in their jaws, obviously trying to put some order to the recent devastation and rebuild their house.

All but one species of Bull Ant of the genus Myrmecia are found in Australia. They are aggressive hunters with excellent eyesight. Many a time I have been bailed up by soldier ants DSCN8883guarding the entrance to their nest. The enormous jaws (pictured right) are not the primary weapon of defence: it is the sting in the tail. The ants use their large jaws to grasp their prey or their tormentors (as I found out when I was younger) which then enables them to curl their abdomen and deliver the sting. These ants will attack creatures far greater in size than themselves. Last summer I observed bull ants driving off an echidna intent on digging up their nest. Bull ants’ greatest enemies are several species of smaller ants, which make up in numbers what they lack in size.

Anyone here order bug?

Anyone here order bug?

Despite their formidable appearance the adult insect feeds mainly on nectar, seeds, fungi and honeydew excreted by insects such as leaf hoppers and scale insects. The larvae are carnivores. Worker ants are sent out to forage and bring prey back into the nest for them to eat. Sort of like home delivery.

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