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Ant antics

November 11, 2014
DSCN1210

Green-head Ant

Recently, an ant struggling with an insect corpse across our brick pavers caught our attention. We stopped to watch the activity around the nearby ant-hole, where some ants were busily excavating, while others appeared to be building a stockpile of leaves and stalks.
When we checked with Max Campbell, our invertebrate expert who gave a Focus on Fauna presentation earlier this year, he advised us that these are Green-head Ants (Rhytidoponera metallica). Max said “… the carcase is a crane fly (family Tipulidae) and was more likely to be carrion than prey. All food is used by the ant community for both adults and larvae. It is likely that most proteinaceous food (meat as it were) gets used for feeding developing young, whereas the adults would need high energy food such as nectar and other carbohydrates to maintain their active existence.”
Another interesting fact from Max is that this species of ant often has inquilines, such as specialised isopods or a type of cricket, sharing the nest with them. Inquilines are named from the Latin inquilinus meaning ‘lodger’or ‘tenant’, and are described as living commensally, which means that one of the co-inhabitants benefits from the arrangement, without affecting the other.
The ant’s colouring can vary – some from eastern Victoria are more obviously green headed and brilliantly metallic, as seen in Max’s photo.
[Click on any of the photos and then scroll through the gallery using the arrows.]

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 11, 2014 8:00 am

    Ants are such brilliant little creatures. Watch the nest over the seasons. As summer approches you may notice that the soil or stones around the hole are light coloured to reflect the heat. As the winter approaches the soil or stones may be changed for darker coloured ones to absorb the heat and keep the nest warm.

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