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When is an ant not an ant?

February 1, 2020

When it is a wasp of course. A Blue Ant (Diamma bicolor) is so called because the female is wingless and is a bright, metallic blue in colour (with orange legs) so it actually looks like an ant (pictured below). It is a species of Flower Wasp. Flower Wasps have previously been discussed in this blog but there are some key differences between a Blue Ant and other flower wasps.

Male Blue Ant

All female flower wasps are wingless. There is sexual dimorphism in flower wasps where generally the female wasp is much smaller than the male. In Blue Ants the female is the larger insect. The picture above shows several smaller males trying to mate with the larger female.

Adult flower wasps are nectar feeders. Because it is wingless, to get to the higher flowers the female wasp sends out a mating pheromone and mates with the male. Afterwards, when the male flies off to feed, the female remains attached and stays so until she has had enough to eat whereafter it drops to the ground. Due to the size discrepancy it is hard to imagine that this strategy works for a female Blue Ant.

Female flower wasps paralyse and lay their eggs on beetle larvae. The food of choice for the young of Blue Ants is mole crickets and their larvae.

I always thought that Blue Ant would make a great name for a new superhero – and a female role model at that.


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