Have you ever seen a really, really big ant? Have you ever spotted a blue one? Or one that sticks its bum in the air when it walks?
It is most likely a Blue Ant.
The Blue Ant grows up to 2.5 cm long but there is a secret to its massive growth... it's actually a wasp. They live in Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
The male Blue Ant has a darker body with white spots on his abdomen. Males are smaller, only growing to 1.5 cm, have wings and can fly. The male Blue Ant behaves more like a wasp, but the female looks and behaves just like an ant.
The females live in burrows in the ground, though they will also dart about the garden in an erratic fashion. The female Blue Ant has a unique walk. She keeps her abdomen raised almost vertically as she moves.
When not above ground, the female spends her time underground looking for mole crickets and their larvae. When she finds one, she paralyses it with her stinger and then lays her eggs. The larvae feed off the mole cricket as they grow. Blue Ants are good to have around the garden as they control the numbers of mole crickets, which can affect lawns or other plants.
When gardening you might suddenly unearth Blue Ants from beneath the ground. Keep your distance as they can give a sharp sting. But as long as we leave them alone, they are peaceful creatures that like to mind their own business.
Blue Ants are great backyard buddies. They eat nectar from flowers and so naturally assist with pollination. Blue Ants are also fascinating to watch, so keep your eye out for them next time you are out and about in your garden.
Did you know?
Blue Ants are solitary creatures, unlike ants which scurry about in big groups. You can tell a Blue Ant from an ant by their antennae. Ants have bent antennae, whereas Blue Ants have curved antennae.
Blue Ants, and many other birds and butterflies, love the flowers of Australian native plants. Plant some in your garden to attract a wide range of beautiful and intriguing buddies.
Sugar ant soldiers have some impressive looking pincers on their face. Up close they can look a little menacing but it is all for show. The ants can bite but they can't sting so you may feel them pricking you with their pincers but it won't hurt much and they are completely harmless. The..