Incognito Insects Scurry about the Garden
You’ve seen ants scurry about your garden, but have you ever seen a really, really big one? Have you ever spotted a blue one? Or one that sticks its bum in the air when it walks?
This strange Blue Ant grows up to 2.5 cm long: as long as a $1 coin. 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. Mr Blue Ant behaves more like a wasp, but the female is a tricky master at her ant disguise.
The females live in burrows in the ground, though they will also dart about the garden in an apparently 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 never fear – so long as we give Blue Ants a bit of breathing space, 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, which leads to better flowering, production and fruit set. 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?
The 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. There are new species of leafhopper discovered every day.
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.