Thursday, 10 September 2015

GIANT RED BULL ANT - Insect Mini-Series

Here is story number 6 in my insect mini-series

Giant Red Bull Ant - Jervis Bay, Australia

Sometimes nest guarding was positively boring. He patrolled the area around the mound: turning this way and that, scuffing through the loose dirt and dry vegetation which disguised the nest entrance. Nothing. Nada. Not so much as a whiff of an intruder for him to ward off.

He wished he was a hunting ant instead of a guard ant. Whilst 20mm long was substantial for an ant – indeed Giant Red Bull Ants were one of the largest ant species in the world - he simply wasn’t large enough to hunt. At an impressive 25mm long, his fellow hunting ants surpassed him.

He itched for a bit of action to liven up his day.


With his excellent vision, he spotted something approaching the nest. It didn’t occur to him that the intruder might be too big for him to take on.

Purple Swamphen

A foraging Purple Swamphen searched the ground for snails and frogs, flicking its tail up and down as it walked. Fast and aggressive, the guard ant raced towards it. He raised his mandibles in readiness to attack with his highly developed sting. As the bird moved towards the nest he closed in.

 Unfortunately the attacked swiftly became the attacker in a lighting strike that cost the ant a leg and mangled one of his antennae. He managed to retreat to the safety of the nest before the bird finished what he had started.

Moments later the Giant Red Bull guard ant emerged again. Injured or not, he was hard wired to guard his Queen. But the Purple Swamphen had moved on. He resumed his patrol and found that five legs worked almost as well as six.


  1. Aw bless! You've almost converted me to sympathy for ants. Almost, but not quite!

  2. You'd have a lot less sympathy if he stung you, Lizy, but I was impressed by his feistiness. (And that is spelled correctly, despite my spell-checker saying otherwise!!)

  3. Look at the jaws on that insect! One tough character obviously who can do without a leg. No big deal just carry on.

  4. These ants are amazingly tough, Sue. This one ran onto the path we were walking on and tried to block us!

  5. Our daughter was stung by a bull ant when she was small Susan and it really hurt! We were new to Australia and had gone on a day trip to a country town - I was so freaked out! Fortunately it settled down after about 20 minutes and a couple of ice creams later! Still I don't like to think of that poor bull ant losing a leg and antennae :( Great photos :)

  6. Your poor daughter, Rosemary! I understand the sting is extremely painful, so your story says something for the power of ice cream!


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