Alternative names : Bulldog Ant
Reasons to Fear Bull Ants :
The bulldog ant or as commonly known the “bull ant” is a large, aggressive ant that has long, straight, powerful jaw and a venom-loaded sting. The bull ant is one of the most aggressive ants in Australia.
There are over 90 species of bull ants in Australia and they belong to the Order Hymenoptera and the Family Formicidae and are classified differently according to their antenna length. Many species of bull ants have bright red or orange colours on their head or abdomen and are among the largest of any ant species measuring up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in length. The bull ants feed on plant nectar and insect prey. They build their nests underground with only a small entrance.
The name of bulldog ant was given to them because of their strong grip and savage bite. They will guard their nests fiercely and have no issues in attacking an intruder of any size that comes too close, especially children. Some bull ants are known as “jumper ants” will jump at an intruder. With well-developed vision, the bull ant will follow or chase an intruder from its nest. They use their strong claw-like mandibles to grab food, crush prey and to ward off predators.
The ant can deliver a very painful sting by using its mandibles (jaws) to grip the intruder and then curl its abdomen to sting and inject its victim with venom. It is not uncommon for the victim to receive multiple stings.
There have been six sting related deaths in Australia from a bull ant bite according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, five in Tasmania and one in New South Wales. The deaths were all males aged between 40-80 years of age and were due to allergic reactions to the venom. Now, if you are planning to go and poke a Bull Ant’s nest with a stick, hear is a little word of warning, DON”T, these guys are smart. They will attack you from behind because they have alternative exits from their nests just for those occasions.
Social Life of a Bull Ant
Ants are social insects and all ants in a colony have various duties to perform such as gathering food, guarding the nest or rearing the young. However, the bull ant species are a little less organised and many of the Bull Ant species do not work together but prefer to work independently of each other. The queen even has to find her own food. They do however tend to the larvae making sure they are well fed.
Bull Ant Trivia
Closely related species of the bull ant have been found in fossils dating back to the Triassic Period (245 million years ago) in Australia and Asia.