Bulldogs ants (Myrmecia) is a genus of ants known for their powerful stings and aggressive behavior Their strong grip and savage biting behavior gives them their name ‘bulldog’. They are also known as bull ants, jumper ants, sergeant ants and inch ants
Bulldog Ant Scientific Classification
Table Of Content
Have a look at the description of this huge ant.
Size: Bulldog ants are large in size and measures 8mm to 40 mm. The worker ants and the queens are of the similar size.
Eyes and Legs: They have large eyes and long hairy legs
Mandibles: Their mandibles are straight and long, located at the front of the head. These mandibles possess teeth along the inner lining.
Body: They have a stinger loaded with venom which is located in their abdomen at the tip of the gaster. These ants have the mesosoma which is attached to the gaster by two separate segments known as the petiole and the postpetiole.
Bulldog ants show very interesting behavioral characteristics.
- These ants are known to be very fierce and aggressive by nature.
- They are fast movers and always remain alert.
- They have a simple social structure – females are workers, while the large males are soldiers who guard the nest.
- These ants scatter loose dirt around their nest to keep a sharp eye on the enemies approaching.
- The queen of the bulldog colony runs to the farthest corner when disturbed slightly making it difficult to capture.
- These ants work independently and are not very organized by nature. The queen too finds her own food.
- Bulldog ants are very smart and when threatened, they tend to attack the intruder from behind through the alternative exits of their nests.
- While attacking an intruder, they grip them and curl its abdomen to inject their venom into the victim’s body repeatedly.
- The bulldog ants are more active during the nights of the warmer months. During winter they move deeper into the ground and can be seen only during the day.
- These ants spend considerable amount of time in grooming. i.e. cleaning their antennae and legs.
They usually feed on plant nectar, honeydew and plant juices. Sometimes they prey on other insects as well. They also feed on gum, fruits, fungi and seeds. These ants have their own dairy since they feed on sugar from the bugs that suck plant sap such as aphids just like milking cows.
The bull ants are found almost everywhere across Australia.
Bulldog ants are found in forests, woodlands, and heath. They make their homes underground which have expansive tunnel system with a small entrance.
These ants have certain adaptive features.
- These ants have highly advanced vision and therefore they are able to look out for enemies from a distance of 1 metre.
- They use their venom to give anaphylactic shock which can kill their victims. In case of humans they may cause skin allergies and sometimes death.
- The strong claw-like mandibles help them in searching for food, crushing preys and to scare off predators.
- These ants have two pair of jaws – the outer pair used for carrying objects and the inner pair is used for chewing food.
During certain times of the year, these ants develop wings. When the young queen is ready to mate she flies out to meet other males. These winged male and queens fly into the air and mate after which the males die. After mating, the queens’s wings fall off and she starts building an anthill. The fertilized queen starts a nest by digging small chambers where she lays her eggs. The queen spends her entire life laying eggs.
An ant’s life cycle passes through four distinct stages of egg, larva, pupa and adult. The eggs hatch into small grubs which grow into worker ants who expand the nest. The fertilized eggs hatch into females and unfertilized ones into males. The queen leaves the nest at night to find food for its babies. Forager ants who go out searching for food regurgitate the fluid food to feed other members of the colony. Young larvae are usually fed dead insects and grubs. In some species of bull ants, there are no colonies and the queen attacks the nest of other species to kill the queen before taking over the entire colony.
The bulldog ants live for 8 to 10 weeks passing through the four stages of life. However, in some cases, the queen ant may live for several years.
These ants are often hunted by ants of other species, birds, wasps and spiders.
They have been listed in the IUCN red list as Critically Endangered Species. However, no conservation measures have been taken yet.
Here are some interesting facts about these fierce little creatures.
- Unlike other ants, they communicate by touch and smell.
- They help in decomposition of dead plants and animals in the wild.
- The sting of these ants hurt a lot since they inject formic acid.
- Scientists have observed that these ants secrete a special chemical that kills pollen. Scientists are testing this secretion to check if it can be used to cure human diseases.
- Unlike other ants they are attracted to flowers but have no role in pollination.
- Some bulldog ants are known to jump and leap upto 2 inches when they are disturbed.
Here are some images of Bulldog Ant.