Myrmecia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Bull ant)
Jump to: navigation, search
See also: Myrmecia (skin)
Myrmecia
Bullant apr07.jpg
Bull ant
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Superfamily: Vespoidea
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmeciinae
Genus: Myrmecia
Fabricius, 1804[1]
Diversity
c. 90 species[2]
Synonyms

Halmamyrmecia Wheeler, 1922
Pristomyrmecia Emery, 1911
Promyrmecia Emery, 1911

Myrmecia, often called bulldog ants, bull ants, inch ants, sergeant ants, jumper ants or jack-jumpers (although jack jumper only applies to members of the M. pilosula species group), is a genus of ants. Bull ants can grow to over 40 mm (1.6 in) in length, with the smallest species 15 mm (0.59 in) long. Almost all of the approximately 90 species are endemic to Australia, with the single exception of Myrmecia apicalis from New Caledonia, where it is rare.[3]

Biology[edit]

A winged female bulldog ant
Head detail

These ants are well known in Australia for their aggressive behaviour and powerful stings.[3] The venom of these ants has the potential to induce anaphylactic shock in allergic sting victims. As with most severe allergic reactions, the reaction may be lethal if left untreated. These large, alert ants have characteristic large eyes and long, slender mandibles. They have superior vision, able to track and even follow intruders from a distance of 1 m.[3] Myrmecia is one of several ant genera which possess gamergates, female worker ants which are able to mate and reproduce, thus sustaining the colony after the loss of the queen. A colony of Myrmecia pyriformis without queen was collected in 1998 and kept in captivity, during which time the gamergates produced viable workers for three years.[4]

Diet[edit]

Detail of head and mandibles
Myrmecia forficata

Bull ants eat small insects, honeydew (a sweet, sticky liquid found on leaves, deposited from various insects), seeds, fruit, fungi, gums, and nectar. Because they mostly live exclusively in bushland, they are rarely exposed to a human-influenced diet. The adult ants mainly eat nectar and honeydew, but the ant larvae are carnivores that eat small insects brought back to them by hunting worker ants. The workers can also regurgitate food back in the nest so other ants can consume it.

Foes of bull ants are the black ants[clarification needed], which despite being much smaller, use their much greater numbers to overwhelm bull ant colonies.

Philosophy[edit]

The bull ant famously appears in the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer's major work, The World as Will and Representation, as a paradigmatic example of strife and constant destruction endemic to the "will to live".

"But the bulldog-ant of Australia affords us the most extraordinary example of this kind; for if it is cut in two, a battle begins between the head and the tail. The head seizes the tail in its teeth, and the tail defends itself bravely by stinging the head: the battle may last for half an hour, until they die or are dragged away by other ants. This contest takes place every time the experiment is tried."[5]

Species[edit]

M. brevinoda
M. gulosa
M. pyriformis
Winged specimens leaving the nest
Winged specimens leaving the nest

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ITIS standard report - Myrmecia (Fabricius, 1804)". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Bolton, B. (2014). "Myrmecia". An online catalog of the ants of the world. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Ants Down Under: Genus Myrmecia
  4. ^ Dietemann, V.; Peeters, C; Hölldobler, B. (2004). "Gamergates in the Australian ant subfamily Myrmeciinae"". Naturwissenschaften 91 (9): 432–435. 
  5. ^ The World as Will and Representation

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Myrmecia at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Myrmecia at Wikispecies