Jack jumper ant

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For Jerdon's jumping ant, see Harpegnathos saltator.
Jack jumper ant
Jumping jack dragging pebble.jpg
Dragging a pebble
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmeciinae
Genus: Myrmecia
Species: M. pilosula
Binomial name
Myrmecia pilosula
F. Smith, 1858

The jack jumper ant, hopper ant, jumper ant or jumping jack, Myrmecia pilosula, is a species of bull ant that is native to Australia. The ants are recorded throughout the country, but are most often found in Tasmania, rural Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.

These ants are black or red and black, and may have yellow or orange legs, antennae and mandibles. They are 10–12 mm long. Their characteristic jumping motion when in an agitated state gave them their name. Their nests may be inconspicuously hidden under a rock, or may be formed from a 20 to 60 cm diameter mound of finely granular gravel.

As with many species of bull ants, jack jumper ants are usually solitary when they forage, though they live in colonies like most ants, and only workers forage. They are highly territorial; fights among jack jumper ants from different, and even the same, colonies are not uncommon. They are known to be highly aggressive towards intruders.

Jack jumper ants are carnivores and scavengers. They sting their victims with venom that is similar to stings of wasps, bees, and fire ants. Their venom is one of the most powerful in the insect world.[citation needed] Jack jumper ants are proven hunters; even wasps are hunted and devoured. These ants have excellent vision,[citation needed] which aids them in hunting.

The symptoms of the stings of the ants are similar to stings of the fire ants. The reaction is local swelling and reddening, and fever, followed by formation of a blister. The heart rate increases, and blood pressure falls rapidly. In individuals allergic to the venom (about 3% of cases), a sting sometimes causes anaphylactic shock.[1]

Treatment is very similar to wasp and bee stings. There is also an allergy immunotherapy program developed for jack jumper stings using their own venom.[2]

The jack jumper ant genome is contained on a single pair of chromosomes (males have just one chromosome as they are haploid), the lowest number known (or even possible) for any animal.[3]

Jack jumper queen emerging from the nest

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, Simon G. A.; Wu, Qi-Xuan; Kelsall, G. Robert H.; Heddle, Robert J. & Baldo, Brian A. (2001). "Fatal anaphylaxis following jack jumper ant sting in southern Tasmania". Medical Journal of Australia 175 (11): 644–647. PMID 11837875. 
  2. ^ Australian Ant Venom Allergy Study
  3. ^ Crosland, M.W.J., Crozier, R.H. (1986). "Myrmecia pilosula, an ant with only one pair of chromosomes". Science 231 (4743): 1278. Bibcode:1986Sci...231.1278C. doi:10.1126/science.231.4743.1278. PMID 17839565.