The Bulldog Ant

An Australian hunter with excellent vision and a venomous sting

by Catherine McNiff
Bulldog Ant on green leaf

By Doug Beckers (Flickr)

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The bulldog ant is one type of several aggressive ants of the genus Myrmecia, mostly of Australia and Tasmania, capable of inflicting a painful and potentially dangerous sting. Also called bull ant, or jumper ant, the bulldog ant uses its excellent vision (unusual for ants), sizable mandibles, and venomous sting to find and kill its prey. While the adults feed mainly on honeydew, a sweet deposit left on the leaves of plants usually by aphids or scale insects, and nectar, the active and ferocious hunter ants leave the nest to hunt for food such as bees to feed the carnivorous larvae. Their greatest tool is their mandibles, or large jaws, which they use to find food, defend their territory, and build their nest. The nest is an underground chamber where the queen lays her eggs. The resulting larvae are tended to by workers. Another important tool is their antennae, which can detect chemicals and help identify friend or foe. The ant spends much of its time caring for (preening) their highly prized antennae.

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