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About Bulldog Ants

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Ants Bulldogs - one of the most dangerous insects on the planet

Of all the ants, bulldog ants are considered among the most primitive in general. This is evidenced by some of their anatomical features, and specific behavior. Yes, and the area of ​​distribution of the ant-bulldogs - Australia - has to be among the peculiar relics that retain signs of incredible antiquity.

Even if you do not pay attention to the rather ominous appearance of these ants, then in their behavior and lifestyle you can find a lot of things that do not fit in with the usual idea of ​​ants as diligent and fairly peaceful workers. However, ants-bulldogs (they are also called bulls ants) do not take hard work.


General description and characteristic anatomical features

Bulldog ants are one of the largest ants in general. The worker ant bulldog of some species can reach a length of 4 cm.The uterus is slightly larger - up to 4.5 cm, a small difference in size among the representatives of these castes is one of the signs of evolutionary immaturity.

In the appearance of the bulldog ants, their jaws are the first to strike the eye. They are very long - up to half a centimeter in length - and have several notches, which makes them universal tools for catching prey.

On the photo - the head of a bull ant with well pronounced jaws:

Ant Bulldog Head

Bulldog ants have powerful jaws

Ant-Bulldog: closeup photo

Externally, some species of ant-bulldogs resemble lost wasps of wasps with long mouthparts. Like the stinging brethren, these ants have a powerful sting, and one bite can even be fatal for humans: according to statistics, 3% of people stung by these ants develop a severe allergic reaction, sometimes with anaphylactic shock. According to other data, in Australia from the bites of these insects annually kill more people than from the attacks of sharks, spiders and snakes combined.

It is interesting

It is ants-bulldogs that are a kind of weight-lifters among ants: a working ant can lift and carry a weight of 50 times more than its own. One ant easily pulls an adult medvedka or large cockroach to the nest.

In the photo - black ant-bulldog, one of the most dangerous:

These insects are not only strong jaws, but also a powerful sting

Ants-bulldogs jump very well, and they do it not at the expense of their paws, but thanks to the sharp movements of their jaws. An ant can either move in a series of jumps of 10–12 cm each, or jump once, but it’s far to 50 cm. It is not surprising that bulldog ants are also called jumping ants.

There are bull ants and other differences that no group of ants can boast at all. For example:

  • bull ants swim well and are able to easily overcome water obstacles up to 15 cm wide;
  • among the bulldog ants there are species that communicate with the help of sounds — on their backs, at the junction of two segments, there are special notches that, when a segment hits another, cause a characteristic crackling sound. Some species of these ants surpass even the cicadas in their loudness.

But the appearance is not the most amazing thing about these insects. Their biology is also very interesting ...


A little about ecology and nutrition: even the wasps are afraid of these ants

Bulldog ants themselves dig an anthill, but their dwelling is simple and primitive, and the anthills are usually very deep.The main area of ​​distribution of these species is the arid territory of Australia, but they require moist soil for the normal development of the larvae. Actually, to achieve a moist soil layers, insects and deepen their nests.

Ants bulldogs feed their larvae with other insects, but they themselves feed mainly on plant nectar, fruit juices and honeydew.

See, for example, in a photograph, how the bulldog ant larvae eat the wasp brought by adult insects:

Larvae of ant bulldog eat wasps brought

Bulldog ants fearlessly attack insects larger than them and are not at all embarrassed if they have to fight with wasps and spiders (an example of such a battle can be seen in the video at the end of this article).

Ant-bulldog without fear will come to grips with a wasp

It is interesting

No matter how dangerous ants are bulldogs, much smaller black ants fearlessly attack them and often even destroy bulldog colonies due to their large numbers.

In a single colony of ant-bulldogs only a few hundred individuals can live, and in exceptional cases more than a thousand.

Among the bulldog ants there is one type of social parasites, the uterus of which can penetrate into another's nest and destroy the true queen.The working ants then recognize the newcomer as their uterus and feed her and her brood until completely replaced by the younger generation of another species.

Trofollaksis is not developed in bull ants - the transfer of semi-digested food from one individual to another. Instead, large working ants are able to lay the so-called trophic eggs - a kind of protein canned food, which is eaten with a lack of food.

Ants eat trophic eggs in case of lack of food.

It is interesting

Most of the working individuals in ants-bulldogs are gamergates, that is, they are able to mate with males and lay fertilized eggs, from which, with proper care, adult ants will develop. A case of captivity of an anthill, which had existed without a uterus for three years, was replenished with only ants from gamegergat eggs. It is believed that this behavior was typical of the ancient ants, who were just starting their journey in improving social behavior.


Breeding ants bulldogs

Once a year, the ants of the bulldogs happen years, during which the sexually evolved specimens mate, the males die, and the females scatter around the outskirts in search of a convenient place to organize a new colony.

The larvae of the bulldog ants feed on food that adult insects bring to them (in most other ants, adult working individuals feed the larvae with their belching).

In addition, adults do not help newborn ants to get out of the cocoon.

Adult ants bulldogs do not help the newborn to get out of the cocoon

Ant queen Bulldogs after the foundation of an anthill differs little from working ants, only slightly exceeding in size and having an enlarged chest.


How dangerous are bull ants?

Bulldog ants are among the most dangerous ants in the world. Not only are their bites very painful and can lead to anaphylactic shock and suffocation, the ants themselves are quite aggressive and very mobile.

Bulldog ants are very aggressive, they sting very painfully and bite hard

Their bites are very painful.

At the entrance to an anthill, 2-3 ants are always on duty, ready to give a signal to their brethren, and at the first danger several dozen insects run out of the anthill. A person who has not carefully taken a seat next to an anthill risks unexpectedly getting very painful bites. On the scale of sting pains, the bites of ants-bulldogs are classified as bites of category 3 - one of the most painful insects in the world in general.

For evolutionary scientists, bulldog ants are a very interesting object to study: using their example, one can almost directly observe the behavior and development of the insects that lived on the planet millions of years ago. Therefore, despite the danger, these ants are actively bred in research laboratories and are studying their family relationships.


Interesting video: the battle of two ants-bulldogs


Wasp vs ant-bulldog: who wins? ..

It is also useful to read: About the life of the leaf cutter ants


To the entry "On the ants-bulldogs" 2 comments
  1. Kirill:

    Good article! Helped me with a biology report. In general, an excellent site - I read a lot of interesting and surprising things. Thank!

  2. Nikolai:

    Cool, I learned a lot and could see everything!

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