Of all the ants, bulldog ants are considered one of the most primitive in general. Some of their anatomical features, and the specifics of behavior, also attest to this. Yes, and the area of distribution of bulldog ants - Australia - has to be among the original relics that have preserved signs of incredible antiquity.
Even if you do not pay attention to the rather sinister appearance of these ants, then in their behavior and way of life you can find a lot that does not fit in with the usual idea of ants, as diligent and fairly peace-loving toilers. Nevertheless, bulldog ants (they are also called bull ants) do not occupy hard work.
General description and characteristic anatomical features
Bulldog ants are one of the largest ants in general. The working 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 bulldog ants, their jaws are the first to catch their eye. They are very long - up to half a centimeter in length - and have several notches, which makes them universal tools for catching prey.
In the photo - the head of a bulldog ant with well-defined jaws:
Outwardly, some species of bulldog ants resemble lost wings of wasps with long oral organs. Like stingers, these ants have a powerful sting, and one bite of them can be even fatal to a person: according to statistics, 3% of people stung by these ants develop a severe allergic reaction, sometimes with anaphylactic shock. According to other sources, in Australia more people die from stings of these insects than from attacks of sharks, spiders and snakes combined.
It is interesting
It is bulldog ants that are kind of weightlifters among ants: a working ant can lift and carry a weight 50 times larger than its own. One ant easily pulls to the nest an adult bear or a large cockroach.
In the photo there is a black bulldog ant, one of the most dangerous:
Bulldog ants jump very well, and do it not at the expense of their paws, but due to the sharp movements of the jaws. The ant can either move a series of jumps of 10-12 cm each, or jump once, but far - up to 50 cm. It's no wonder that bulldog ants are also called jumping ants.
There are bull ants and other differences that no groups of ants can boast at all. For example:
- bull ants swim well and can easily overcome water barriers up to 15 cm wide;
- among the bulldog ants there are species that communicate with sounds - on their backs, at the junction of the two segments, there are special jags, which, when one segment hits another, causes a characteristic cracking. Some species of these ants surpass even the cicadas by the loudness of their chatter.
But the appearance is not the most surprising in these insects. Their biology is also very interesting ...
A little bit about ecology and nutrition: these ants are afraid even wasps
Bulldog ants are digging an anthill for themselves, but their dwelling is distinguished by simplicity and primitiveness, while ant-hills are usually very deep. The main area of distribution of these species is the arid territory of Australia, but for the normal development of larvae they need moist soil. Actually, to achieve moistened soil layers, insects and deepen their nests.
Ants bulldogs feed their larvae with other insects, but they themselves eat mainly nectar of plants, fruit juices and a honey-plow.
Look, for example, in the photo, as the larvae of a bulldog ant eat an adult insect suu:
Bulldog ants fearlessly attack insects larger than them and are not at all embarrassed if you have to engage in wasps and spiders (an example of such a battle can be seen in the video at the end of this article).
It is interesting
No matter how dangerous the bulldog ants are, the much smaller black ants fearlessly attack them and often even destroy the colonies of bulldogs because of their large numbers.
In one colony of bulldog ants, only a few hundred individuals can live, and in exceptional cases, more than a thousand.
Among bulldog ants, there is one type of social parasite, the uterus of which can penetrate into another's nest and destroy the true queen. Working ants then recognize the stranger as their uterus and feed it and its brood until they are completely replaced by a growing generation of another species.
Ants-bulls do not develop trophallaxis - the transfer of semi-digested food from one individual to another. Instead, large working ants are able to lay off so-called trophic eggs - a kind of protein canned food that is eaten with a lack of food.
It is interesting
Most of the workers in bulldog ants have gamerghatas, that is, they are able to mate with males and lay off fertilized eggs, from which, with proper care, adult ants will develop. A case of captivity in an anthill was recorded, which lasted three years without a uterus, replenished only by ants from the eggs of hameragas. It is believed that this behavior was typical for ancient ants, who were just beginning their way in improving public behavior.
Reproduction of bulldog ants
Once a year, bulldog ants happen years, during which the larvae emerging from the larvae mate, the males die, and the females scatter around the neighborhood in search of a convenient place to organize a new colony.
Larvae of bulldog ants feed on food, which they bring to adult insects (in most other ants, adult workers feed larvae with their belching).
In addition, adult individuals do not help newborn ants to get out of the cocoon.
How dangerous are bulldog ants
Bulldog ants are considered one of the most dangerous ants in the world. Not only that their bites are very painful and can lead to anaphylactic shock and suffocation, the ants themselves are quite aggressive and very mobile.
Near the entrance to the anthill, 2-3 ants are always on duty, ready to signal their brethren, and at the first danger several dozen insects run out from the anthill. A person, inattentively seated next to an anthill, risks unexpectedly getting very painful bites. On the morbidity scale of stings, bites of bulldog ants are classified as category 3 bites - one of the most painful insects in the world in general.
For evolutionary scientists, bulldog ants are a very interesting object for study: on their example, one can almost directly observe the behavior and development of insects that lived on the planet millions of years ago. Therefore, even in spite of the danger, these ants are actively bred in research laboratories and study their intra-family relations.