Giant Red Bull Ants – A Quick Guide

Giant red bull ants, Myrmecia gulosa, also known simply as giant bull ants, are a species of ant found in Australia.

Are giant red bull ants aggressive?

Red bull ants are well known for their aggressive behavior and their sting packs a punch. The entomologist Justin Schmidt known for his research into insect stings described its sting as ‘A sneaky, unassuming ache. Like a brightly colored LEGO, charming til it’s logged in the arch of your foot in the dark.’ Experience shows that they will effectively chase humans that come too close to their nests and they aren’t afraid to sting, often stinging multiple times.

Why do giant red bull ants have such large mandibles?

They have powerful serrated mandibles. These sizeable claw-like mouthparts are lethal for prey such as other ants and even bees. They are a large species of ant measuring around 3 cm (1 inch). The mandibles allow them to hold onto larger victims while they maneuver their stingers into position for a fatal blow.

A bulla ant queen
Giant red bull ant – Paul

Are giant red bull ants solitary predators?

Unlike other ant species, they tend to hunt independently. Like many ant and wasp species, they are unable to eat solid foods and instead suck out the insides of their prey and consume sugary foods such as nectar. They will chew their prey into a mush, however, which is then taken back to the nest and fed to the larvae. Similar to other species the larvae can release a sugary substance that can be consumed by the ants.

Do giant red bull ants have good eyesight?

Like other bull ants, they have far better eyesight than other ant species and will track and follow prey from as distant as 2 meters. This means that they can also spot humans approaching from some distance and may aggressively defend a nest site. A few ants will always stand guard at the entrance to their nests.

Are red bull ants related to wasps?

They have a common ancestor. Their sting is remarkably similar to that of wasps. An extensive study of these ants’ venom has been conducted in recent years and it has been found that their sting shares many similarities to that of wasps. This is evidence that they had a common ancestor going back a few million years. The scientists hope to use the research to help understand the mechanisms of pain in the human body. (Source)

How old are giant red bull ants?

They have been around for millions of years. Giant red ant fossils have been found in far-flung places such as Canada and Germany dating back as much as 40 million years. Compare that to the mere 200,000 years of human existence and it really does make you pause. The earliest evidence of ants dates back to 168 million years so they could well be far older still.