The Blue Ant is not an ant but a species of flower wasp from the family Tiphiidae.
The wingless, ground-dwelling female Blue Ants are bright metallic blue or green, and can sometimes be mistaken for a large ant. However they are a solitary wasp species, with fully winged males, and can often be found on flowers.
The Blue Ant is found in urban areas, forests and woodlands.
The Blue Ant is found throughout Australia.
Feeding and diet
When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the paralysed insects. Adult Blue Ants feed mainly on nectar.
Life history cycle
The female Blue Ant makes a burrow for her eggs and hunts for beetle larvae and other ground dwelling insects, such as mole crickets. She paralyses these with her sting, and lays her eggs on them.
Many species of flower wasps have wingless females, including the Blue Ant. In these species, mating occurs on the wing, with the male wasps carrying the female wasps.
Danger to humans
Female Blue Ants are capable of stinging if disturbed. As they are solitary insects, Blue Ants do not pose the same level of threat to humans as social species of bees, ants or wasps do. However, unlike bees, wasps can sting more than once, and do not die after stinging. The sting causes a burning pain and swelling. If stings are multiple, a more severe systemic reaction may occur.
In some individuals, wasp, bee and ant stings can cause an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), but this is relatively uncommon. Effective treatment is available, which involves known bee/ant/wasp sting allergy sufferers carrying a special kit when outdoors. Immunotherapy or desensitisation is also available, and can reduce the severity of the allergy.
A cold pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, medical attention should be sought immediately.
- AGFACTS Information Leaflets
- CSIRO. 1994. Insects of Australia. Canberra.
- Goode, J. 1980. Insects of Australia. Angus & Robertson, London
- Hadlington, P. and J. Johnston. 1982. An Introduction to Australian Insects. UNSW Press, Sydney
- Zbrowski, P. and R. Storey. 1995. A Field Guide to Insects in Australia. Reed Books, Sydney