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August 13, 2010

in our backyard – green tree ants

Since we started working on a backyard field guide B has been asking more questions about backyard plants and animals.  In response, I have been trying to learn a bit more about the flora and fauna in our backyard.  So, I bring to you the fascinating green tree ant …

Green_Tree_Ant Photo by Lepidlizard

Green tree ants are about 5 mm long and yellowish-green.  They are common all across northern Australia.

Green tree ants unlike other ants live and build nests in trees.  Green ant nests are made of leaves pulled together and woven with silk produced by their larvae.  The nests can be as big as a football.

Ants nest Photo by Michael Gorey

They are found on all types of trees.  They are very aggressive and defend their nests by swarming onto the intruder.  The green tree ants grab onto your skin with their legs and bite a hole.  They then pull their tail underneath themselves and squirt acid into the wound. 

I know from personal experience these ants are everywhere and it is painful (but not lasting) when you are attacked.  You definitely do not want to disturb a nest.

References
Junior Ranger Nature Notes, Green Ants
Green Tree Ant, Queensland Museum

2 comments:

Debi said...

Wow! Kinda cool, though. Thanks for sharing the info - we've never seen these guys before.

Deb said...

No! Definitely don't disturb! We had them in our garden and the girls learnt very quickly not to touch.