Ants: Rhytidiponera

According to antweb.org there are over 100 species of Rhytidiponera ants in Australia but the most well known is the Green-headed Ant – Rhytidiponera metallica. These ants have terrorised children across the country, surely for as long as there have been people here, and adults are not immune to their painful stings. But they are more than just another thing in Australia that doesn’t like people – they are vital to some of our ecosystems. Other than invading the beautiful lawn you’ve spent hours and hours caring for, these ants provide a seed distribution service that is vital for the survival of some of our native plants. Ants and plants have been co-evolving very happily for millennia, and I can say something environmentally friendly like “let’s make sure they stay that way” but honestly, after we’re long gone, nature will be there until the end.

Green-headed Ants
Green-headed Ants (Rhyditoponera metallica) feasting on a drop of honey. Though they appear mostly green, photographs can show an amazing array of metallic hues on these beautiful ants. Durack, QLD.
Green Head Ants
Green-headed Ants (Rhyditoponera metallica) tend some sap suckers in a trench on a grey gum. Cambroon, QLD.
Green Ant Midden Heap
The midden heap or trash pile near the nest of a Green-headed Ant (Rhytidoponera metallica) contains seeds, dirt and insect parts among other things. Ants can be instrumental in the distribution of seeds of certain plants. Oxley Creek, Qld.
Green Ant
Green-headed Ant (Rhytidoponera metallica) brings a seedling with attached elaiosome back to the nest. The ant will feed the nutrient rich elaiosome (the lumpy brown bit) to the ant larvae and discard the seed unharmed – a practice of mutual benefit to the ants and the plant. Oxley Creek, QLD.
Green Ant Midden Heap
Seeds lay abandoned on a midden heap. Once ants remove the eliasome, the seed has no use to them and is discarded to a nearby trash heap. Oxley Creek, Qld.
Green Ant Midden Heap
The midden heap or trash pile near the nest of a Green-headed Ant (Rhytidoponera metallica) contains seeds, dirt and insect parts among other things. Liberally scattered pupal cases are also present. Oxley Creek, Qld.
Green Ant
Green-headed Ant (Rhyditoponera metallica) carries part of another species of ant back to the nest. Toowong, QLD.
Green Ant
An extreme closeup of this beautiful ant (Rhyditoponera metallica). They range in size from 5-7mm and have a painful sting. Oxley Creek, Rocklea.
Green Ant Midden Heap
Green-head ant (Rhytidoponera metallica) adds trash to the midden heap near a nest entrance. Oxley Creek, Qld.

2 Comments Add yours

    1. Deb says:

      Thanks Victor!

      Liked by 1 person

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