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Pseudoneoponera rufipes

Pseudoneoponera rufipes

    

     These are large strong stocky ants about 12 - 14 mm in size and are one of the few Pseudoneoponera species that have true queens. In young colonies, the queens are difficult to differentiate from the workers, but in more mature colonies where they are well-fed, they will have an enlarged abdomen with a distinct broad red tip - as shown in the third photograph above.

     They usually form small colonies of between 80 - 100 individuals, and their nests are quite basic consisting of a few chambers just below the surface of the ground.

     They are mostly nocturnal, foraging in leaf litter and around the base of plants, where they tend to shuffle around digging in the surface soil. They will eat almost anything they can find and are very fond of termites and other small insects that live in the soil.

     A small number of male and female alates are produced in the rainy season. After mating the new queens seek out a suitable place to start a colony, which is usually under some old wood or amongst the tangled roots of a tree. She will dig out a secure foundation chamber and stand guard over her newly laid eggs, then once her eggs hatch, she will regularly leave the chamber to forage.

     The common name arises from their unusual defense mechanism. When threatened they will eject a long white thread of sticky web-like substance. This is ejected at high speed in a random zig-zag manner and acts as a chemical deterrent, as it entangles and sticks to whatever is threatening them. This action can be demonstrated in captivity by gently prodding a foraging ant with a small stick.

 

     Summary: They are large easy-to-observe ants, adapt to captivity well, are quite happy in most types of artificial nests, and will take a wide range of food. They also have a very unique defensive action.

 

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