Following the wet weather, the Bull-ants are busy tidying up the nest and bringing bits and pieces to add to the appearance of their nest entrance.
These are the largest of Australian ants, they also have a fearsome reputation as a result of the painful sting they can inflict. There are over 65 species in Australia with the best known being the red (Myrmecia gulosa) and the black (Myrmecia negrascarpa) (pictured) and these are most likely to be seen our gardens, as well as their smaller but more aggressive Jumping Joeys or Jumping Jacks (Myrmecia pulosa). Their sting is inflicted not by their massive jaws which are used to grip whilst they stab the sting which is on the end of their abdomen into their victim. However despite their appearance the adult ants are sippers of nectar and sugars and only the larvae are fed on insects.
In our pool garden we have two nests of the black Bull-ants and they are not at all aggressive unless you intrude on the nest. We have not tried to eliminate the nests as we work on the theory that if you know where they are, you are unlikely to get stung. So far we have found this works which is more than I can say for Jumping Joeys which wander far and wide and are happy to sting you at the slightest opportunity.