Species category: Ant
Scientific name: Iridomyrmex purpureus
The Meat Ant which is also commonly known as the Gravel Ant is a large ant species which reaches 13-14mm in length. It has large mandibles. Typically red and Black in colour, its compound eyes are located high on the head away from the mandibles and they have a single prominent node on their pedicel.
They are distributed widely throughout Australia.
Underground nest dwellers, this ant species has been known to create ‘super-colonies’ which occur when a queen and a number of its nest sharing ants, leave the original nest and start a new colony in close proximity, this process is called budding.
The ‘super-colony’ can have an extraordinarily large population that reaches tens of thousands of ants. Each nest in the ‘super-colony is linked through a series of trails and pathways.
Typically omnivores, they can eat proteins and will occasionally eat sugars from natural sources. They are excellent scavengers and unlike other ant species will actively forage during the day.
Usually, they can be found close to or connected to, an easily recognisable nest thanks to the presence of stones or gravel used to cover up the opening of the nest. They can be aggressive and will go to great lengths to protect the nest from intruders. Yet, they do not have a sting and instead attack with their strong mandibles. They have also been known to start wars with neighbouring ant colonies.
More of a nuisance than a pest, they can create large colonies in the soil which can displace turf and destabilize paving. They do not have a sting but can attack with their large biting jaws and will do so en masse which can be intimidating for the victim.
They also excrete a pungent odour which can be strong when involved with a mass infestation.