Meat Ants

Meat ants (also known as gravel ants) are a dominating and very well-established ant species in Australia.

Known to be aggressive to anyone threatening their nest, the meat ants will bite and defend their territory from both humans and other invaders at all costs. This makes them a dangerous pest, so it’s always good to have an effective meat ants control option on hand.

Meat ant characteristics

Meat ants
Elvira Tursynbayeva /
  • Scientific name: Iridomyrmex purpureus
  • Colour: Black torso and dark red head, but the queens are fully black.
  • Legs: 6
  • Body: Mainly Monomorphic with some exceptions.
  • Size: The usual size is 6-7 mm with the queens reaching up to 12 mm.
  • Antennae: 2
  • Bites or stings: Meat ants won’t sting but they will bite you viciously.
  • Danger: The bites are irritating and painful, but are hard to be avoided sometimes as these ants are very fond of urban and farm areas.
  • Region: Australia

Meat ants' life cycle

  • Since these ants thrive in warm weather, their mating season is in the spring, after which they remain active until autumn.
  • Meat ant colonies usually have a single queen, which mates with only one male. However, this is not exclusive, as two or more queens can work together to establish a colony.
  • A single queen can produce approximately 20 eggs, which may need up to 2 months to transform into adults.

Meat ants' habits

  • Meat ants like to use pebbles for covering their nests, making it a sight that’s hard to miss. This is why they are also called gravel ants.
  • This species is fully active during the day when they are scavenging tirelessly for food sources. These could be the honeydew they find on trees or dead as well as alive insects or animals.
  • Australian meat ants have impressively big colonies that may exceed 300,000 ants. Therefore, a single colony often creates multiple nests, which are connected through trails.

Learn about the habits of the Jack jumper ant, too.

Facts about meat ants

  • Meat ants favour high temperatures and warm weather. They prefer to build their nests in open areas, which are easily accessible by sunlight.
  • Having meat ants for neighbours is no picnic. If territorial boundaries are not considered, they won’t hesitate to fight the intruders.
  • These meat-eating ants have impressive skills when it comes to stripping the meat off dead animals. All they need is just a few weeks to clear a whole body out.

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