Scientific Name: Iridomyrmex purpureus
Size: Total Length 8-12 mm
What does it look like?
The Meat Ant is long-legged with large reddish-brown head and dark metallic bluish-black abdomen (gaster).
Where is it found?
Found throughout mainland Australia, and overlaps with other very similar species also known as meat ants.
What are its habitats & habits?
The Meat Ant inhabits woodlands, grasslands and adjacent urban areas with sand or gravel substrates, where it forages during the day a variety of plant and animal matter, both dead and living. Can form symbiotic relationships with caterpillars and scale insects that exude sugary substances, upon which it feeds, providing protection from intruders in return. Large underground nests are constructed, which can house over 60,000 individuals, and several adjacent nests may form part of a single colony. Very aggressive towards intruders, readily biting repeatedly with powerful jaws and spraying a pungent liquid from the anal gland.
This species features in my book A Naturalist’s Guide to the Insects of Australia