Ant-raiding Ant Click to enlarge image
Ant-raiding Ant, Genus Ceraphachys Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Genus
    Cerapachys
    Subfamily
    Cerapachyinae
    Family
    Formicidae
    Super Family
    Vespoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    7.5 mm
  • Feeding Habits
    carnivorous

Ants belonging to the Cerapachys group are specialist predators of other ant species.

Habitat

Ant-raiding ants live in urban areas, forests and woodlands, and coastal habitats.

Distribution

Ant-raiding ants are found throughout Australia

Feeding and diet

Ant-raiding ants eat other ant species.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Ants belonging to the Ceraphachys group are specialist predators of other ant species. They conduct raids on other ant nests, overpowering and killing workers to get to the larvae and pupae of the colony. On finding their targets, the raiding workers sting the young ants and carry them back to their own nests. Although the sting of a Ceraphachys ant is quite capable of killing the larvae, the ant raiders subtly modify the injection of venom so that it paralyses and preserves the larvae rather than harms them. In this way the larvae stay fresh much longer than they would otherwise and can be stored in the raider ants' nest, to be consumed over a period of time. When the food store runs low, the raiders go and find another nest to attack.

Danger to humans

Ant-raiding ants can sting. An ice pack or commercially available spray may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of an allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought.