Blue-ant, Diamma bicolor Click to enlarge image
Blue ant, Diamma bicolor Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    bicolor
    Genus
    Diamma
    Family
    Tiphiidae
    Super Family
    Vespoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    2.5 cm

Introduction

The Blue Ant is not an ant but a species of flower wasp from the family Tiphiidae.

Identification

The wingless, ground-dwelling female Blue Ants are bright metallic blue or green, and can sometimes be mistaken for a large ant. However they are a solitary wasp species, with fully winged males, and can often be found on flowers.

Habitat

The Blue Ant is found in urban areas, forests and woodlands.

Distribution

The Blue Ant is found throughout Australia.

Feeding and diet

When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the paralysed insects. Adult Blue Ants feed mainly on nectar.

Life history cycle

The female Blue Ant makes a burrow for her eggs and hunts for beetle larvae and other ground dwelling insects, such as mole crickets. She paralyses these with her sting, and lays her eggs on them.

Breeding behaviours

Many species of flower wasps have wingless females, including the Blue Ant. In these species, mating occurs on the wing, with the male wasps carrying the female wasps.

Danger to humans

Female Blue Ants are capable of stinging if disturbed. As they are solitary insects, Blue Ants do not pose the same level of threat to humans as social species of bees, ants or wasps do. However, unlike bees, wasps can sting more than once, and do not die after stinging. The sting causes a burning pain and swelling. If stings are multiple, a more severe systemic reaction may occur.

In some individuals, wasp, bee and ant stings can cause an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), but this is relatively uncommon. Effective treatment is available, which involves known bee/ant/wasp sting allergy sufferers carrying a special kit when outdoors. Immunotherapy or desensitisation is also available, and can reduce the severity of the allergy.

A cold pack may be used to relieve the pain of the sting. If there is evidence of a more severe reaction or the sting victim is known to be allergic to wasp and bee venom, medical attention should be sought immediately.

References

  • AGFACTS Information Leaflets
  • CSIRO. 1994. Insects of Australia. Canberra.
  • Goode, J. 1980. Insects of Australia. Angus & Robertson, London
  • Hadlington, P. and J. Johnston. 1982. An Introduction to Australian Insects. UNSW Press, Sydney
  • Zbrowski, P. and R. Storey. 1995. A Field Guide to Insects in Australia. Reed Books, Sydney