Aphaenogaster longiceps Click to enlarge image
Funnel Ant, Aphaenogaster longiceps on leaf Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    longiceps
    Genus
    Aphaenogaster
    Subfamily
    Myrmeciinae
    Family
    Formicidae
    Super Family
    Vespoidea
    Suborder
    Apocrita
    Order
    Hymenoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    5 mm

Funnel Ants get their name from the shape of the entrance to their nest, which is like a cone or funnel in the ground.

Habitat

Funnel ants live in urban areas, forests and woodlands, heath.

Distribution

Funnel ants are found throughout Australia.

Feeding and diet

Funnel Ants are generalist feeders and their diet includes a range of plant and animal material. They are known to have a mutually beneficial relationship with aphids on plant roots. The ants take excess sugary fluid exuded by the bugs as they feed and, in return, the aphids are protected from predators. It is common to find parts of insects and other invertebrates close to the nest entrances. Ground-dwelling animals like beetles fall into the funnel and struggle to escape before the ants attack. The ants quickly dismember the victims and take them into the nest as food for larvae. This allows the ants to reduce the amount of time spent away from the nest foraging.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Funnel Ants get their name from the shape of the entrance to their nest, which is like a cone or funnel in the ground. These funnel-like entrances can be up to 4 cm in diameter and 30 cm deep. The nests can be so extensive and dense that their presence can severely affect soil structure, making it fragile and prone to collapse.


Single Funnel Ant nest entrance
Single Funnel Ant nest entrance in the Royal National Park Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

Danger to humans

Funnel Ants are only aggressive if their nest is disturbed. However, these 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.