Invasive ants are agriculture’s enemy

ON PATROL: These bull ants are alert to any activity near their nest and will come out ready to grapple with any perpetrator they can find. They collect nectar and other plant juices, as well as animal prey, which are carried back to their nest.

ALTHOUGH they are among the smallest insects, ants are known to all human cultures everywhere, while the industry of the species is legendary.

Australia has around four to five thousand species of ants – the fauna is both diverse and exceptionally abundant, with a host of species found nowhere else.

Many of these ants are not even scientifically named, according to Alan Yen of the Department of Economic Development.

These ants have a broad range of different functions – some are predators, some are foragers and others simply sample the honey dew – and everyone is aware of worker and soldier ants.

Workers are the most common of the species, with different workers undertaking different tasks within the nest, sometimes according to their age.

Young workers get an early job looking after eggs, larvae and pupae, but as they become older they may move onto nest construction and excavation; even later in life they may shift to foraging outside the nest for food

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