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Honey Ants

Camponotus inflatus

Honey Ants
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Honey Ants • Camponotus inflatus
Easily identified by their enlarged abdomen containing ‘honey’, the honey ant has 6 legs, and three parts to their body (head, thorax, abdomen).

Honey ants are ants that have been gorged with food by worker ants, so much so that their abdomens swell, functioning as a living larder. The ants are fed by the collected honeydew made by the Red Mulga Lerp, Austrotachardia acaciae (Kurkunytjungu)1.

The sweet nectar of the honey ants makes it one of the popular bush tucker eaten by the Indigenous Aborigines of Australia, especially in Central Australia and the Northern Territory.

The honey ants live in nests, up to 2 metres deep, below specific mulga trees. The nest are said to be usually found on the shady side of the tree. The honey ants dig deep underground tunnels and chambers where they live.

The local Indigenous women search for the nests of the honey ants by locating the drill holes under the trees, that give away their presences. Using their wooden digging sticks, although now this may be replaced by shovels and metal bars, the women dig down, following the honey ants tunnels (nyinantu), until they find the ants, which are collected in the coolamons.

The honey ant is a popular symbol depicted in Indigenous art work.

Common Names - Honey Ants (Camponotus inflatus)

Common Name Where Found
Honey Ant
Arrernte Name: Yerrampe, Agkwarle Yerrampe
Luritja Name: Tjupi
Pitjantjatjara Name: Tjala
Found throughout the Central Australia (Western Australia, South Australia and and the Northern Territory.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Formicinae
Genus: Camponotus
Species: Camponotus inflatus

Honey Ants (Camponotus inflatus) • Other links

Australian Ants Online
• A Guide to the Australian Ant Fauna.
Honey Ants - Aboriginal Tourism - Indigenous Australia - Iconography and Symbols
• The honey ant is a popular symbol depicted in Indigenous art work.
 

Footnote:

1 Mai Putitja and Irmangka-Irmangka (Bush Tuck and Bush Medicine), Tjala, Retrieved 3 July, 2008, http://bush-tucker.tripod.com/html/tjala.html
 

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