The 8 largest ants in the world

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Ants are one of the most common insects on earth. They are found almost everywhere, except that they have not yet reached the Arctic regions, and they coexist well with humans. People for them are a source of food, so ants often settle in private and apartment buildings, 'stealing' sugar, cereals and other food products from their owners.

For humans, the ant is primarily a pest. These insects damage not only stocks, but also furniture, walls, gnaw at the roots of agricultural plants and bite unpleasantly upon tactile contact. They are also small and almost ubiquitous.

More precisely, only ants living in close proximity to humans differ in 'compact' sizes. It is worth getting out of the city limits – and the 'komashki' turn into very large insects. And in the southern regions, they are completely capable of growing up to 2-3 centimeters in length.

And about them – the largest ants in the world – and will be discussed in this material. It remains to be glad that only 2 out of 8 species live in Russia and the CIS countries.

Ranking of the largest ants in the world

Nomination a place name Length
The largest ants in the world 8 Black carpenter ant (Camponotus vagus) 15 mm.
7 Black Bulldog Ant (Myrmecia pilosula) 16 MM.
6 Red-breasted carpenter ant (Camponotus herculeanus) 20 MM.
5 Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) 25 MM.
4 Camponotus gigas 28 MM.
3 Dorylus nigricans 30 MM.
2 Giant dinoponera (Dinoponera gigantea) 33 MM.
1 Myrmecia brevinoda 36 MM.

8th place: Black carpenter ant (Camponotus vagus), up to 15 mm

Rating: 4.3

Black carpenter ant (Camponotus vagus)

One of the largest ants found on the territory of Russia and neighboring countries. Males of this species grow up to 15 mm in length. The distribution area covers not only most of the central territory of Russia, but also European countries, as well as the Caucasus, Western Siberia, Kazakhstan and even Turkey.

However, it can be quite difficult to spot this ant even while walking through the forests where it lives. In some regions, the species is recognized as endangered and included in the Red Book. In part, this was influenced by the massive deforestation, leading to a reduction in the insect's habitat.

Justifying its name, the black carpenter ant is almost completely black. Only the end of the abdomen may be slightly lighter. On the back of the body, it has reddish hairs. Like other ant species, the black carpenter has a marked dimorphism depending on sex and specialization. So, males and females are winged and able to fly, but the workers are very small (about 3 mm in length) and are not capable of anything other than sawing rotten stumps.

The name of the species also reflects the way of life. The insect prefers to arrange anthills in the remains of wood – stumps, fallen trunks, branches and dead plants. They do not go deep into the forest, preferring to settle on the outskirts. Most often, the insect can be found in glades warmed by the sun, old clearings and glades.

7th place: Black bulldog ant (Myrmecia pilosula), up to 16 mm

Rating: 4.4

Black Bulldog Ant (Myrmecia pilosula)

One of the largest Australian ants. Females (winged individuals whose task is to spread the population) are able to grow up to 16 mm in length. Meets all ideas about the fauna of Australia – poisonous, aggressive and scary.

The black bulldog ant is one of the most dangerous insects and, in principle, creatures in Australia. Statistical studies from 2003 show that more people die each year from the bites of these arthropods than from attacks from sharks, snakes and spiders combined. The black bulldog ant is poisonous. The stung place (yes, it also has a sting) hurts for a long time. And 3% of those bitten develop anaphylactic shock, leading to death.

In addition to its large size, the black bulldog ant also has an aggressive color. Most of the body – head, chest and abdomen – are dark. But the antennae, paws and sting are painted yellow. This makes the insect easy to recognize and distinguish from less dangerous ants.

The black bulldog ant is an aggressive insect with excellent eyesight. Able to identify prey at a distance of several meters, and then reach it with long jumps. In one leap, the insect is able to overcome up to 10 cm. The basis of the diet is made up of smaller arthropods and flower nectar.

Locating an anthill can be quite difficult. Some 'Bulldog' colonies choose to live underground, breaking through tiered systems of tunnels, passageways and chambers. There is only one entrance to such an underground city, and in the event of an attack from the side of the enemy, it is quickly shut up with some kind of stone. At the same time, other colonies are building already familiar aboveground anthills, which have the shape of a hill with a diameter of up to 1 meter.

6th place: Red-breasted carpenter ant (Camponotus herculeanus), up to 20 mm

Rating: 4.5

Red-breasted carpenter ant (Camponotus herculeanus)

The largest ant found on the territory of Russia. Winged females and males flying out of the 'nest' and spreading the population are able to grow up to 20 mm in length. But the rest of the colony is a little smaller, especially the workers.

The red-breasted carpenter ant, also called 'giant' (as the name reflects), is found almost throughout the country. Its range also covers several European states and ends in Western Siberia (Trans-Urals). Unlike the black 'comrade', it is not particularly rare, so that it can be found in almost any deciduous or coniferous forest. At the edge.

True to its name, the red-breasted carpenter ant is almost entirely black with a 'cherry' chest. The legs also look bright due to the red tint of the hips. On the belly there are short reddish hairs. Scattering males and females are not so brightly colored – there are no red areas on their bodies, it is all black.

For humans, the red-breasted carpenter ant is not dangerous. Having spread the nest, you can get off with just a few bites (the insect has no sting, but it is still capable of squeezing the skin with chelicerae). There were no serious consequences after contact with Camponotus herculeanus.

Like the black 'comrade', the red-breasted carpenter ant lives on the edges of forests, lawns, clearings and other old clearings. It prefers to settle in dead trees – fallen trunks, stumps, even dead wood. During the construction of the nest, it gnaws through the wood long, smooth tunnels from the inside, having a complex branched system with numerous entrances, exits and additional chambers. Sometimes this insect harms logging – for example, it settles in folded wood and grinds them down to an unsuitable state.

5th place: Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata), up to 25 mm

Rating: 4.6

Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata)

Another very dangerous – and very large – ant. Paraponera clavata females and males grow up to 25 mm in length. The bullet ant got its name precisely because of the strongest poison, which surpasses the poison of other non-lethal arthropods – bees and wasps.

The bullet ant venom consists of neurotoxins that have a paralyzing and depressing effect. After the bite, the pain lasts a day. Thanks to a long sting (almost 3.5 millimeters), the ant injects poison deep under the skin. On the Schmidt sting force scale, the pain from this insect bite is at a higher level and more severe than after 'contact' with wasps of the genus Pepsis, also called 'tarantula hunters'. Well, or more than 2 times more 'powerful' than from a hornet.

Fortunately, the bullet ant is quite difficult to come across. First of all, because it lives in the lowland forests of South America – Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and other countries. Some researchers also met the insect in the mountains – but only in the form of individual specimens, not colonies.

Coloring of ants depends on the habitat and specialization of a particular insect. It can be either dark brown, almost black, with a slight olive tint; or red, closer to red. A distinctive feature is the bright yellow stripes on the forelegs, characteristic of all insects in the colony.

Because of its extremely painful but practically non-lethal poison, the bullet ant is used by Brazilian aborigines for initiation rites. In the ritual, living insects are tied to a special glove, which is then put on the subject's hand for 10-15 minutes. All this time the ants sting the initiate. Because of such a number of bites, the 'victim' is temporarily paralyzed, and then the sensitivity of the fingers disappears for several days. The task of the ritual is the initiation of boys, their transition into adulthood and becoming real warriors.

4th place: Camponotus gigas, up to 28 mm

Rating: 4.7

Camponotus gigas

Camponotus gigas (this species has no Russian official name) is the largest ant in Asia. Found in Thailand, Indonesia and some regions of Malaysia. Individual specimens of this insect grow up to 28 mm in length.

Despite its impressive size and dangerous color, Camponotus gigas is not dangerous to humans. The main part of the ant's diet is the so-called 'sweet liquids' – the fall of aphids and other equally winged insects. In addition, the insect feeds on small invertebrates, fungi and bird droppings. The symbiosis between ants and aphids, as is the case in Russian and European species, is not observed in Camponotus gigas.

Camponotus gigas is almost completely black, except for the belly and hind legs – they are reddish. In addition, the belly, which stores the collected nectar and other food products, is translucent – and therefore glows when the insect is illuminated by the rays of the sun.

An interesting feature of Camponotus gigas is polydomy – a colony of ants lives not in one anthill, but in several, united by a system of passages. Insects make their homes in piles of dead wood and old, rotten trees. Anthills are located at a height of up to 2.5 meters from soil level – this helps to protect against flooding and natural enemies living on the ground – and are 15-20 meters apart from each other. The 'complex' can include up to one and a half dozen 'houses'.

3rd place: Dorylus nigricans, up to 30 mm

Rating: 4.8

Dorylus nigricans

The West African nomadic ants Dorylus nigricans (this species also has no official Russian name) is one of the largest insects on the continent. And even if the working individuals that make up the basis of the colony are not too large – from 3 mm, – migratory males can grow up to 30 millimeters in length. Females can be even larger – isolated cases of encounters with insects up to 50 mm in length have been recorded.

The nomadic ants Dorylus nigricans are discreetly painted. Workers, soldiers, and even females with males are all dark brown, almost black in color. Chitin is mostly shiny, matt only on the head and abdomen. Interestingly, males have darkened, veined wings that are not characteristic of other ant species.

Dorylus nigricans ants are poisonous, but not too dangerous to humans. There were no cases of seeking medical help or death after being bitten by these insects.

Unlike many species of ants, Dorylus nigricans are nomadic. They do not build permanent anthills, preferring to make do with temporary bivouacs. Carnivorous, the diet includes termites and other small invertebrates. Colonies of Dorylus nigricans, wandering from one termite mound to another, are able to destroy a fairly large number of these insects. In addition, these ants are not averse to carrion and can 'ravage' human landfills.

2nd place: Giant dinoponera (Dinoponera gigantea), up to 33 mm

Rating: 4.9

Giant dinoponera (Dinoponera gigantea)

The giant dinoponera, also called the dinosaur ant, is one of the largest members of the family. Working individuals of this species grow up to 33 millimeters in length.

The giant dinoponera is found exclusively in South America. Most of the colonies live in the Amazonian rain forests of Brazil, but individual populations have also been found in the Peruvian savannas. In addition to the large size, it practically does not stand out – even the color is uniform, black-glossy, no distinctive features.

It is not dangerous for a person. When threatened, the ant can bite using its chelicerae, but their strength is not enough to cut through the skin. The giant dinoponera has no sting or poisonous glands.

Interestingly, the giant dinoponera does not have a female queen. There are males. The ant reproduces by 'using' gamergat – that is, working individuals that have genitals and hormones. Almost every member of the family is capable of reproduction.

Partly because of this reproduction mechanics, the giant dinoponera lives in very small colonies, numbering only a few dozen individuals. The anthill is located underground, on average at a depth of 40 centimeters, and consists of 5-10 chambers connected by passages.

1st place: Myrmecia brevinoda, up to 36 mm

Rating: 5.0

Myrmecia brevinoda

Myrmecia brevinoda (also has no official Russian name) belongs to the so-called 'primitive ants'. Representatives of this family are some of the oldest insects on earth. This is partly why they are so large – working individuals of Myrmecia brevinoda are able to grow up to 36 mm in length.

Myrmecia brevinoda was endemic to the eastern and southern regions of Australia until it was met by humans. Human vessels transported females and males – accidentally, not purposefully – also to New Zealand, where the ant liked both the climate and the living conditions. So now this species can be found on the island where the Lord of the Rings was filmed.

Myrmecia brevinoda is not harmful to humans. The ant has a developed sting and large chelicerae, but its poison has no harmful effect. So the bites are painful, but not extremely and without dangerous consequences. And Myrmecia brevinoda is easy to recognize – the ant is large, lean and painted in a bright red-brown color. The black glossy abdomen stands out from the rest of the body. The ants have a large head and huge (in comparison with other insects) eyes, however, no evidence of visual acuity similar to that of the bulldog ant has been obtained.

Myrmecia brevinoda builds anthills in the form of hills, whose height is up to 70 centimeters. The 'population' of the colony, however, is not very large – the maximum recorded population is 2.5 thousand individuals. As a result, an unoccupied space remains in the nests, which is quickly populated by other species of ants, as well as the larvae of various insects.

Working individuals of Myrmecia brevinoda are divided into two groups. Large specimens (up to 36 mm in length) settle on the upper levels of the anthill and are engaged in the extraction of food – plants and animals. Small individuals (from 13 mm in length) are located at the bottom. Their task is to dig the ground under the anthill, creating a complex system of moves.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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