Mon 19 Mar 2012
Despite its name and appearance, a blue ant is not an ant but a species of parasitic wasp, sometimes known as flower wasp from the Tiphiidae family. They are indigenous to Southern Australia including Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory. Their scientific name is Diamma bicolor. Their principal habitats are forests, woodlands and also in urban areas. They are encountered across Australia but are more focused in southern parts of the continent.
A blue ant has a metallic blue green body with red legs. The female can grow up to 1 inch; they are ground-dweller, have no wings and their primary task is to hunt for tunneling mole crickets. Once she locates one, their prey (cricket) is stung by the female and paralyzed by inserting venom. Then they lay an egg upon it so that the larvae have ready supply of food once hatched. Although they are wasps, they closely appear like ants, hence named blue ants.
The male blue ant is littler in size, around 0.5 inch, have wings. Adults of both sexes are usually found on flowers, feeding on nectar and pollinating native Australian flowers. Their movements are restless, jerky with raised abdomen. They are single in nature. Males are black with white marks on their abdomen. They look more like a routine wasp as compared to the females.
A sting from a female blue ant can be harmful. It may develop into life threatening responses such as anaphylaxis to people who are allergic to bee or wasp stings. They need rapid medical attention. A blue ant sting causes serious burning and swelling on the site of the bite. But as blue ants are not frequently found, they are not considered a concern species unlike social species of ants, wasps and bees. Like most insects, they only sting if displaced so always keep away from them.
However, unlike bees, they can sting more than once and do not expire after stinging. If they are several stings, then there may be extreme systematic reactions which call for immediate medical attention. If stung by a blue ant, then applying ice pack on the site of bite will help scale back pain. You can also wash the site with warm water and apply disinfectant. Do not rub profusely to avoid infection. If you are touring blue ants’ habitats, make sure you are wearing close toed shoes and socks, full-length pants and full-sleeved shirts. If you are sensitive to bee/wasp/ant stings, then always carry a special kit while traveling.