Species: Iridomyrmex purpureus
Common names: Large Purple Meat Ant
Ants of this genus have been in the news lately as a possible control for cane toads. I know of two nests of these ants in the Reserve – one in the picnic area beside Fort Road and the other on the ridge to the east of the Passionist Fathers’ property. These aggressive ants develop very large colonies and build massive underground nests with many entrances under a gravelly dome. They dominate their territory. Note how they have cleared the area around their nest in the picnic area of all vegetation and maintain a cleared pathway to a feeding area near Fort Road. These ants lack a sting but have powerful jaws and they repel any attacks by their sheer weight of numbers. Is there any boy who hasn’t stomped across a meat ant’s nest just to watch the ants “boil” out of their entrance holes to defend their territory? Note the size of the gravel on the top of the nest. The stones are just small enough to be carried down an entrance hole. These ants are active all year and they use the stones to “air condition” their nest. The stones heat up during the day and can be carried into the nest on a cold night.
I recently found another nest on the northern side of the reserve.