Ant Room Tour | Bull Ants

Hi guys, my name’s Jordan Dean and in this
video, I’m going back to roots a little. Giving you all a brief look the various ants
I’m keeping. And do I have a LOT to show you guys! There’s the Bigheaded ants, in their
naturalist terrarium… The Sugar ants, who have been slowly but surely progressing… The Argentine Ants, who’ve now exploded in population… Plus some new additions, like Spiny Ants Dracula Ants Meat Ants Strobe Ants and more. In this episode, we’ll be looking at some
of the largest and deadliest ants in the world, they’re known as Bull ants.
And, to celebrate the release of our new range of acrylic nests, we’ll be running a little
contest. So stay tuned until the end for all the entry details.
Before I get started, I just to make it clear that Bull Ants, that is, any species within
the genus Myrmecia, should only be kept by experienced ant keepers. Their stings can
be quite painful, and if you’re allergic to their venom, they could potentially be
fatal too. So, if you’re new to the hobby and are looking to get started, think about
beginning with some more forgiving ants. Ants like Pheidole or Camponotus.
With that now said, let’s begin the ant tour First up, it’s my colony of Jumping Jacks. Myrmecia pilosula. Last seen in my Bull Ant
documentary, almost a year ago now. Back then, I had them housed in a tubs and tubes setup,
and as they grew, I cycled them through various nests of acrylic… and ytong… Today, they’re housed in one of our new acrylic nests, and have since produced another
two generations of workers, 14 in total now. And the next generation is on their way. You
can see there’s quite a healthy pile of eggs there, which the ants like to position
within the most humid parts of their nest, so as to keep them from drying out.
They also have a few small larvae too, you can see just in the bottom left there. I’ve
come to realize, with Bull Ants, and many other ants, they often collect fine substrate
like sand and dirt, to aid the larvae in the spinning of their cocoons. You’ll notice
there’s a fair amount of sand lining areas of the nest. Once the larvae are ready to
transform into their pupal stage, they use these little pieces like scaffolding for their
silken strands. Watch as this worker covers up her developing sister with a sheet of sand
and silk. Almost like she’s tucking her in for bed. Which isn’t actually far from
the truth. Eventually, they’ll form their silk into a sleeping bag-like construction.
And in here, they’ll reside, until they develop into workers.
What I love most about these guys, and Bull ants in general, is their incredible vision.
Whenever I come to check up on them, they’ll turn their heads and follow any slight movement
I make. Originally this colony was quite timid around my presence, and would flee back to the safety of their nest at the first the sight of me, but with
their growth in population, they seem to have grown in confidence too. So now, whenever
they’re disturbed, they flood out of the nest, and with their excellent vision, they
charge towards anything they see. Not so much responding with aggression, but rather, curiosity.
I think they’ve caught onto the fact that whenever I come and check up on them, that
usually means it’s feeding time. So, they’ve learned to associated my presence with being
fed. Pretty cool, right? I always use extra-long tweezers when working
around these fellas, and for good reason. Not only do they pack a nasty sting, but they
can jump too. Several centimeters in fact. So the further away my hands are from them,
the better. I do have some fluon lined around the upper edges of their foraging area, but
these guys are great climbers, and a couple of times I’ve actually seen them jump up
and over the barrier, and then just casually crawl across my table. So, I’ve got to be
quick. Do what needs to be done, and then get their escape proof lid back on asap. I’ve
been keeping a tally on how many workers the colony has, so afterwards, just in case, I
can count them off to make sure there’s none missing. Which is easy enough to do when
there’s just 14 workers. Although, as the colony expands, I think changing to a more
secure outworld would be a good idea. Now, onto the monsters. This beauty is a Myrmecia
simillima queen. Commonly known as a Giant Bull Ant, and earns its name, this one measures
in at around 25mm from head to tail. Roughly twice the size of the Jumping Jacks.
Currently, she’s only just beginning her colony, and has several larvae present, which
she constantly tends to. All bull ant queens found their colonies in a semi-claustral manner,
meaning they must leave their claustral chamber to forage for food whilst their first generation
of workers develop. For this reason, I’ve got this queen housed in a tubs and tubes
setup. This little bottle cap here is full of, what
I’ve found to be most ants’ favourite food, pure raw honey. What’s great about
honey is that, as long as it hasn’t been watered down or isn’t exposed to high humidity
levels, it won’t ever go bad. This single cap full has sustained this queen for a couple
of months now. She simply comes out and feeds from the reliably fresh and nourishing honey
whenever she likes. And because she doesn’t need to be disturbed as often by her keeper,
upon the removal and replacement of any perishable foods, it reduces the chances of her consuming
her eggs, or ceasing to lay, out of stress. So, it’s a super practical and effective
method of feeding. The queens themselves can live off sugars,
like honey, alone. But their brood, on the other hand, are carnivorous. So once their
first batch of eggs hatch into their larval stage, like this one’s have, they then must
go out and hunt. So now, additionally, I provide this queen with all sort of bugs. Earwigs are a favourite. The larvae are eating machines. Often leaving
no sign of the prey behind, chewing through and devouring exoskeletons and all. And as
soon as they’re done with their meals, they crave more. So the queen acts like a mother
bird tending to her chicks. Constantly at work foraging for the choicest meals, to make
sure that her young grow up big and strong. Next up, is another especially large giant.
Here we have a Myrmecia pyriformis queen. She measures in around 30mm from head to tail.
To put that size into perspective, here she is side by side with some commonly found ants.
On the bottom are Rainbow Ants (Iridomyrmex), your average sized ant. In the middle, Banded
Sugar Ants, one of Australia’s larger species of Camponotus. And dwarfing them both is this
beast. Despite her massive size, and rather menacing
appearance, she’s by far the timidest bull ant in my collection. At the slightest hint
of danger, she quickly flees back to the safety of her test tube. Super sensitive to light,
vibration and any movements, and thus, she’s quite susceptible to eating her eggs. Prior
to her current batch here, she’d eaten the previous two. So I think I’m going to leave
her completely undisturbed for a good month or two and see how she goes. Hopefully it’s
third time lucky. So, they aren’t just giant, fearless killing
machines. They do have a soft side. Watch here as she tenderly picks up one of her eggs
with her mandibles. She has to be incredibly careful, if she were to apply just a little
too much pressure, her huge serrated teeth would shred the egg right open. It’s amazing
just how gentle they can be. Next, we have yet another giant. This one
is a Myrmecia nigriscapa queen. Same as the pyriformis, she also measures in at around
30mm, head to tail, but other than that, they have very little in common. Where the pyriformis
queen is timid and anxious, this one’s bold and rash.
And just recently, her eggs have begun hatching into larvae, so I’m having to frequently
disturb her for feeding, and it’s quite scary at times. As soon as I open up her lid,
she bolts out of her tube and attacks anything that moves, attempting to bite and sting it
into a retreat. She remains on high alert, defense mode, well after her perceived threat
is gone. Even when she’s relatively undisturbed, I often see her prowling around her foraging
area with some haste. She really is quite a character. It’ll be interesting once her
first workers begin to arrive. Hopefully they’re not all as crazy as she is. Workers are still
a long way off though. Generally, the larger the species of ant,
the slower their growth rates are from egg to worker. It takes my Jumping Jacks, which
are less than half the size of this one, at least a few months to fully develop. So, it’ll
likely be several for the all the giants. Needless to say, it takes a great deal of
patience to get a colony of these guys going. Perhaps several years before they reach a
mature size. But I’m fine with that. For me, I think it makes all the typical ant keeping
milestones, like when the queen lays her first batch of eggs, or raises up a new generation
of workers, that much more satisfying. So that’s all for the Giant Bull Ants, now,
moving onto the Toothless ones. Here we have a small colony of Myrmecia piliventris. Easily
some of the prettiest ants I’ve ever seen…and also some of the scariest. Not only are they
extremely large and agile, but they can jump too! They’re like Jumping Jacks on steroids!
Here you can see the size difference between the two…Needless to say, these guys take
some nerve to be around. They’re commonly known as Toothless Bull
Ants, as their mandibles lack the prominent serrations found on most of the other bull
ants. So they look rather slender and quirky. Although, sometimes these guys are simply
referred to as Golden-tailed Bull Ants too, for obvious reasons. Here you can see the queen of the colony. Who vaguely stands out from the rest, with
her slightly larger frame. I find she’s very calm when compared to her workers. Whenever
I disturb them to feed or hydrate their nest, all the workers rush around in a panic, but
she usually just sits there motionlessly, which is quite odd. I find usually the opposite
is true. These ants are really quite sensitive light, so I try to keep them covered up as
much as possible. This jumbo playing card acts as neat little cover. Shout out to Eli,
over at Ants Invasion, for idea. See how the ants are all bunched up on the
right side of the nest? This is the moistened side. Through various testing, I’ve found
this species prefers a relatively humid nesting environment. So, I’ve been injecting around
5ml of fresh water into either one of the sides once every 4 days or so.
A common misconception with ytong, is that, when the material isn’t visibly wet, it
means that it’s in need of more water. Because of this, you often hear of people hydrating
their nests once every few hours. This is entirely unnecessary, and depending on the
humidity preferences of the ants you’re raising, it could potentially be deadly too.
Ytong acts like a sponge, it soaks the water in, and gravity pulls it down, into the base
of the material. The water then evaporates upwards, providing the ants with a slow and
steady release of humidity. So, don’t stress if the nest looks visibly dry less than a
couple of days after hydrating. Now, onto another, even prettier looking Toothless
Bull Ant. Here we have a lone Myrmecia fulvipes queen. You can see this species is quite similar
looking to piliventris, but instead of having black legs, they have bright orangey-reddish
ones. I just love the vibrant colouration. A truly stunning looking ant.
The good news is, she has just recently laid a batch of eggs. Bad news, she has mites.
Lots of mites. She’s covered in these little things. From what I’ve gathered, they’re
in a stage known as the hypopus. In this stage, the mites don’t actually feed on their host,
but simply latch on as a means of dispersal. So, fingers crossed they drop off without
doing her any harm. You’ll notice she’s been housed a little
differently to the other queens. With her test tube covered up and connected to her
foraging area externally, rather than being placed inside. This is my preferred means
of raising queens. As it allows you check up on them with minimal disturbance. You just
simply slide off the cover of their tube. More on how to set one of these up in my “Tubs
and Tubes” tutorial here. Now, onto a rare and rather odd looking species.
Here we have Myrmecia nobilis, commonly known as the “Wide-jawed Bull Ant”. I say it’s
odd, in that, they have a very stocky frame for a bull ant. Especially notable when you compare the mandibles. Perhaps that’s
where the species name of “no-BIL-is” was derived.
What I also found peculiar, is that she really pulsates her abdomen. Most insects have large
air sacs within this part of their body, and so, compress and expand them, so as to breath.
Ants do this to some extent too, but I’ve never seen the action quite as pronounced
as this. It looks very wasp-like. Which I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised over.
Bull ants, in general, are quite primitive ants, not so far removed from their wasp-like
ancestors. Now, I’m not actually certain whether this
is a queen, or just a worker. The usual queen giveaway is the scaring on either side of
the thorax, where the ants’ wings used to be, and you can usually tell by the overall
enlarged thorax when compared to the workers too. But the scaring on her isn’t clearly
evident, and because this species is rare, it’s hard to find workers for a cross reference.
Very little is known of these ants, which will make raising up and studying a colony
of them, that much more fascinating. So, fingers crossed she’s both a queen and fertile.
I’ll just have to wait and see. So that’s all the Bull ants I’ve got to
show you guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. Well, the first part of the tour anyway.
I’ve got a lot more ants to show you guys. Including that Pheidole colony in the naturalistic
setup, which I know many of you have been long awaiting see. And remember those Argentine
ants, featured in my documentary? Well, I’ve still got them…and have they lived up to
their reputation. We’ve had to make some serious upgrades for these guys. Here’s their
outworld… and here’s their new nest. Think it’s big enough? A video on these crazy
things coming soon. Now, onto the contest. Firstly, I just want
to thank you guys for the overwhelming support here on YouTube. Since day one I’ve been reading
all of your comments and the amazing, encouraging and constructive feedback, has really driven
me to improve and innovate my content. So much so, that Ants Australia is now bigger
than me, a team of people in fact, working hard to make ant keeping an accessible and
affordable hobby for everyone. We’ll never forget that it’s you, our fans, who built
us up, and so, as way of giving back to the community, over the next few videos, we’re
going to be giving away some of our new acrylic nests. All you have to do, is leave a comment
below answering, “what particular aspect of ants do you find most fascinating?” This could
be in regard to their behavior, biology, taxonomy, ect. We’ll pick out our most favourite,
insightful comment. The winner will receive one of our size 3 acrylic nests, in their
choice of either green or red. Stay tuned, we’ll reveal the winner in our next video.
In the meantime, head over to our new Ants Australia Community channel, run by who were
formally known as Ant Mate. We’re excited to announce that the team over there have
now joined forces with ours. Over on this channel, you’ll find regular ant content.
Ant keeping tutorials, colony updates, and we’ll also be featuring other ant tubers,
like our good friends Eli from Ant Invasion, and James from Ants International. And if
you’re feeling lucky, we’ll also be running regular contests with more awesome prizes
to won. All the links will be in the description bellow.
A few more announcements before I go. Firstly, we’ve been getting lots of feedback from
disappointed fans, especially from Europe and the US, saying that our shipping costs
are just far too high, and understandably so. We’ve been working long and hard to
amend this issue, and we’re happy to announce, we’ve just struck a deal with Australia
Post, and have managed to drastically drop shipping costs worldwide. So now, you hopefully
won’t be paying more in shipping than the purchase itself.
Secondly, given we’re just in our first month of spring here in Australia, our nuptial flights
season is just beginning. Keep your eyes peeled for queens. If you don’t have any luck finding one yourselves, or you’re after a difficult to find species,
we’re now offering queen ants and colonies for sale on our store. So far, we’ve found
queens of Furnace ants, Jumping Jacks, Giant Bull Ants, and more. Just a reminder that
these ants are for Australians ONLY, and we do not condone the import or export of exotic
species. And lastly, because of you guys and your incredible
support, I’m now taking this whole YouTube thing on full time. So, expect to see more regular content from now on. Exciting time
ahead! As always, thanks for watching this video and I hope you enjoyed.

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