Identifying an ant species in my apartment (Caroline, Brisbane, Australia)


Hi there,

I live in Brisbane in Australia, and recently a species of ant has been snooping around a pot plant in my first floor apartment.

I haven't been able to figure out what sort of ant it is, but I'd be interested in finding out.  I also have house ants sneaking in the same area (which I'm trying to discourage as they bring in aphids) and the two species seem to get along just fine.

I've attached a few pictures to help with identification.

Many thanks,
Caroline
Brisbane, Australia


Dear Caroline,

Thank you for contacting AntAsk and sending photos regarding the ants you have in your apartment in Brisbane, Australia.  There are actually quite a few helpful resources for identifying ants in your region.  I will include some links below, but I think the resource that would be most helpful is a small pocket guide book "Ants of Brisbane" available at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane (and likely in other bookstores): http://www.southbank.qm.qld.gov.au/en/Shop/Books/Pocket+Guides/Ants+of+Brisbane

It appears to me that the ants you are finding in your plants belong to the genus Polyrhachis, sometimes called "spiny ants":

http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_ants/golden_ant.htm

These ants do not sting and are rarely aggressive.  As they can tend plant feeding insects for honeydew, this is likely the reason you are finding them on your houseplants. Here are some more useful links to ants in Australia (sometimes these links need to be reloaded several times to work, so be patient):

http://anic.ento.csiro.au/ants/
http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_ants/

If you know where the ants are coming into your home, you could try to discourage them from coming in.  This can be done several ways including making sure their food sources are unavailable. In this case you will need to make sure you get rid of all plant feeding insects such as aphids, scale insects, etc. Another option would be to block them from coming into your home. There are many products available for this at your local hardware store, but you could also try using a very fine, silty powder (such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper, diatomaceous earth, corn starch, etc.) to plug any holes the ants are using to come into your home.

Thanks again for sending photos of your beautiful ants!

Corrie Moreau & the AntAsk Team

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