What bit me? Azman (Malaysia)


Recently, I was bitten by this particular ant on one of my toes and I found the pain was extremely excruciating. The pain was not the typical type of ant bite and my toe did bleed because of the bite. The characteristic was when I brushed off the ant from my feet, the head of the ant was still sticking to my toe while it has been separated from the body. I would like to know what is the exact scientific name for this ant. This ant is found in West Malaysia when i was in region of Seremban. Hopefully you would be able to shed some light on this ant. Thank you

Regards, Azman

Malaysian termite.jpg

Soldiers of the termite Macrotermes carbonarius in Malaysia.


Dear Azman,

Thank you very much for contacting us at AntAsk and for providing this great picture! From the picture, it becomes clear that you actually got bitten by a termite, not an ant. Many different types of organisms mimic ants and we have a post on ant mimics here. A particular post that helps to tell apart ants from termites (termites are sometimes confused with ants) is found here.

To tell which species of termite bit you, we contacted a termite expert, Brian Forschler. Here is what he had to say:

"That 'ant' is most likely the termite Macrotermes carbonarius. The big-headed ones are the soldiers that would have been responsible for the bite. They are a species that builds mounds for their nest site and they can, not too often, forage above ground (they usually tunnel through the soil in search of food). The above ground foraging is a bit of an odd phenomenon that is part of a study being conducted at Universiti Sains Malaysia under Dr. Chow-Yang Lee. You might ask Azam to contact him for more details."

Brian Forschler (Guest Expert), Steffi Kautz & the AntAsk Team

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