Australian Ants

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No one can live in or visit Australia without having personal contact with ants. From the most isolated Outback sand dune to the busiest city street, ants are everywhere.

  • Australian ants are hardly shy. They happily live and nest in our parks and gardens as well as in our busiest cities.
  • Ant nests can be huge with tens of thousands of workers and extensive mounds, or small with only a handful of workers clustered together in small cavities between rocks or inside twigs.
  • While many Australian ants are found everywhere, others are among the rarest invertebrates in Australia. Some species can be found over vast areas while others have been encountered fewer than 10 times.

The ant fauna of Australia is especially large and diverse. World-wide there are about 300 genera and about 15,000 described species and subspecies of ants. Australia is currently known to have representatives of about 100 genera and 1300 described species and subspecies.

While the numbers of Australian genera are unlikely to increase significantly, the number of species may well double as species-level studies are completed. Thus Australia currently has representatives of one-third of its genera and, as far as we know, about 15% of its species. A few of the genera found in Australia occur nowhere else, and many are shared with only its closest neighbours. Most of the species, however, are limited to Australia with only a minority occurring in both Australia and neighbouring regions.

Australia compares well with other regions of the world in terms of number of genera and species, and in the number of groups which are unique to the region. Australia has fewer genera than Central and South America and South-east Asia (i.e. Malaysia to New Guinea), about the same number as the Orient (i.e. Pakistan to Vietnam), and more than North America, Europe and northern Asia and Africa. Central and South America and Africa have the largest number of genera limited to a single region, South-east Asia and Australia have about the same number of restricted genera, and Europe and northern Asia, North America and the Orient have the fewest unique genera. When comparing species, Australia has fewer than Central and South America, Africa or South-east Asia, about the same number as Europe or northern Asia, and more than North America or the Orient.

Overview of Ants


Distribution Patterns


Identification Keys