What does a Bigheaded Ant look like?
Bigheaded ants are an invasive species that pose a serious threat to native ant populations in the United States. As one of the “World’s worst” invaders, it has been nominated.
Workers are dimorphic (major and minor workers). This species of ant is known as “Bigheaded Ants” due to the large-headed “soldier” ants. Crushing seeds is possible thanks to the huge mandibles they have. In comparison to the minor workers, soldiers are twice as large at four millimeters, although they only account for a tiny fraction of foragers overall (about 1%).
The major’s head is sculpted on the front and gleaming on the back. Both worker forms have a two-segmented petiole (waist) and a swelling post-petiolar node. 12-segmented antenna with a three-segmented club. The body is completely covered in long, sparse hair. Short propodeal spines (the spines on the worker’s waist) are oriented virtually. The stomach normally has a dark mark on the underside. In all cases, the hue can range from a brownish-yellow or brownish-red, to an almost black.
There are far more minor workers than soldiers. Tree trunks, branches, and canopies are littered with ant trails that lead to countless foraging tunnels beneath the surface of the ground. There are similar tubes constructed by underground termites that could be mistaken for these. The foraging ants will signal the presence of new food sources to the colony. Major and minor workers will eat honeydew, and bring other foods back to the colony, which they share with each other.
When there is anything that is too large to carry, it is dissected and returned to the nest. Aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and planthopper excrement provide food for the bigheaded ants, which also feed on dead insects and small invertebrates. Sap-sucking insects flourish in the presence of large-headed ants and are more common in areas where ants are active.