Bull ant colonies are considered the smartest, deadliest, and highly aggressive insects in the world, commonly found in open areas like forests, sandplains, and gardens.
How Long Do Bull Ants Live? Bull ants can live for almost 1.5 to 2 years, but their queens have a longer lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. The males cannot survive over a few months and die after mating. An unbalanced diet, increased risk of a predator attack, and physical activities can lead to early death.
Bull ants belonging to the genus Myrmecia do not tolerate any interference in their nests or undesired entries in the territories. They kill the invaders with their poisonous stings and bites.
What is the average lifespan of bull ants?
Bull ants are known to be the deadliest insect in a group of ants due to their venomous stings and powerful mandibles that can put a larger animal down.
It is better to be careful of their stings or bites and collect information about their lifespan, eating habits, and nesting locations to avoid them.
Their colonies comprise different castes or genders, which have varying lifespans. On average, the lifespan of these jack jumper ants is around 1.5 to 2 years if conditions are ideal.
Any changes in environmental conditions can bring slight or even noticeable modifications in their lifespan, as they have to die earlier after an unexpected attack.
Similarly, any natural disaster can also lead to the death of the whole ant colony because they are not good at avoiding the risk of flooding their nests and dying after drowning.
However, the situations can be favorable for their survival and allow them to live a few more days with plenty of food to overcome the loss of energy and get more nutrients.
Female workers can survive for almost 2 years when they do not have the burden of tasks, but their colonies contain only a few hundred members, which means they have to work a lot.
Increased physical activities or walking long distances raises the risk of predation and earlier aging, as they feel more exhausted than inactive members and die earlier.
Furthermore, the males and queens have different lifespans than the workers, as reproductive males live for less than a year because their purpose in life is to mate and die.
Reproductive females or queens can spend almost 12 to 15 years in a colony, allowing colonies to propagate by introducing new eggs and larvae.
What factors affect the lifespan of bull ants?
A few factors affect the lifespan of bulldog ants in a colony that needs to be considered when you are trying to know their average life.
Bulldog ants cannot resist abrupt or sudden changes in their environment as they need time to build strategies to cope with stress conditions such as rain, cold weather, or winds.
They predict rains and shift their colonies to safe places, but unexpected rains can cause flooding of their outdoor nests and make them die.
In the same way, they have to store food for winter and build indoor nests before cold weather, but the early arrival of winter can disturb their activities and pose a risk of freezing.
Heavy rainfalls and strong winds can cause the destruction of their mounds and nests above the ground, which leads to the dispersion of colonies as most members die after getting lost.
Exposure to predators
The rate of exposure to predators can increase or decrease their lifespan because these tiny insects have to die when their opponent is a larger organism that cannot be killed.
These tiny creatures fight until death even if the predators are larger, but the chances of winning the battle are lesser in such battles.
Workers mostly remain out of the nests for foraging purposes and travel a long distance away from the nests. Sometimes, bull ants are involved in individual foraging and get caught by predators.
Accordingly, they are at more risk of being predated than other inactive members like nursing workers, drones, and queens that usually spend most of their lives within nests.
Availability of food
Dietary habits also affect longevity because a highly nutritious diet allows them to survive many years, while an unbalanced diet can reduce a few months of their lives.
The queens get better food in a bull ant colony as all workers care for her to ensure colony survival. She is the only one responsible for laying eggs, so she needs good food to eat and lay eggs.
In addition, the drones are also fed by workers before mating, as healthy males get a chance to fly higher and mate with the queen. These reproductive are well-fed members in a colony.
However, the males have to die after mating because they do not get food from the colony and are thrown out of the nests because they cannot mate again.
In contrast, the queens live longer than all other colony members because she is considered the mother or a royal member and gets the royal treatment from the workers.
She does not go out to search for her food and remains inside the colony. In the same way, the workers of wild species die earlier than those living in captivity.
Gender determines their roles in a colony, and a lifespan, as males and females ants have different lifespans.
The winged males or drones are produced for mating purposes and remain active within the nest. They come out of the nests in mating season, transfer sperms to females, and die in a few weeks.
However, bull ants colonies consist of sterile female workers and fertile queens with varying lifespans. The fertile queens are bigger-winged females that are involved in reproduction.
So, these winged females live for many years compared to their mates and other smaller workers.
Number of queens
The number of queens in a colony can determine the lifespan of a bull ant colony because the colonies are more at risk of death when there is only one queen.
Any external or biological factors can lead to the death of a single queen, which means there will be no more eggs and new generations, and the colony survives only until the adult members live.
Accordingly, polygynous colonies can survive longer because the death of one queen does not affect the overall colony growth.
Bulldog ant colonies usually have one queen, as only a few hundred workers constitute a colony, but occasionally, it can reach up to 5 queens in one nest.
What do bull ants prefer to eat?
Adult bull ants are omnivorous and can eat various sugary food items to protein-rich meats. They also reach flowering plants to suck nectar from nectaries.
Their larger jaws also allow them to devour bodies of dead insects and animals to eat their meat. They are also powerful enough to carry the dead insects back to their nests.
In addition, they can also consume seeds, fruits, and fungal growths on leaf litter to get nutrition. They have an increased lifespan due to their diet habits, as they can switch their food types.
Furthermore, the larvae of jack-jumper ants are purely carnivorous, consuming tiny insects and smaller invertebrates fed by adult workers.