What Are Big-Headed Ants?

Ants have distinguishing features that make them different from each other, as some are known for their physical characteristics, like big-headed ants, while a few are known for painful stings.

What Are Big-Headed Ants? Bigheaded ants are known for their extremely large heads, mainly seen in the major soldier ants of 2 to 4.5mm size. Moreover, they have large colonies interconnected to build supercolonies consisting of workers, soldiers, males, and multiple queens. Furthermore, they are omnivores found in Hawaii, Australia, and Florida.

It is challenging to deal with the big-headed ants as they have a massive population spread outdoors and indoors, living inside the soil and locating food sources.

Facts About Big-Headed Ants

Scientific name Pheidole megacephala
Distribution locations Australia and Florida
Type of colony 250 to 300 or a supercolony
Length of body 2 to 4.5 mm
Shape of antennae Curved and segmented
Appearance Brown to black
Eating habits Omnivorous
Life expectancy 39 to 76 days
Painful bite No
Presence of stinger No

What type of ants are called bigheaded ants?

The bigheaded ants are known for the disproportionally larger head seen in their workers. It appears in a heart shape that is different in shape from the round-headed insects.

This term is mainly attributed to major workers serving as soldiers and protecting the colony. They have larger jaws that help them crack the hard food particles to provide them to others.

Moreover, they are one of the invasive species of ants that have the worst impact on the environment and are challenging to manage due to the increased reproduction rate all the year.

Furthermore, this major group of these tiny creatures accounts for only 1% to 2% of the population. The minor ants, or the female workers, are about 2 to 2.5mm long and have shorter heads.

In contrast, the major workers or soldiers are almost 3 to 4.5mm in length specifying bigger heads. Therefore, it is easy to identify the major ones due to their large heads compared to the body.

What does a big-headed ant look like? 

A big-headed ant body looks similar to the regular insects of these types, but their beads are bigger than standard size; that is a distinguishing characteristic.

In addition, they appear reddish brown, light-yellow, and slightly black in color. The reproductive males and females have wings for a nuptial flight in the air during the reproduction phase.

The back side of the head appears shiny and smooth, while the front side is slightly sculptured. Their antennae are not straight and are divided into 12 further segments.

Moreover, their bodies are covered with long hair having spines on their waist area. In addition to two antennae, six legs are also standard in every type of these insects.

Where do big-headed ants build their nests?

The big-headed ants are commonly found in Australia, where people like to eat them and grow on a large scale.

In addition, a large population of these insects is also present in Hawaii and Florida, providing a tropical and subtropical climate for living in ideal conditions.

They have a large population in the southern US and range from Kansas and spread to the regions including Virginia.

They build nests, usually in the soil having stones and logs, and reside in potted plants. The base of walkways, slab foundations, and rotten wood have distinct piles of soil and nests.

These can enter through cracks and narrow places in the walls and slabs and build their nests indoors.

Most commonly, they are present close to firewood, leaf litter, and walls allowing heavy infestations that are difficult to control as they have massive colonies.

What do bigheaded ants eat?

They are omnivorous and eat smaller insects, including dead and living ones with soft scales and whiteflies.

Moreover, they are aphid farming insects that have developed symbiotic relations providing protection to these soft-bodied insects and getting nutrition in the form of honeydew from them.

They like to forage on sweet items containing plenty of sugar, providing energy.

They can also consume small invertebrates, mealybugs, and plant hoppers, providing an excellent nutritional value to their diet.

Furthermore, food items rich in fat are susceptible to their attack as they are always searching for a food source that can provide instant energy for the long term.

You can find the trails of these ants inside homes as they attack proteinaceous food particles dropped on the floor or left open on the countertop.

You can also observe feeding behavior between the two of these minor and major worker ants by exchanging food in a specific manner.

How long does a big-headed ant live?

The big-headed queen ant can produce 280 to 300 eggs in a month that can hatch in 48 to 96 hours. These eggs develop into larvae fed by sterile female workers and turn into larvae.

Moreover, these pupae take almost 15 to 20 days to become an adult and enter the maturity stage. Finally, in the adult stage, the fertile males and females leave their nests for nuptial flight.

However, the sterile females take control of the nest and participate in activities like food collection and cleaning.

The worker ants do not have a longer lifespan and can only live for almost 39 to 76 days, and new workers replace them in the nest.

Furthermore, the queens can live longer than a worker as they stay inside a nest, having a lesser risk of predator attack.

The guarding insects have a shorter lifespan as they lose their lives while protecting the nests from more giant insects.

What is the size of a bigheaded ant colony?

Supercolonies also exist, having multiple colonies interconnected with each other through scent trails and extended on large surface areas.

Moreover, such colonies are formed by the big-headed ants, consisting of dozens of members in each group joined together with interlocking trails.

These colonies consist of worker ants, soldiers, males, and multiple queens taking control of the colony’s population.

The minor workers collect food and move to far areas to source food. However, the major ones are less in number, having significantly larger heads helping in fighting with invaders.

Is big-headed ant sting painful?

They do not get aggressive and are not considered dangerous until you have interfered in their nests and disturbed their larvae and queen.

They lack stingers, which makes them unable to cause a painful sting, and they can only bite, but their bite is not painful, unlike the burning sensation caused by the bite of a bullet ant.

Moreover, you are at risk of getting a bite only if they feel threatened and discomforted by any activity.

Furthermore, their bites have no such painful sensation as no stinger enters deep inside the skin and injects poison.

So, you do not have to think about their stings and devise strategies to get rid of their massive colonies that can cause structural damage to homes and wilting of plants.

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