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Killer ants

Killer ants is a term to describe any of several species of ants that are predatory, attack en masse when their mounds are disturbed, and can kill animals many times their size, even deer if they are immobilized. They have been called the fiercest predators on Earth. Predator ants kill more individuals than all the big predators combined.

The most commonly cited example of killer ants are the Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA, IFA, Solenopsis invicta).

Other kinds of killer ants include:

Name Range Comments
The first two entries are Velvet ants (all ants are related to wasps, but Velvet ants really are wasps, Mutillidae) Reference (http://ag.arizona.edu/urbanipm/insects/bees/velvetants)
Velvet Ants: Cow killers (Dasymutilla occidentalis) Eastern USA A fanciful name; they cannot kill animals as large as cows.
Velvet Ants: Red velvet ants (Dasymusilla magnifica) Western USA
Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) Argentina, Southern Europe, Southern USA, California Very small, attack mostly other ants. The main supercolony (Italy, Atlantic coast of Spain) is said to be the largest cooperating ant population in the World.
Pharaoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis) Worldwide In February 2000, an invasion of Pharaoh ants terrorized office workers in Berlin, Germany.
Red harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) Western USA Bright red. Images (http://www.tightloop.com/ants/pogbar.htm)
Bulldog ants (Soldier ants, Genus Myrmecia) Australia They are said to be repelled by yellow objects.
Bullet ants (Paraponera clavata)
Honeypot ants[?] (genus Myrmecocystus)
Amazon ants (Polyergus breviceps)
Yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes) Kill red crabs on Christmas Island.
New World Army ants[?] (Eciton burchelli) South America, Southern Mexico See below; Reference (http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/eciton/e._burchelli%24narrative)
Driver ants[?] (Subfamily Dorylinae, Subgenus Anomma) West Africa and the Congo Basin See below.

Army and Driver ants appear to be the most dangerous of the killer ants. Driver ants can reduce a tethered cow to polished bone in several weeks. A few cases of human deaths (inebriated or infant) have been reported.


These images are copyrighted as indicated, and are used by permission (see Talk page for details) from the author, Bart Drees, Director, Texas Imported Fire Ant Project, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University.

Many more images like these can be seen at their Fire Ant Web site (Home Page (http://fireant.tamu.edu/), Photos (http://fireant.tamu.edu/materials/graphics/photo/photo)).

Cow killer ants
©Bart Drees
Crazy ants
©Bart Drees
Pharaoh ants
©Bart Drees
Red Harvester ants
©Bart Drees
Red Imported Fire Ants
©Bart Drees

See Also

You may be looking for horror movies or books involving fanciful killing ants. These include:

  • Them (1954)
  • The Monolith Monsters (1957)
  • Phase IV (1973)
  • The Deadly Invasion (1973)
  • Ants (1977 - TV movie)
  • Empire of the Ants (1977 - movie and novel) Based on a story by H.G. Wells.
  • The Nest (1987) Killer cockroaches
  • Arachnophobia (1990) Killer spiders
  • Attack of the Killer Ants (1996 - novel)
  • Legion of Fire: Killer Ants! (1998 - TV movie)

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