The blue-green iridescence on these Iridomyrmex purpureus workers shines from microscopic sculpturing on the ants' cuticle.

I’ve never taken to the Australian vernacular for one of their most conspicuous insects.  The latin Iridomyrmex purpureus translates as “purple rainbow ant”, referring both to the base color of the body and to the attractive metallic refractions on the cuticle.  But Aussies instead call this colorful species the “meat ant.” Crass by comparison.

On the other hand, it’d probably not do my reputation of masculine bravado much good were I to stroll into a dusty pub in the outback and announce my affection for “purple rainbow ants.”  Crikey! Meat ants it is, then.

A few more pics:


A young Iridomyrmex queen searches out a suitable place to begin a new colony.


Mature nests of Iridomyrmex purpureus are unmistakable.


A foraging worker pauses on a Eucalyptus blossom.

Iridomyrmex reburrus, a northern meat ant from Queensland

Iridomyrmex reburrus, a northern meat ant from Queensland