North America has metallic blue ants, too


Pheidole metallescens, photographed in Gainesville, Florida

Mention a blue ant to any self-respecting myrmecologist and most will think of Australia. The great southern continent hosts an abundance of ants in spectacular metallic hues of blue, purple, and green. As you can see above, though, we Americans aren’t entirely bereft of iridescent formicids. I happened across these adorable little Pheidole in myrmecologist Andrea Lucky’s garden last week.

Not my best photo, unfortunately. But it does show the unusual structural color.

15 thoughts on “North America has metallic blue ants, too”

  1. This is every card carrying NRA member’s favorite ant. They are gun barrel metallic blue. One of my favorites here in FL and always a treat to see.

    1. A little. More pronounced if they were in alcohol for a while prior to mounting. The coloring is much harder to see on the queens and majors than the minors.

  2. Im lucky to have a few Rhytidoponera chalybea colonies in my local park which is cool. Not sure if they are classified as invasive in NZ or not though, being Australian.

  3. Yes but… ask an Australian (who is in any small way informed about insects) about blue ants and you will get the blue ant, Diamma bicolor, which is a wasp. Even my local state museum lists this species under ‘Ants and termites’ in its app.
    I would be delighted to come across a Calomyrmex here in Central Victoria but if I (and hopefully do) it will be black with white hairs, no blue, no iridescence.
    None of this takes away from your lovely north american blue Pheidole. So what do the majors look like?

  4. We (the Antweb team abroad) just imaged the type of P. metallescens here in Geneva. Since the specimen is old and not in the best condition – just hints of the iridescence – I found myself hoping there would be some Wild shots. Thanks for the post!

  5. Alex, this may or may not interest you. Author William Gibson named an advertising agency Blue Ant in his last three novels. Said novels are sometimes referred to as The Blue Ant Trilogy.

  6. I’ve got these in my house! Well, actually, they’re in a Cornell Drawer….

    What I’m waiting for is a metallic green ant!

  7. So I live in northern central Alabama, in the states. And as a child I remember seeing two ants (at different times) that really stuck in my mind. Both were about a half to three quarter inch in length. One was irredescent red and the other bluish green. Any ideas?

  8. I actually found a bunch of these stowed away inside a bag of topsoil I bought up here at an ace hardware in Wisconsin. Wonder how they’ll effect the area now that they’re here, and whether they could be classed as an “invasive species”?

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