• Coastal Brown Ants

  • Scientific Name:

    Phediole megacephala

    Appearance

    Often called the big headed ant. As the name suggests they are brown in colour and are between 1.5 and 2.4mm in length.
    They have 2 castes of workers, major and minor. The major worker has an enlarged head and is sometimes referred to as a soldier. The large dark head has a set of jaws which are used as a “nut cracker”. They crack hard seed pods and dissect insects and other hard foods.
    The smaller workers are the most numerous and carry food to the nest.

    Life cycle

    This species although having winged reproductive behaves differently in Australia than in other countries. In Australia the dispersal of new colonies is through ‘budding off’. Queens and kings will separate and form new colonies that can remain connected to the main colony. In this way they are able to form super colonies which can cover vast amounts of territory. Colonies can support large numbers of fertile queens these Queens are reported to be able to lay around 300 eggs per month which hatch into the larval stage, 23-29 days, then to the pupal stage 10-20 days.
    In northern Australia with temperatures in excess of 28 degrees the life span of a worker is around 40 days. In cooler climates where the temperature is around 20 degrees they will live to around 80 days.

    Habitat

    Coastal Brown Ants like warm, moist areas but are at home just about anywhere in hot humid climates. They can be found under rocks and in logs but really like the human environment where there is a lot of food available. They nest in pot plants, under pavers around trees and water pipes. They are often found in large numbers under carpets and their messy dirt piles are often confused with termite frass. They are a nuisance species as they are often found throughout the house in bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms.

    Food

    Coastal Brown Ants are both carbohydrate and protein feeders but do have a preference to oily proteins. They will feed upon sweet liquids, other insects and will dissect their prey and carry the pieces back to the nest. The large headed worker is employed to do most of the dissecting.
    They are a nuisance species as they are often found throughout the house in bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms.