The largest ant in the world today is the Queen Driver Ant. This regal insect is ten times larger than the worker ants that support her.
How big can it get?
Whilst the minions beneath her are just 5 millimetres in length and soldier ants are slightly bigger at 15 millimetres – the queen grows as long as 5 centimetres. The males she mates with are about 3 centimetres, and are referred to as Sausage Flies thanks to their wings and oblong-shaped bodies.
What does it eat?
Unlike regular ants found in your garden, this ant isn’t satisfied with a few leaves. Instead it picks on insects, earthworms, termites, and even rats. In fact, there’s very little it is afraid of.
How does it hunt?
Despite its diminutive size – the queen excepted – driver ant colonies are fierce, with ants swarming on any-sized prey. Their mandibles are particularly sharp and can savage prey. This mob isn’t above a quick smash-and-grab job either, fearlessly entering termite hills and making off with enough food to feed the whole family. Well, almost.
How dangerous is it?
Despite having a sting, the driver ant is unlikely to use it on a human. Its fierce jaws are strong enough to cause some discomfort if bitten. However, people like the Maasai welcome the nomadic species as it makes for excellent pest control.
How many are left?
Billions! A queen will lay as many as 1.2 million eggs per month meaning that the colony is guaranteed a future. It is possible that habitat retraction could pose a problem in the future.
The driver ant has one of the sharpest bites pound-for-pound in the animal kingdom. If it bites a human it will squeeze down even after if its body is pulled from its head. Some tribes use this as a form of extreme emergency suturing.