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We’ve put this website together to help anyone interested in the natural systems of South Africa to identify these tiny but fascinating animals. There’s more about recognizing ants in the pages below, with some fairly basic stuff about these insects and their biology. Our ants are as much a part of our fantastic wildlife heritage as lions and rhinos, fish eagles and blue cranes, mighty yellowwoods and king proteas. The ecological role they play is immensely important for the health of our natural systems. Ants are essential seed-distributors to thousands of charismatically-beautiful fynbos plants; they are pollinators and recyclers, too, and also vectors in the spread of many plant predators. However, just as there are plant invaders that threaten our natural systems there are insect invaders, too, and we’re keeping an eye on some pretty murderous invasive ants. The problem is, no one involved in ecological study or conservation in South Africa really knows where these invaders are, or how widespread they are. The Iziko Museums list of South African ants, for example, only places the serious pest, the Argentine ant [see below], in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng; yet they are all over the Northern Cape towns of Nieuwoudtville and Calvinia. What’s more, both these towns enjoy temperature extremes in winter and summer. Popular wisdom has it that Argentine ants do not survive such extremes – yet there they are!
If you have any info, queries or comments please use the Comments box below. We are still working on the illustrations of the various ants and finding better ways of presenting them, so you might find something new every time you revisit this site. The first edition of our Field Guide, ANTS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA, is in print [see above].
|The Argentine ant – Linepithema humile – is one of the most devastating invasive organisms on Earth. It may pose a very serious threat to the health of our fynbos and other ecosystems ... but do we know where they all are?|