Honey Pot Ants Become So Full Of Honey That They Cannot Fit Into Their Nests
Imagine an ant with a weight problem. It may be hard to picture, but there is a type of ant that gets fat from feeding on honey. These ants are aptly known as honey pot ants. There are thirty-four different species of honey pot ants and they all become large after gorging on honey. It would not be fair to say that these ants get “fat” necessarily; instead their abdomens become noticeably swollen from storing honey during long periods. Honey pot ant-workers become especially large, and they don’t just keep the honey for themselves. The honey is distributed among all members of the colony during dry seasons when food is more difficult to find.
Honey pot ant-workers are known as “repletes” and they resemble a spherical marble when full of honey. During the rainy season, these ants find honey easily, and they can become so large that they cannot always leave their nests on account of their enlarged size. These ants are full of nutrients that sustain the colony during dry seasons. Apparently, honey pot ants taste good to humans too, as aboriginal Australians are known for consuming these tasty ants. These ants are members of the Myrmecocystus species, and colonies that are the richest in honey, are envied by other honey pot ants. In fact, other members of this species will invade prosperous colonies and kill the queen in order to kidnap the largest ants. These kidnapped ants are quickly made into slaves by other types of honey pot ants.
Honey pot ants are native to the United States as well as New Guinea, Mexico, Australia, and South Africa. These ants are normally found in hot dry areas, such as the deserts of the southwest US. Honey pot ants will consume small insects when they need to, but they prefer to consume the nectar from desert flowers during rainy seasons.
Have you ever seen a honey pot ant while in a desert region?