The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

African Stink Ant

Afrikaans name:

African Stink Ant

Photo © Steven Herbert

Plectroctena mandibularis

With a body length of almost 2 cm the workers of the African Stink Ant are rather large. The 'stink' part of their name refers to the smell produced by colonies of bacteria that live in their head capsules. This smell may be used as a defence mechanism.

This ant either catches its food or finds its food by scavenging. They catch and eat termites, beetles, and their particular favourite, millipedes. Unlike many species of ant, they do not run in trails. They do, however, lay trails using their stings but these are just navigational aids to the individual and do not lead others to a food source.

Small colonies of the African Stink Ant make their home in deep burrows. These colonies are normally smaller than 300 individuals.

They are found over the eastern and north-eastern regions of South Africa and are absent from the Northern Cape and Western Cape. Beyond South Africa’s borders they occur all the way up the east coast of Africa to Ethiopia.

This species is also referred to as the Ringbum Millipede Muncher. If you look at the photo you can see where the name “ringbum” comes from.

References and further reading


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