Name: Green-head Ant (Rhytidoponera metallica)
Other names: Green ant or metallic pony ant
Description: In general, green-head ants are monomorphic (occurs in a single form), measuring 5 to 7 mm (0.20 to 0.28 in) in length and varying in colour, ranging from green-blue to green-purple. Their exoskeletons are hard and heavily armored with a single-segmented waist.
The queens measure 7.4 mm (0.29 in) with the head, thorax, and abdomen exhibiting various metallic colors. The head is usually green behind the eyes and ferruginous (rust in color) at the front with a less obvious purple tint between the colors. The antennae are ferruginous and the eyes are ovate (shape resembling an egg). The head is emarginate (having a notched tip or edge) from its posterior view and also rugose, along with the thorax and node (a segment between the mesosoma and gaster); these body parts are covered with large confluent punctures. The basal segment of the abdomen has transversely curved striae (grooves which run across the body). The color of the thorax is usually greenish, the wings are subhyaline (they have a glassy appearance), and the nervures (the veins of the wings) are testaceous (brick-red color). The legs and apex are ferruginous, and the abdomen is purple.
The workers and queens closely resemble each other, making the two castes hard to distinguish, but the workers differ in having a compressed and elongated thorax, and an abdomen that is predominately green-tinted. The workers are also slightly smaller than the queens, measuring 6 mm (0.24 in). The males are smaller than the workers and queens, measuring 5.5 mm (0.22 in) and appear to be black and fuscous (dark and sombre). The tarsus is fuscous, and the mandibles are rugose. In contrast to the workers and queens, the funicular joints are shorter, the sculpture is denser on the head and thorax, the number of punctures is less than that of the other castes and the postpetiole is coarser. The first segment of the gaster is transversely roughened, and the pilosity (hair) on the legs is less dense. The genitalia of the male is consistent with other formicids, composed of an outer, middle, and inner pair of valves.
Distribution: The green-head ant is among the most widespread of all insects endemic to Australia. The ant is found throughout Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia. It can be found in most areas of Western Australia but is less common in the north, and is present in the lower regions of the Northern Territory and east of Queensland. They are not present in Tasmania. The green-head ant is an introduced species to New Zealand and was first seen in 1959. Populations of the ant were probably introduced into the country on cargoes of timber; a number of other Rhytidoponera species were most likely introduced the same way. Populations have been established in Napier, as the ants were collected in the town between 2001 and 2003. Nests were previously found in the suburb of Penrose in Auckland and Mount Maunganui, but no specimens have been collected there since the 1960s.
Habitat: The habitat of the green-head ant varies, ranging from desert, heath, open forests, urban areas and woodland. These ants mainly live in moderate wooded or open areas, but they are abundant in lawns and gardens in cities. Nests have been found in dry and wet sclerophyll woodland, mallee, savannah woodland, on roadsides, and in native vegetation. Green-head ants are mostly found at altitudes of between 5 and 1,000 m (16 and 3,281 ft) above sea level. The workers construct small and loosely integrated nests underground or in decaying wooden stumps. They may also nest in the termite mounds of Amitermes laurensis. These nests are commonly found beneath grass roots or under logs, stones, twigs, or at the base of shrubs. Green-head ants can nest in disturbed areas, and, as a result, colonies of these ants are rather common in urban areas. They are among the first insects to be seen foraging for food in areas where bushfires have occurred, and in some cases they return right after the embers have stopped smouldering. Rain also presents no threat to green-head ants as long as it is a light shower in continuous sunshine.
Dymadex's blogs on bugs, including insects and arachnids. Insects are hexapod invertebrates like ants, beetles, bees, and flies. Arachnids are joint-legged invertebrates like spiders, scorpions, ticks, and harvestmen. Other organisms in this blog include centipede, millipede, and worms.
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