Red Ants


Potential Pain.


We were at the beach for a long weekend and I noticed this gathering of large red ants on one of our walls. It’s unusual to see such a huge gathering of ants in plain view and was curious why this was the case. Were they protecting a wounded Queen that was out for a stroll? Was this a rogue group of ants scheming to breakaway from the main colony after their food rations were unilaterally reduced? Were they eating some poor larger insect that was attached to the wall? With no myrmecologists (those who study ants) nearby, I remained clueless. :) After taking a few photos, I left the ants for a few hours. Two huge downpours took place in the meantime and bizarrely, the ants never moved. How odd is that? Water was streaming down the walls and this group of ants just stood there unperturbed There is really no point to this post, just random curiosity, I suppose. As a kid, I used to play with huge black ants, but was wise enough to avoid the large red ones. Kids these days seem much less inclined to root around the yard or empty lots nearby, so I wonder if they are missing something so basic, natural and free.


My legs were once devoured by a colony of red ants while I stood on the edge of a golf course many years ago. The bites were horrific and it was a truly unpleasant experience. So a vindictive part of me wanted to locate a flammable aerosol can and turn it into a flame thrower when paired with a burning match. :) But I resisted the urge to murder and just watched the gathering of ants from a few inches away…


42 Responses

  1. Brings back memories when I was a kid growing up in the city. We went to the province and I saw these ants on the trees with their houses made of leaves and I thought “Wow, ants in the provinces are really huge!

  2. Smart move to leave them alone,MM! Those red ants can really make one see red when they bite! On another note, remember your post about not seeing dragonflies in the city nowadays? I don’t know if zinnias have anything to do with the multiplication of dragonflies in my garden. I planted a lot of zinnias for the butterflies to come…well, so have the dragonflies!!!!

  3. They knew it was going to rain, hence a potential deluge in their abode. Ergo, they found refuge in your house.

    When I lived in Tallahassee, fire ants that live in huge mounds in the ground would seek refuge inside the house during heavy rains. In my house their favorite place was the clothes closet. Very unfortunately.

  4. Wow! The ants didn’t flinch in the rain? Amazing!

    In Australia we have what we call bull ants and they are huge. When they bite, it hurts. I think I have jumped quite a bit when I realised there was a bull ant next to me. I don’t know about ‘fire ants’ and so far they are only confined to a small part in Queensland but I think our bull ants might be a beaut contender to them.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. MM, is this in Luzon? This looks like the species that bears grubs/larvae/eggs that we eat. Ant eggs and larvae are a delicacy here in the north. They live on silk folded tree leaves and we gather them by shaking the tree with a bilao underneath. Why is my add from china…yaiks…’am in luzon now…weird.

  6. I agree with ntgerald. I remember it was depicted in the disney movie ANTZ. They know when it’s going to rain so they go to higher grounds for safety. But what baffled me last summer was when our house was literally invaded by black ants and gave us some troubles.This was the first time we experienced this.I thought our oven toaster,refrigerator and bedroom aircon were busted but later found the electric outlets teeming with ants.Same goes to several light switches kaya pala we cant turn on the lights.They literally lived in the outlets and switches bringing sand in there thus covering the electrical contact points.Electrician had to clean each outlet and light switch.Only explanation I can think of—maybe it got too hot for them outside so they invaded the house.But electrician had a better explanation—-maybe our house was sweet and diabetic! Ha!ha!ha! Just wondering bakit hindi sila nakukuryente???

  7. Sharing your curiosity about the world around us – often the tiny and minute that we overlook.

  8. oecophylla smaragdina- commonly known as weaver ants. They have symbiotic relationship with the tree.

  9. Aerosol flamethrower, LOL. A citronella based linen spray always keeps the ants at bay inside our home.

    @ Melanie

    Dragonflies are seasonal, its even a symbol of Fall/Autumn in Japan. Like the buzzing cicadas of Summer.

  10. i just saw 2 dragonflies (big ones— tutubing kalabaw) in Greenhills last week… in front of Fully Booked Promenade and the other one at the parking lot nearby.. maybe its the same one??

    as for the red ants, our chesa tree here in manila is home to a huge colony of big rent ants.. i think they are called “hantik” in our province… their nest is a ball-like shape made of leaves

  11. I hope they do not nest inside your house. It is hard to get rid of them once they are in. I know this from experience. :(

  12. like the sea, I have a healthy respect for ants! being in a very forested area, we deal with any singular ant immediately. They act kasi like the scouts of the horde and by experience, if we miss them out and they get to the colony and spread the good news of food in the kitchen, then we get an ant invasion. Your photo is somewhat like what I am describing but multiply the photo by 20 pieces and you get the picture of what an ant invasion in our house looks like. Red and black—they both sting like hornets hereabouts!

  13. i’m terrified of red ants myself, although i don’t think i’ve encountered them here in TO. based on your photo, the closest i can compare them size-wise are carpenter ants. and you don’t want them inside your house either :)

    regarding your comment that kids tend to be less curious about nature these days, i read an excellent essay about this trend in the Times sometime ago.

  14. Nice close up! :) I was also the type who can just sit and stare at these tiny creatures before. I’m glad my kids still get fascinated by these hantik ants, salagubang, and tutubi on the rare occasion that we see some.

  15. hantik o antik ang tawag namin diyan. actually mas masakit mangagat yung maliliit na pulang langgam (di ko alam ang tawag). yung hantik malaki ang ‘jaws’ kaya mapapa-aray ka, pero hindi kasing venomous nung maliliit….

  16. I am one that HATES ants!
    When I see them gathered like this, give me GOOSEBUMPS!!


    But in fairness, they do look good. I mean, good different.

  17. Oooooh scary photos MM. Brings images of pain and …. kiddy naughty times!

    We called them hantik, in our house anyway. Growing up, we have a huge yellow mango tree in our yard and I could remember them always having hantik at the bottom or just around the trunk. Being kids, my brother and I would be mischievous: we’d douse some ants crawling with alcohol and throw a lit match. Unahan ko na yung magre-react na ang sama sama namin, please note we were kids, like 8 years old. And we manage to scour some matches from our unknowing gardener who smokes hehe.

    MM, have you tried fried ants btw? My classmate back in 7th Grade did Fried Hantik Ants for her investigatory project (she got the ants from Pampanga), and made the class taste them. Pretty much like toasty corned beef, I must say.

  18. My aunties and lolas called then huntik/antik. I think the ants in the photo, their hive was disturbed or attacked by a rival hive. I’m no entomologist or myrmecologists just a avid national geographic watcher. Also we have had ants like those in our backyard here in QC and in my many aunt’s back yards quite often, and I had spent many a day watching them move about the fruit trees, mostly trying to avoid them. They do ball around the queen and larvae when they move residence. They just probably made a wrong turn and ended up on your wall. They are probably waiting for their scouts to report back a suitable relocation site before moving on. It’s interesting how they construct their homes. The mature adults literally form an ant chain to pull leaves together and use a secretion from the hind quarters of the larvae like glue to bond the leaves together, it looks like they are sewing. The secretion stretches between the gap of the two the two leaves and as it dries shrinks into a silk like substance that pulls the gap closed and holds the leaves together. My father from Pampanga says these ants are eaten in their province, fried or adobo style much like the mole crickets and grasshoppers/locusts. We once had to exterminate a growing hive, since we had toddlers running about the garden. We threw the hives, made from native bayabas leaves, into a fire and I swear the smell was so appetizing, my mouth started to water. Although I am curious about how it would taste like, I’m one of those people who can’t bare to eat something I think of as gross even if it tastes wonderful.

    FYI, Ants are actually the flightless cousins of bees, hornets and wasps. So some may be venomous and even deadly to humans who are allergic. Fortunately, the ants in the photos are non-poisonous much like a python or boa constrictor are non-venomous snakes.

  19. If these are the same “hantik”or fruit ants that my cousins in Quezon called, then all I can tell is that I have seen it with my own eyes, how they (my cousins), climb up the tree of mangoes, liputi, and any other tall big trees in their farm, and these ants will crawl in their legs, arms and other parts of their bodies (not in the face though). My cousins said as long as you don’t kill one of them (by swatting them while crawling), hindi raw sila kumakagat. Tutuo ba ito, or matigas na lang talaga ang mga skin ng mga pinsan ko. Hindi lang isang beses kong na-witness ito. Sometimes even on bayabas trees, ganuon din, hindi na halos sila pinapansin ng mga magsasaka sa probinsiya namin.

  20. EbbaBlue,
    “My cousins said as long as you don’t kill one of them (by swatting them while crawling), hindi raw sila kumakagat.” When you climb a coconut tree like the tuba-gatherer, there would be instances when a scorpion, large spiders, big ants, snake, gecko, centipede, millipede, or chameleon would scamper in the opposite direction. You stay still and allow them to do so, even though they crawl over parts of your body. That is reasonable traffic management. Other creatures have a right to be here, too.

  21. back then, when we had dogs that had ticks or fleas on them, we manually picked the fleas and crushed them between our fingernails until they’re all nice and mushy! but since the eggs are so miniscule that they can still live through the the nail crushing , what we do for good measure is we put on a lot of alcohol on our hands and then place the flea remains on any surface (preferably fireproof), put alcohol on them and then light them up with a match! entertainment and sanitation all at the same time! justy kidding!

    I’m not sadistic, actually i do respect these insects (the ants, not the ticks) and the great value that they represent. but i do use the alcohol and match on them when they do, on those rare occasions, irritate me (especially when they see your feet as a substitute for lechon).

    but again, this happens rarely!

    great and interesting photos MM! ;)

  22. Excuse the off topic comment, but I remember you had issues with Cebu Pacific in the past. It seems they are getting some pretty heavy exposure in mainstream media both in US and Europe for free because of this viral hit somebody posted.
    If this was an actual ad campaign by CP, gotta applaud them for it. They boosted not only their brand but also Cebu as a fun town.

  23. tercer, clever, but doesn’t take away from their appalling service and on-time record. I doubt it was an ad campaign, just a well-recorded actual event, and or well-thought out way to get good viral coverage… I still don’t give CP any of my business unless it is absolutely necessary. :)

  24. these ants look like the edible type as what poster # 6 pointed out. I, too am from the North and we call them “bu-os”. the “bu-os” eggs mixed with coarsely chopped tomatoes, onion and salt taste like a milky substance that click-clack in your mouth. i haven’t tried this delicacy myself but my family said they pop like firecrackers in your mouth :-)

  25. Seeing the two photos of ants at the top I thought you’re writing about the fried ants, which some comments said is a delicacy in Pampanga. I’ve been bitten by the smaller red ants, and the red bumps itched for weeks!! Maybe a good idea to fry them and chew them hard for revenge. haha!

  26. I remember sunny days, red ants and a magnifying lens made me a happy kid and it was not about making me see them magnified but fried.

  27. that will be painful talaga….itchy everywhere..mabuti you saw it agad at hind nasandalan and hindi ka nakagat…hope you still enjoy your weekend in Nasugbu..:)

  28. these ants doesn’t inflict much sting compared to its black version called ”hantik” and small ants we call ”olandes” or the ”kwitib”…the eggs of these ants that we call ”kara-kara” is a delicacy up north…

  29. The pupa of the red ants are edible and taste very good. Try saute in garlic and pinch of adobo flavored spices. They are also great in omelet.

  30. These are the species that attacks when you climb up the mango trees, i know, i had a many encounters with them growing up in the suburb of Manila. You can kill them off but they will just keep coming all over your arms and legs and into your crouch, until you are forced to climb down. They always win no matter what.



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