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12. Green ant's nest
Title : 12. Green ant's nest 12. Green ant's nest
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Creator : Mountford, Charles P. (Charles Pearcy), 1890-1976, photographer
Source : PRG 1218/34/3109
Date of creation : 1948
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 60 x 60 mm
Catalogue record
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Description :

Green ant's nest of leaves attached to a small branch, photographed by Mountford on Groote Eylandt during the 1948 American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land.

Australian Green tree ants, or Oecophylla smaragdina, are a type of Weaver ant found in Northern Australia and South-east Asia. Their bodies are a striking green colour and they are known to aggressively defend their territory. The ants build their nests by sewing or weaving together leaves with the silky substance squeezed from their larvae.

Explorers past have commented on these insects - Matthew Flinders recorded his experiences of green ants from the Groote Eylandt/Cape Arnhem leg of his Investigator Voyage (1802-1803):

Most of the bushes contained nests made by a small green ant; and if the bush were disturbed, these resentful little animals came out in squadrons, and never ceased to pursue till the disturber was out of sight. In forcing our way amongst the underwood, we sometimes got our hair and clothes filled with them; and as their bite is very sharp, and their vengeance never satisfied, there was no other resource than stripping as expeditiously as possible. (A voyage to Terra Australis, V.2, pp 226 - 227).

Aboriginal people steep crushed green ants in water to make a sweet, lemony flavoured drink, and the ants have also been used for medicinal purposes. Nests containing the ants and pupae are crushed into a paste and inhaled to relieve colds, and in northeast Arnhem Land, the paste is put on the forehead to treat headaches.

Related names :

Mountford, Charles P.(Charles Pearcy), 1890-1976

American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, (1948)

Coverage year : 1948
Place : Arnhem Land
Region : Northern Territory
Further reading :
American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, (1948). Records of the American-Australian scientific expedition to Arnhem Land, Melbourne : Melbourne University Press, 1956-1964.

Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814, A voyage to Terra Australis : undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of that vast country and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802 and 1803, in His Majesty's ship the Investigator..., Adelaide : Libraries Board of South Australia, 1966

Isaacs, Jennifer, Bush food : Aboriginal food and herbal medicine, McMahons Point, N.S.W. : Weldons, c1987

Lamshed, Max, 'Monty' : the biography of C.P. Mountford, [Adelaide] : Rigby, 1972



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