Topless Cannibal Ants

Although this paper is several years old, I still read through it for a good laugh now and again. It’s a bold attempt by Aussie myrmecologist Alan Andersen to remedy the dearth of ant common names. Hilarity ensues.

Snugglepot Ant?

As we know, ants are too small and too numerous for most species to have caught the attention of the broader human populace. Few species have ever acquired a vernacular name, in any language, and biologists are generally happy to use the formal Latin nomenclature.

Genial Killer Ants?

Andersen’s hallucinogenic trip through the myrmecofauna is worth a read, though. I doubt most of the names will stick- for the same reason that the ants lacked common names in the first place- but I don’t fault him for trying.

Blue Pony Ant?

I do hope to work someday on Topless Cannibal Ants. It’d make great cocktail party conversation.


  1. #1 MrILoveTheAnts
    March 9, 2010

    Wouldn’t Topless Cannibal Ants be like that headless ant you found in Florida a while back?

  2. #2 Christopher Taylor
    March 9, 2010

    It _does_ look a bit like Snugglepot.

  3. #3 JasonC.
    March 9, 2010

    Did anyone else see an ant covered with body paint and roasting ant parts on a spit? Ok, maybe it’s just me.

  4. #4 James C. Trager
    March 10, 2010

    Oops, accidentally responded with this at the contest thread, but here goes again:

    Sad that all the parrot ants will now have to be called highlander ants. 🙁

  5. #5 Dave
    March 11, 2010

    As much as I like Alan, and his sense of humour, he seems to have been serious here. Bah humbug! I strongly disagree with the push towards ‘approved’ common names as redundant, ridiculous, pompous, and bluenosed (and I don’t mean the southern black bream).

    I know that standard common names can be important for commercial species (a friend on the fish name committee convinced me of that), but people should be free to call a bug whatever they want and if they need to be specific, they can use the Latin binomial. I don’t think that standard common names will do anything to get the public to like ants any better, but I must admit that I find Topless Cannibal Ant somewhat prurient and frightening. Is there a website?

  6. #6 David King
    March 14, 2010

    Sure, there’s a website:

  7. #7 macromite
    March 15, 2010

    Thanks David – I can hardly wait to make-up the common names for their ant mites.

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