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I promised a post on some more vicious ants than the ones that live inside and that I can have fun with through my ant art. Recently a family(?) of Siafu – the biting ant took a trip through our compound in search for their next food source.

Siafu Barrier

A Siafu Boundary

Siafu Line

This ant goes by various aliases, their scientific genus is Dorylus but as far as common names go it is also known as driver ants, safari ants and biting ants. I think the name Siafu could be one of the few words that Swahili contributes to the English language! I don’t believe we have anything like this in the UK so when they wandered through I was really intrigued while our local guards were not bothered at all. Why not have a quick game of spot the difference (apart from the obvious colour difference as I took them at different times of the day) in these 2 pictures I took of our outside area.

Spot the difference?


These ants possess a rather nasty bite as me and a few guys discovered in a dark hotel car park quite a few months ago. If you happen to tread in their line the soldier ants that are the main defence take no prisoners and can make it up your legs and to your ‘special area’ in no time whatsoever! And when you see the size and ferocity of their jaws (see pic) you are quite happy to scarper and leave them to their business.

Siafu Jaws

Jaws & a tight grip – Jaws 4?

What most intrigued me about their line was the sheer number of ants and organisation of their line to ensure maximum safety of the group. The large soldier ants would make a tunnel for the smaller ants to safely pass through and it was these ants on duty who would attack if anything breached the line. In the picture below I used a slowish shutter speed to try to capture the sturdy protective tunnel formed by the soldiers but also the movement of the other ants through along the line.

The Siafu Line

Indeed I may not have even had to introduce these beasties as they made an appearance in a (major) hollywood blockbuster – Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Although I’ve not seen them devour a person yet I have heard slightly gruesome stories of dogs being tied up and happening to get in the way of a line on their search for food…

Siafu Line

Siafu Pile

At some points in the line there are so many of the ants that you can’t really make out where the line is or the organisation it just looks like a big pile! Anyway, I’ll leave you with a couple of other pics and a little video I made so you can see them in action! p.s. apologies if this post makes you itch like somethings crawling on you!