What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ant or Wasp?
Hi WTB,
I found this wasp or maybe ant in my driveway this morning when I went to take the trash out. I also saw a second one trying to right itself out of a small puddle on our walkway. I’m in central Mexico, in San Miguel de Allende, and we’ve had a bit of rain the last few days, including last night. This creature is about 1 1/2″ – 2″ in length with fuzzy thorax, and the rear section is very bulbous with shiny dark brown stripped sections. The overall color is kind of a reddish brown. The antennae are straight so it doesn’t quite look like a tarantula hawk. And while it looks like a wasp there doesn’t seem to be a stinger. So I’m uncertain as to whether this is a wasp or an ant. It also was originally upside down and I picked it up by the wing to put it right. Doesn’t appear to be aggressive. There are pinchers on the mouthparts. A look on your wasp pages and ant pages left me clueless as did a search on bug guide since I wasn’t too sure exactly what specifically to look for. Hoping you can shed some light on this.
Thanks in advance,
Stefanie

Hi Stephanie,
We saw these same enormous Flying Ants many years ago in Chiatla, Puebla, Mexico. There was an incredible swarm after a rain. We don’t know the species but we will do some research.

Mexican flying Ant
Hello Daniel and Lisa Anne,
I am in love with your site, and visit it daily. The flying ant is from the genus Atta, the leaf-cutting ants. In fact she is an alate, a winged Queen. These insects are known as “Hormigas Culonas” (‘big-bottom ants,’ in reference to their quite substantial abdomens) in Colombia, where they are so esteemed as a delicacy that they appear to be in danger of overharvesting. I’ve eaten them — though, alas, not fresh from the source — and can report a taste like bacon and pistachio nut combined. Edible insects are my passion, and I’ve been thinking about sending you a couple of images. If you’d be willing to include a link to my site, that would be fantastic.
All the best,
Dave Gracer
www.slshrimp.com

Update: (07/25/2006) Edible Mexican Queen: Leaf Cutting Ant
Hi, great site! Regarding the Edible Mexican Queen, having lived in Chiapas I can tell you that the local name for this is “nuc

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

6 Responses to Edible Mexican Queen: Leaf Cutting Ant

  1. jjmjmiller says:

    Found dozens of these outside our home this morning. We live in Milano, Texas. That is between College Station and Austin. We have 2 small boys. How harmful are they?

  2. yasmin says:

    hello! we found tones of queens of the leaf-cutting ants, I tasted the bump and was like royal jelly… so do you know if you can eat them raw without danger of toxicity? or better cooked? you eat only the bottom or also the body? Let us know quick, I may put them in the freezer in the meantime…

    Thank u!!!
    yasmín

    • bugman says:

      We suspect eating just the abdomen is likely the most palatable way to eat Leaf Cutter Ant queens. We will contact David Gracer who probably knows the information you requested.

  3. Hello Yasmin,

    Although insects are eaten raw/live in many parts of the world, these ants are traditionally cooked [roasted] in the descriptions that I’ve read. I’ve eaten them many times, and have always eaten all of the body — except for the wings, which are too tough, like a shrimp’s tail.

    I’ve heard that in some places the body-parts are separated, and only the abdomens are consumed, but I think that the other parts contribute some good flavor also.

    If by some chance you have a large harvest, or have some leftovers, I’d love to chat with you about possibly purchasing some.

    Thanks,

    Dave

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