Our gallery, Honey Ant Gallery, is named after a fascinating creature, beloved by Indigenous Australians and considered a real delicacy!
The honey ant is an important ancestral totem for indigenous Australians. As well, they are important as a food source. They are delicious, tasting like honey with a hint of lime.
The three hills at Papunya in Central Australia are important Honey Ant Dreaming sites.
Here the ancestral Honey Ants returned to the ground after travelling during the Dreaming. Corroborees are performed here to re-enact the ancient journey and to revitalise the supply of honey ants.
The honey ant has a symbiotic relationship with the mulga trees. The worker ants collect secretions from the tree and take it down into the nest and feed it to specialised honey ants during the good months of the year. The women search under the mulga trees for the holes that lead down into the nest.
They dig down about a metre into the nest searching for the chambers that run off to the side where the honey pot ants are hanging from the ceiling – their abdomen extended to marble size by the honey they are storing. This is regurgitated to feed all the ants through the lean times.
They are a highly desired treat for the desert dwellers – there is no sting, only the delicious taste of rich honey.