Ashburton man stung by mystery ant

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Bailey Chambers of Ashburton was stung by a strange ant last weekend.

‘‘I thought it was like a fly on my leg, next minute I was like ‘That’s not a fly’, and it sort of felt like a little bit of a sting, like a sandfly really,’’ he said.

Chambers is a keen photographer and had been out in the field taking pictures throughout Canterbury that day, walking through long grass in Little River and Leeston.

He said the ant may have got into his shoes in the long grass, as he had never seen an ant before like that in or around his home at Tinwald. He certainly hoped the ant had come in from another area, and did not have any friends lurking about.

‘‘I’ve never seen one before,’’ he said.

He said he was sitting in his lounge when he was stung, about 5pm on Saturday. He could see venom coming from the ant, which was on the back of his lower leg. The sting was not painful like a bee sting; it was more so irritating, although did not leave a mark. He promptly put the ant on the kitchen bench and photographed it, before squashing it.

‘‘I didn’t want it stinging the cat or anything,’’ he said.

The guilty ant, as photographed by Chambers.

He said he looked online and suspected the ant was a bicoloured arboreal ant.

MPI viewed Chambers’ photo and said the ant was likely to be a native to New Zealand.

Spokesperson Tanya Katterns said ants were difficult to identify from photos ‘‘because the diagnostic features are tiny’’.

‘‘From the photo you supplied, it is unlikely to be an exotic species. We do know that some of our New Zealand ant fauna are capable of biting and stinging and causing different levels of discomfort,’’ she said.

The public could report any unusual species by phoning the MPI hotline 0800809966, or use a report form on the department’s website.

Pest controllers spoken to by The Ashburton Courier said they had never seen the type of ant in Ashburton before.