Green Ants

Submitted: Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:34
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Have you ever eaten one?....or many?

Years ago I used to run a tour business in Darwin. Amongst other sights I would take my clients out on the Marrakai Plains for an afternoon walk in the scrub.

There used to be a Strychnine Tree with its yellow fruits, growing on a rise. I would tell the folks a yarn about the old fella who lived to be 105 because he ate one of these berries every day.

Now the strychnine berry is the most foulest tasting fruit you may find.

I would entice some to take a bite of the berry advising that its taste may not be all that palatable but I would bite into one myself to prove that it was edible....and that I was going to live for a long time as well.

Those who did so, spat the contents of the berry out in haste, as it leaves the bitterest taste in your mouth.

Then I would tell them that the only cure for that taste was to eat some green ants. I would then shake another tree nearby which had a colony of green ants living in it . The ants would get really angry and run out on to my hand and arm biting all the way. I would then run my mouth over my arm engulfing some ants and start chewing. The green ant is similar to the honey ant as its body contains some green fluid which tastes like citronella. You have to chew quickly, of course, as the ants tend to bite you at every opportunity. The ants also used to get into my beard and bite me later for my troubles.

Aussies normally took the joke in their stride but Europeans and Americans used to throw up on cue.

I always had some licorice or bon bons in my pocket to cure the digusting berry taste for those who refrained from eating ants.

The next time you are in the Top End, go try a green ant.

It is quite tasty.

LOL
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Reply By: Al & Mrs Al (Vic) - Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:37

Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:37
LOL Willie

I've never eaten one, but I have been bitten by one, and it's OUCH !

Lyn
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:42

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:42
Mrs Al

Next time you are up north you had better try one. I am sure the young 'un will want to do the same...lol
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Follow Up By: Al & Mrs Al (Vic) - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 09:15

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 09:15
I think i'll pass, the youngest young'un got bitten by a green ant too, and I'm sure will want nothing to do with them...hahaha
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:42

Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:42
Yep I can believe this. Right up your ally.

Hey I was in a pub the other day talking 4w drives when a guy starts to tell me that the Suzuki is the best 4wd in the world.
Tells me about a bloke in Darwin years ago who actually drove one over a water buffalo, I told him it was bull$hit.
Funny how these story's go eh?
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:26

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:26
Hmmmmm!
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Reply By: roofscooter2 - Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:43

Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:43
And the moral to the story is!
AnswerID: 160305

Follow Up By: Exploder - Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 22:13

Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 22:13
Don’t trust tour bus operators. LOL.

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Reply By: Pterosaur - Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:49

Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:49
G'day Willem,

your tale about the strychnine bush brings back memories of a similar technique with "native sugar" trees in Tas. - more commonly known as "native pepper" to the locals, and "mountain pepper" to gourmets, and VERY HOT !

About the green ants - have tried them - delicious -sort of lime and bitters taste, and altogether excellent IMO.

Being initially unfamiliar with the green ants, I was pretty wary of them when I first encountered them, but after a couple of bites, realised that while they like to "take possession" of all sorts of items (chairs, clothes lines etc.,) they are not particularly prone to bite (or sting?), and I've subsequently cleaned literally hundreds off me and my gear without a bite.

They sure realise that something bad is up when you're hunting for a taste though, and get really alarmed whenever I've tried. I haven't eaten the whole ants though - just their abdomen.

regards
Terry
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Follow Up By: V8 Troopie - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 01:39

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 01:39
Terry, those green ants have me intrigued. Do you eat them raw or do you marinate them first and, if so, marinate in what? Then, which part is eaten, you mention the abdomen, what about the guts and such? Obviously one does not eat the stinging part (rear end??) or do they have a biting bit instead? Do you fillet them first as well?
I wonder how green ants on toast might be, are there any recipes?

Klaus
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Reply By: Geoff M (Newcastle, NSW) - Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:57

Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 21:57
Willem,
You're an incorrigible old rogue!

I love it,

Geoff.

PS, I've never tasted a green ant, must give one a try.
Geoff,
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Reply By: Member - Nick (Kununurra) - Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 23:22

Monday, Mar 13, 2006 at 23:22
Gday Willem,a ranger put us onto them in at Bell Gorge camp ground,the kids had great fun trying to eat them before getting bitten,they dont taste to bad really.And to think of all the millions that covered our tent(and everything else) while camped at Loyalty beach that I sprayed with fly spray,could have fed the kids for a week.
AnswerID: 160343

Follow Up By: Rob from Cairns Offroad Training & Tours - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 00:08

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 00:08
We are a little more subtle up this way Willem. We encourage our tourists to taste a Green Ant by licking its bum. The substance is asorbic acid BTW which also gives lemons thier sharp taste. I demonstrate by picking an ant up gently, giving its bum a lick then letting him go because imagine the story he is going to tell his mates when he gets back to the colony. Then everyone wants to try one but are worried about getting bitten, so I catch them and hold them between thumb and forefinger while they lick them.
Pretty girls eating out of my hand, got to love bein' a tour guide. The nests also boil up well in a billy, cure coughs, colds, sore throats, broken limbs and acute dihorea. Cheers Rob
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Follow Up By: cokeaddict - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 05:40

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 05:40
God i hope they dont have gay ants, can u imagine licking agay ants bum...he would never leave u again ;-)
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:33

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:33
Hi Nick

Hope you are enjoying your sojourn at Kununurra. It is a big learning curve when one lives in the tropics.

Hi Rob,

Yes, subtlety is not my forté.......lol

Hi Son,

Trust you to think of that...lol

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Reply By: Squizzy - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 07:10

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 07:10
Willem,

While we were at Kakadu last year we first spotted these green ants, they were in the amenities building.

The maintenance man told us we could eat the contents of the green sack on their back, so we held some by their heads and sucked this green sack and found it to taste like lemons.

We did this each time we encountered these green ants while touring through the top end.

Geoff.
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Reply By: OzRoamer - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 08:05

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 08:05
Thats enough - i think bum licking should be banned from this site!!

surely there a is a site that specialises in this passtime....for those interested.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 12:46

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 12:46
I would think it difficult to find one that specializes in ants.
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Reply By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 08:07

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 08:07
We used to eat them when we lived in Darwin. Not a bad citrus taste. A nest dropped in boiling water was a bush tucker drink.

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Reply By: Big Kidz (Andrew & Jen) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 08:30

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 08:30
Never tried green ants - though when we were on the GRR in the Kimberley last year we came to this track and drove down a few kilometres and had to bush bash a bit. I wanted to camp there the night but Jen wanted to push on. Anyway, while there I tried some chocolate frogs - not too bad at all.

Andrew
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:29

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:29
You had better watch out young fella. Eating copious amounts of chocolate frogs and you will end up with a long range fuel tank like me....LOL
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Reply By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 09:25

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 09:25
"The ants also used to get into my beard and bite me later for my troubles."

Serves ya right!
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Follow Up By: Member - David 0- Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 10:20

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 10:20
Yep tried em, taste sort of lemony.

Love the Aussie humour- not sure Europenas would find it funny

:-)
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Reply By: glenno(qld) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 11:13

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 11:13
Bushtucker i have in my yard are :
lemon myrtle , place one leaf (fresh or old) in a cup of water just boiled . Let it sit there for 10 mins and the color will turn brown . Tip water into a 2 litre softdrink bottle of water . Beautiful .
Sand paper fig : course leaves like sandpaper , fun for kids to muck around with .
Davidsons plum : never had any fruits yet .
Native ginger : eat the pith around the seed but i find its dry and aweful .
Native raspberry from atherton : invasive but tons of beatiful berries .
Zig zag vine : orange fruite which is quite tart .
Native mulberry : quite small fruit about the 6mm dia but juicy and loads of them .
Peanut tree : no fruit yet .
Miracle berry : reverses your tastebuds so that anything sweet tastes sour and vice versa . (not native , comes from the congo) .
Heaps of other ones and all on a quarter acre block in suburban brisbane .
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:38

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:38
Thats good that you can identify so many native species.

There is a Sandpaper Fig growing on the pathway from the carpark to Jim Jim Falls in Kakadu. It was a good source of amusement for the tourists.

I have an invasive plant in my garden that even Roundup wont kill. Local name is Periwinkle and it is a creeper like wireweed(which we have as well). Comes from the eighbour next door and only thing is to trim it on a regular basis. It does not seem to have a fruit.
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Reply By: Member - Blue (VIC) - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 15:29

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 15:29
So you eat a plant which contains rat poison then wash it down with ants that bite you with formic acid... Sounds like an experiment in making party drugs...

Never had the pleasure of trying the strychnine fruit but have eaten the ants... Once you get used to the sensation of them trying to crawl out of your mouth, they are quite pleasant to eat.
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:41

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:41
Yes well........only very small amounts though.

If you eat half a berry from the Quinine Tree(proper name) it ups your heart rate for a while...lol
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Reply By: Mr Fawlty - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 20:42

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 20:42
My Son, a consumate Gourmet eater took us out for dinner at an Etheopian Restaraunt.. Desert was carob dipped ants, don't know if they were green....Sort of crisp on the palate with an acidic finish...
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Reply By: Joe King - Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 22:52

Tuesday, Mar 14, 2006 at 22:52
Willem, another name for strychnine berry is quinine...
have eaten green ants, & Glenno mentioned bush peanut or peanut tree, we call them Monkey Nut, probably the best nut I have ever tasted, when they get an orange pod on them, wait for them to open & they will reveal 8 or 10 black nuts, wait for the orange cases to shrivel & the smooth shiny nuts to dull a bit & shrivel too, pick them & leave for a couple of days in a paper bag, when you peel them they have 2 shells, eat them raw or put them in the microwave for a couple of seconds, shell & all this will make them easier to peel, the shells are as bitter as anything.
wait for the sandpaper figs to fruit, when they turn black they are nice too (if you can beat the birds to them) & if the davidson plum fruits, be careful of the little hairs on them, soak them in water first to soften the little hairs
lady Apples (Syzigium Suborbiculare) are a great bush food, they grow all over the eastern side of the cape but rarely on the western side, they come into fruit as the Monkey nut are going out..
Billy goat plums are about the size of a salty plum & have 20 times the amount of vitamin c than oranges, there are some great tasting bush foods but jeez ther are some baaad ones, macadamia are a success story, pitty Aussie farmers didn't get onto it sooner....
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:26

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2006 at 08:26
Joe King

Yes Quinine is what we used to call the tree as it sounded more acceptable :o)

I have Ruby Saltbush growing in my garden. We have a variety of undomesticated(feral trees) apple trees growing on the road verges here in SA. Also the indigenous Cocky Apple.

Unfortunately I am allergic to anything nutty so I stay away from that fruit. Growing up in Africa we used to call a variety of peanuts, Monkey Nuts. I think it stems from the colonial days.
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