Digging for Honey Ants

Size: 30 x 30cm; acrylic on cotton canvas

Catalogue Number: 60-20


This painting is depicting four women (minyma) digging for one of their favourite bush foods, Tjala or honey ants. Found in central Australia the ants construct nests in the red flat sandy soil under trees or bushes. The women look for the camouflaged entrance to the nest amongst dead litter, then start digging about half a metre from the entrance working around to locate the side chambers where the storer ants hide. The honey is sucked or squeezed from the storers’ extended abdomens which look like tiny pots of honey.

The ‘U’ shapes are the women. Next to them are their wana or digging sticks. The coloured circles in the middle represent the honey ants under ground.